Stories Behind The Designs

Good evening and happy Monday to you all! As many of you might know, March is Community Association Awareness month. Community Association Awareness month is aimed at celebrating the hard work and dedication of community associations in Calgary, and work to bring awareness and supporters to the amazing communities that make up YYC!

The communities in Calgary are a large part of what makes up the Local Laundry brand, the bread and butter if you will. Part of what makes us different is we love getting into trouble with the local communities of YYC and celebrating them. As a way to support and bring awareness to Community Association Awareness month we asked the designers behind our community t-shirts about the history of the community, how they created the design and any other interesting tidbits! Below we have just a few of the many outstanding community t-shirt designs and their stories. Please read and continue supporting Community Associations Awareness month during the last stretch of March!


Airdrie by Scott Mitchell


I actually grew up in NE Calgary and moved here in 2006, but my cousins all grew up here in the 70's and 80's so we were in Airdrie a great deal and knew the city very well before moving here. There are two things prominent to most who come here or pass by on the QE2. The Giant silver water tower and the trains that pass through every 45 mins or so. I knew I had to incorporate those 2 features into the design.

Airdrie really owes its existence to the Canadian Pacific Railway. Airdrie was named in 1889 and it's first inhabitants were railway workers of the Calgary and Edmonton Railway. The locomotives would stop in town and could pick up water because Nose Creek remained ice free year round. Thus creating jobs for people who, in turn, created a need for housing and services. The crossing sign near the bottom is a nod to the railway and its pivotal role in Airdrie's history.

Airdrie is the highest city in Canada the At an elevation of 1089m (3573ft). Before we depended on Calgary for our water supply, Airdrie had its own small supply and constructed a water tower in 1959 at the highest point to supply water pressure for the town. In 1972 technology rendered the tower obsolete and in 2003 the city voted to keep the tower as a universal marker and one that is still the most prominent figure in the city skyline. Its likeness is noted at the top of the logo.


Believe it or not...this was the first logo I submitted to Connor. The concept was scratched out on some paper and used some of the vintage typefaces popular with t-shirts now. Not wanting to overthink stuck. I hope the residents of Airdrie enjoy the design and the people and families who grew up in Airdrie are proud of the fantastic family oriented city it has quickly become.

Beltline, Lake Bonavista & Victoria Park by Karla from Fresca Designs

The Beltline is sometimes considered part of downtown. It’s a median between SW and SE Calgary, and it’s where a lot of younger people live and work. I wanted something younger looking for this community. I used the Calgary skyline and the mountains behind as signifier of where the Beltline sits. I included the “X” again this time to separate the SW and SE with arrows. The triangle is considered the strongest shape, and I wanted to encase the design in something strong and trendy.

For the Lake Bonavista community design, I was driving by Lake Bonavista in the summer and its reminiscent of driving by a cottage community. Everyone is outside enjoying their lake access. Young and old canoeing, paddle surfing, swimming and more. For the community t-shirt I wanted something that could demonstrate all that. I wanted to include paddles and used Local Laundry’s “X” to unify. I used some distressed fonts on an angle because it reminds me of an old camp shirt I had. It gives it a bit of fun and makes “Bonavista” stand out more. There are more than a couple lake communities in Calgary, so I needed Bonavista to take the spotlight. Seeing the age range in the community, I wanted something anyone would be comfortable wearing.

Lastly, when designing Victoria Park’s Tee, I looked at the heritage and urban feel Victoria Park  represents. I drew some Victorian style ornaments to encapsulate the name, and overlaid some textures to make the shirt look worn. I also used some vintage fonts to enhance the historical heritage Victoria Park has kept alive. Victoria Park is historic, urban and thriving, that is how they describe themselves. As one of Calgary’s most walkable and cyclable communities I also included a vintage bike!

Cliff Bungalow & Killarney by Cyndi Slobodian

I first came across Local Laundry back in 2015 and immediately loved the idea behind it. I was more than excited to jump on board and come up with some designs  to represent the fantastic communities we have here in Calgary. The first design I did was for the community of Cliff Bungalow. One of the many reasons why I love this neighbourhood, is for it’s character buildings and it’s obvious connection to the core. As well still being able to maintain it’s well established roots and a lot of the elements that keep it so different and contrasting from downtown. When coming up with concepts I did a lot of research on the history and different buildings that are known in the area and knew right away knew that I wanted to come up with some way to use the front facade of the Cliff Bungalow Elementary School. Playing around with different perspectives and elevations and using contrasting typefaces, I wanted to create something that is a physical reminder of a building in the neighbourhood, and an idea of contrast that the neighbourhood itself provides to downtown. And lastly of course something I would be excited to wear and that hopefully others would be stoked to wear too!

