Burnt Toast Studio, a not-for-profit artist collective that supports emerging artists in Calgary, is continuing to do so during the pandemic — with a #stayhome twist. 

This volunteer-run and operated studio, now celebrating its 20-year anniversary, has come up with a way to both keep their doors open during the pandemic and for Calgarians to show their support and dress up their windows at the same time. 

Burnt Toast Studio board president Karolina Gajewska says they started doing poster challenges about six years ago with Sled Island. Since then, they have done similar poster shows and challenges with the likes of The Dandy Brewing Company and I Love You Coffee Shop. 

But this time is a little different.

About a month ago, Burnt Toast studio held a COVID-19 window poster challenge, inviting local artists to submit their designs. 

“When COVID happened, we were just trying to think of a way to keep people engaged and keep designers, you know, doing something and just feeling connected,” says Gajewska. 

“We did a poll, so we got the audience to vote on the top one ones that they liked, and then we silkscreened about 30 to 40 of those top five posters and sold them for $10 each.”

The response has been great. With accessible pricing and the broadness of people affected by these times, Burnt Toast Studio’s poster challenge has sold out faster than ever, within one and a half weeks; some within a couple days, says Gajewska. 

“It’s just super sweet, we did it because we wanted to have posters in the windows and have a way to communicate with people outside, put out positive messages,” says Gajewska. 

“It would be so cool to see the whole city with these wonderful pieces of art in their windows like the kids are doing, and it is really sweet to drive around and see the ones that we’ve done so far.” 

For your viewing pleasure, here are the top five posters:


 deck love

Marrisa Bailowas – Love Isn’t Cancelled

Artist Inspiration: “I have heard a lot of folks say they miss hugging those they care about — more simply, they miss physical touch. In a time of social distancing, we are challenged to embrace the ones we love with our words and distant actions. I like to think that we are redefining what it means to truly be “connected,” even from afar. I hope that we will walk away from this a little more connected to the people that make our hearts sing and deepen the crow’s feet at our hopeful eyes. But most of all, I hope that we will take the time to tune in and connect to realities beyond our own, and prepare to fight the good fight that puts love at the forefront.”

Instagram: @marissabialowas


deck stayhome 

Mike Hooves – Stay Home

Artist Inspiration: “I wanted to combine the seriousness of WW2 propaganda posters with a cozy sweatpants sensibility to create a playfully heroic image. The shield design is inspired by old Canadian homes and the folk-art stylings of their gables, another way to make the image radiate homey comfort. I hope this poster is a reminder that something as seemingly mundane as staying home is an active and effective form of fighting COVID-19.”

Instagram: @mikehooves

Website: www.mikehooves.com


deck people

Nasarimba – Put People First, Fund Public Services

Artist Inspiration: “The current UCP provincial government is actively cutting funding of essential public services that are the basis of our society. Meanwhile they are bailing out large oil and gas corporations, buying shares in pipeline projects, handing out corporate tax breaks, and selling off crown land to private interests. We want to encourage and promote funding of public services in Alberta. Health care, education, housing, transit, childcare and food security are human rights. Put people first and prioritized public services in the provincial budget. ”

Instagram: @nasarimba

Website: nasarimba.wordpress.com


deck wash

Nini Lee – Wash Your Hands You Filthy Animal

Artist Inspiration: “Rule number one during this pandemic: wash your hands! Something I think we’ll all be reminding ourselves to do more often, even after this is all over.”

Instagram: @ninininilee

Website: iamnini.com


deck stayhome2

Ryan Kostel – Stay Home

Artist Inspiration: “Just wanted to make something a little fun and light-hearted to keep people smiling!”

Instagram: @the_dutch_intrest

Website: ryankostel.com

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