Toronto illustrator creates T-shirts for Australian wildlife

Inna Gertsberg specializes in an art technique she calls “monsterization,” though she never envisioned the horrors endured by Australia’s animals during the country’s recent bushfires.

The Toronto illustrator is also a strong advocate for the less fortunate, including spearheading a fundraising drive that raised almost $140,000 to bring a group of Syrian refugees to Canada. “I always feel compelled to do something,” she says. “It would be shitty just to sit and watch it happen if I could do something.”

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Her most recent project is a line of T-shirts called #AustraliaStrong, which she designed to raise funds for the wildlife devastated by the fires that raged over the past several weeks. According to reports, more than 18 million hectares of land have burned and more than 1 billion animals have perished as a result of the fires.

Gertsberg designed three T-shirts featuring an anteater, a koala and a kangaroo performing feats of strength, accompanied by the #AustraliaStrong hashtag. She is selling the shirts for $30, with all proceeds going to the Australian chapter of the World Wildlife Fund.

“It was something that was fun to do, showing all of these animals at their best, fighting back,” said Gertsberg, who says that the project began with a “Hey, how about…” text from her friend Nora Voon of NODA Designs. She has received more than 60 orders since first publicizing the shirts on her LinkedIn page last week.

Gertsberg is an accomplished illustrator whose career has included stints with Würstlingroup, Lowe Roche Advertising, Publicis and FCB. In addition to providing the illustration for a kids book called “The Way Downtown: Adventures in Public Transit,” she has also produced advertising work for clients including Nokia  and the educational software company Passion Inc. (you can see her work on Instagram at @drawmeamonster).

The Australian bushfires have touched other members of Canada’s agency community. Horizon Media executive vice-president and general manager Kevin Kivi organized a silent auction Monday that raised just under $10,000 for the Red Cross and RSPCA Australia. “Business truly is personal when we unite and work collaboratively together,” said Kivi in a statement.

Chris Powell