The Killarney shirt was the second design I did for Local Laundry after the Cliff Bungalow design. After spending countless evenings roaming about the neighbourhood walking the dog, and doing some research I was able to learn that Killarney is one of Calgary’s oldest communities. In being one of the oldest communities, it means that it is lucky enough to have these massive mature trees all throughout. That has to be one of my absolute favourite things about walking around the community. I love looking down the streets and seeing the massive tree canopy overhead and all the large trees in the area. It’s kind of surreal to look around and think that all these trees have grown and matured as the community has grown and changed, and are still around to provide the area with brilliant greenery, tons shade and almost a sense of security. That was the main inspiration behind the design of the Killarney shirt. I wanted to recreate the scene of looking down the streets while standing in the middle of the road while still being an awesome graphic that myself and others would actually want to represent the community and would be proud to wear.


Elboya Heights by Michael Kurtz

My wife Jennifer and I moved to Elboya in spring of 2002, and for the last 15 years we’ve grown to love our community and watch it change. When the opportunity came to design a logo to represent Elboya as part of a community wide initiative, I couldn’t resist.

The designs had to include either Elboya or the more formal Elboya Heights name, as well as be produced in a single colour. I started by thinking about some of the elements that makes our community special to us - the green space, Elbow River, Stanley Park and the Canada Geese that you see there that make you realize that spring has finally arrived. I also thought about the history of the community (established formally in 1947) and the way that it’s been changing in the decade since we moved in. All of that gave me a ton of inspiration and places to start ideating.

So in the end I came up with 3 designs that I submitted for the contest, each of which celebrated a distinct aspect of the community

The first design featured graphic elements representing the Elbow River, which plays such an important part in the fabric of the community (mostly good - sometimes bad) and the Canada Geese that arrive each spring.

For all of the designs I chose to use the more formal “Elboya Heights” name and include the year the community was established to highlight the fact that it’s has been around for a long time, yet is still relatively unknown compared to it’s neighbours like Elbow Park or Britannia.

The second design was quite a departure from the first, and used only typography to capture some of the changes that Elboya has been going through, specifically referencing the modernist style of architecture that is quite prevalent for a lot of the new builds in the community.

The third design was a specific reference to all of the poplar trees that are so common in the community, especially in and around Stanley Park. The unique shape for the leaves was used as the main design element and was attached to the ribbon with the community name as a way of reflecting the community’s growth and vibrancy. After an online vote of community members, it was this design, the third design that was selected as the one to be used by Local Laundry.

Elbow Park by Shannon Larkins

In June 2013, our community was at ground zero of the largest natural disaster in Alberta’s history. Like all of my neighbours on 6th Street, work at Blackcoffee Studio stopped for days as we tended to our flooded homes, devastated family and broken community. However, within a week, we rallied dusting ourselves off and launched a media strategy to get insurance for destitute neighbours. Out of the devastation, a sense of community and resiliency grew. So when I was asked if Blackcoffee Studio would contribute the Elbow Park t-Shirt design for Local Laundry, I immediately said yes. The design was created around the community logo. We kept it simple and bold to represent the strength of the neighbourhood and its residents. Symbolically the t-shirt was launched in time for Neighbour Day in 2016.

Kensington & Sunnyside by Erin Lawrence

As a native Calgarian, this city is my whole world. My childhood, my schools, my friends, my family; they’re all here. I currently call the communities of Sunnyside and Kensington my home, and was stoked when the opportunity came up to design t-shirts for the Community Collection. I was really excited to show my take on the communities as a graphic designer.

With the Kensington tee, I really wanted to show something trendy, classic and timeless, which is how I see the community itself. There is always something cool and interesting going on, lots of foot traffic and bikers, and the area never goes out of style. Through living in Kensington, the amount I walk and bike places instead of driving, rose a huge amount. I toyed with the idea of including bikes, pedestrians, street signs, etc, all on the t-shirt, but after some thought, I decided on a simpler approach. I wanted the community “logo” to slightly resemble a street sign, as I personally see the heart of the community as the intersection of Kensington Road and 10th Street. To accomplish my goal of designing something classic and timeless, I chose to simplify the imagery to a single bike, rather than a clutter of bikes and pedestrians. I also thought a sans serif typeface would up the trendiness of the design as well. Overall, I think the design feels like the community. Classic, timeless and trendy.

