Kirsten Stackhouse's design is displayed among rows of the other 14 designs commissioned for The Last Straw initiative.

McDonald's selects NBCCD instructor for national project

NBCCD instructor Kirsten Stackhouse’s design will be displayed on limited-edition McDonald’s Canada serving trays as part of a national initiative to promote sustainability and the environment.

“Working on a project for a Canada-wide campaign from my studio in Fredericton is a great opportunity and really cool,” said Stackhouse, who is a graphic design instructor at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design and an alumna of the program.

In March 2022, McDonald’s Canada reached out to her to create a design to reflect her perspective on sustainability. She worked on the piece with McDonald’s until the initiative was launched May 31.

The initiative launched by McDonald’s, called The Last Straw, uses some of its leftover and discontinued plastic straws to make a limited number of upcycled trays.

McDonalds chose 15 Canadian and Indigenous artists from across Canada to create original artwork, focused on sustainability and the environment, to be displayed on some of the upcycled trays.

Designing an upcycled world

A statement from McDonald’s Canada stated Kirsten was selected alongside the other fourteen artists to “represent the country’s rich tapestry of diversity in both geography and population.”

“It was a priority to choose an array of artists who would present different perspectives on what sustainability and the environment means to them, based on their geography and lived experiences.”

Although the designed trays will not be circulated in McDonald’s restaurants, they will be donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities houses for display and go to auction for fundraising money. Two trays featuring Stackhouse’s design will be donated to New Brunswick Ronald McDonald House Charities.

The designers were given three themes to choose from to create the foundation of their The Last Straw design: a sustainable future, an upcycled world, or a landscape worth saving.

Stackhouse said she chose an upcycled world. The design leans into a more playful illustration style for her piece, which features a “vibrant, fun, maritime-y street scene, endowed with creative and quirky upcycled materials.”

“Being able to work from a brief that asks you to respond to themes of sustainability with your own voice, and then produce something unique from your heart to be a part of a larger campaign, is a real treat.”

Freelance start established at NBCCD

Stackhouse credits her studies at NBCCD for teaching her more than just the software and tools of graphic design. She was taught at NBCCD—and now instills within her own students as a college instructor—skills of ideation, problem solving, building, and advanced techniques in visual storytelling.

“NBCCD gave me an incredible platform that I built further upon through my agency work, and continue to build upon now as a freelancer and educator.”

She also said having her online portfolio through her website and social media is how she’s gained many of her opportunities as a freelance designer.

Forging designers

NBCCD college director, Carrie Nolan, said it’s great to see NBCCD talent represented on the national stage.

“We are forging designers at NBCCD who are equipped with the skills to be competitive and make a name for themselves on the national scale. We are proud of Kirsten and happy to continue to have her at the college as an instructor to mentor and teach the next generation of graphic designers.”

As for the future, Kirsten said she hopes this opportunity opens the door to interesting projects, as she continues to teach and work as a freelance graphic designer.

“I do a lot of layout design, packaging, branding, and illustrative work (which I love) but it’s always fun when something a little weird and wonderful walks through the door.”