Carlingwood resident creates design one step at a time
Walking the walk, all 8,000 steps
Story and photos by Kristy Strauss
Emily Chen has gone from designing t-shirts for her high school band as a teenager, to using her artistic talent to give back in her adult years.
The Carlingwood resident has designed the t-shirts for CARE Canada’s annual Walk In Her Shoes event – a fundraiser that challenges participants to walk 8,000 steps over eight days, and represents how far women in developing countries must walk each day for bare necessities.
“This was a project that I thought was very cool and really worthwhile,” says Chen. “This cause hits home.”
She took on the project when a long-time friend, who works for CARE Canada, asked if she would be interested in designing the t-shirts for the annual event.
Chen said she wanted to get involved by illustrating the t-shirts, which will be worn by up to 1,200 participants.
The artist has enjoyed arts and illustrating, stretching back to when she was young. As a graphic designer, Chen created her own t-shirts on the side starting in 2007 – selling them online and at crafts shows.
Chen has designed t-shirts for musicians like Kathleen Edwards and Jim Bryson and the Weakerthans. She has also used her drawing skills to give back to the Canadian Cancer Society. Chen and her sister decided to start the DAD (Drawing A Day) Project, when their father was battling cancer. The duo would take turns creating a drawing every day that they would sell, and on Fridays would accept donations from artists which would go to the Canadian Cancer Society.
When she looked into designing the t-shirts for Walk In Her Shoes, Chen looked at past t-shirt designs which featured high heel shoes. She felt like she could do something a little different this time around.
“I don’t own a pair of stilettos and I can’t relate to that,” she says. “And I wanted something relatable to other people.”
Incorporating the high heel shoe idea, Chen provided CARE Canada with different proofs and designs of what the t-shirt could look like.
The final product included illustrations of all different types of shoes – using the logo colours black, orange, red and white.
“I really liked how (the design) came across,” Chen said. “It’s about making (the t-shirt) as interesting and enjoyable to other people as possible.”
She added that the feedback on the t-shirts have been great and those who plan to participate have been happy with the design.
“Even guys have been happy to wear it,” she said.
Chen also said that while designing the t-shirts, the experience has reminded her how lucky she is to have access to clean water and the basic necessities.
“As a mother, I don’t know how many times I wash my hands in a day,” she said. “I’ve thought about that and about what I would do if I had a finite amount of water.”
While many start their challenge on International Women’s Day, on March 8, participants can choose to walk when and where it works for them.