For the Sunnyside t-shirt, I wanted to create something that gave a little sneak peak at one of my favourite things about living in Sunnyside. I love to walk along Memorial Drive, when the sun is setting and bouncing light off the river and cruise along the Peace Bridge gazing at the mountains in the distance. Both of these visions are incorporated into the Sunnyside design!

Mahogany by Jonathan Taylor

I tried to embody the number one reason that people move to or live in Mahogany, which is the lake, however more specifically is the summer, and the ever-longed for beach season! One of the most popular activities in Mahogany is paddle boarding, since there are not motorboats allowed. 

With the lake incorporate I also tried to create a t-shirt that people would be happy to wear, and a t-shirt design that didn't look like a typical "community shirt".

Trust me, I don’t think anyone would be walking around with the actual Mahogany logo on their shirt. Therefore, my vision and intention was to have the design be similar to something like Reef, Billabong or Hollister would create. 

Marda Loop by Courtney Marshall 

Marda Loop has a very unique history I wanted to showcase in the design. My process began by researching how Marda Loop got its name. It actually originates from two significant South Calgary landmarks. “Marda” comes from the Marda Theatre, which was founded by Mark and Mada Jenkins. They merged their names to create it! The “loop” stems from a trolley car that used to travel around the early areas of downtown Calgary. The trolley made its way to 34th Ave and 20th St, before ‘looping’ back to the centre of the city. The name caught on with neighbourhood residents and has remained despite both the theatre and trolley not being in operation. Both features are key to the area and I really thought it was such an interesting story of how this neighbourhood came to be! 
For the design, I began with a simple outlined, front-view of a trolley car. The trolley car symbolizes connection and adventure, and even though you can’t ride a trolley in Marda Loop today, the community is a hub for activity! It’s a place were you can enjoy live entertainment (particularly during their Marda Gras Festival), shop at specialty stores, play all sorts of outdoor sports, and the list goes on! To emphasize the loop, I encompassed the design in a playful circle. The font I chose is very fun and the cursive design subtly highlight the loops. The font is fun and lively, just like Marda Loop! This community to me, exemplifies what Calgary is all about, making memories and enjoying life to fullest! 

Mission by Amy Webber

I designed the Mission t-shirt because Mission is my absolute favourite community in our city, and I love living here. It was a challenge to come up with a way to capture the essence of this community, because it has so many different aspects. Mission is pretty much downtown but still has quiet residential streets and parks, it’s framed by the Elbow river and 17th avenue, it has a blend of brand new buildings and historic character buildings, it has an eclectic mix of local businesses that give it almost a small town vibe and lastly it’s always trendy and alive. I decided to centre the design around 4th street, because it is obviously the heart of Mission, and has even been voted the best street in Calgary. With some of the best restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and bakeries in the city, everything in Mission is only a quick walk away. I was inspired by old New York City street signs, because although we may not have towering high-rises, I feel like Mission and NYC share a similar mix of old and new, and have that trendiness that makes people want to set up shop here. Calgary may be a tiny city in comparison, but we have been a bit of a hub within Alberta and Canada, and so I wanted to try to include that vibe in the design as well.

Signal Hill by Curtis Lesperance

Signal Hill has some of the best views in the city, ranging from views of downtown Calgary in the East, the valley and protected land to the South, and the mountain range to the West. With the Signal Hill shirt, I knew from the start what I wanted it to look like. Although it went through many versions, it was still the same concept. I needed to ensure that I captured two main items; the hills in the area and the numbers on the side of the hill facing Westhills Shopping Centre. The numbers along the hill bring a lot of history to who we are and what was once there. The numbers, 137, 113, 151, and 51, were placed there during WWI by the soldiers that were stationed in the area who were training before leaving to battle overseas. Every year there is a fantastic Remembrance Day memorial held at the flagpoles on the middle of the hill to honour those who fought for us. The entire Signal Hill area is a fantastic community, with friendly people and business surrounding. I am glad my wife and I choose to move there 5 years ago and we hope to stay there until we retire.



Back to Kathleen here! If you are someone you know would like to be a guest blogger on our blog drop us a line! Chat at chaaa next week Calgary - stay local! 

PSST, I have a brand new blog up on my personal blog ‘That Awkward Dating Moment’ and if you’re already lurkin’ on social media follow me on Instagram @kathleensmiles_