Calgary artist's potty humour artwork aims to lift lid on world sanitation issues

Calgary artist Erin Moffatt took what she called a “crappy” situation and turned it into the piles of colourful nuggets at the centre of her artwork with the hope of drawing attention to a cause close to her heart.

Erin Moffatt's rainbow-coloured poop art catches attention of local charity and W. Brett Wilson

Erin Moffatt, a laid off engineer, started a new business with a line of artwork called Poop Heart, to help raise awareness of poor sanitation in impoverished countries.

Calgary artist Erin Moffatt took what she called a "crappy" situation and turned it into the piles of colourful nuggets at the centre of her artwork with the hope of drawing attention to a cause close to her heart.   

Moffatt, 35, a U of C graduate, lost her job as a mechanical engineer in the oil and gas industry at the start of the economic downturn last year. She turned to her artsy side and a hobby to create the line of artwork and novelty items called Poop Heart.

The goal of Moffatt's potty humour was first to solve a bathroom decorating problem, but it evolved into an idea she's passionate about, educating people about sanitation problems in impoverished countries. Her knowledge of the Calgary-based organization, Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation (CAWST) inspired her.

Until she wraps up her Kickstarter fundraiser by July 11, 10 per cent of the proceeds go to CAWST, but she's aiming for much more than that in the future.

Calgary entrepreneur and philanthropist W. Brett Wilson liked Erin Moffatt's Poop Heart idea, after she had a chance to pitch the idea to him. (Erin Moffatt)

"The lack of toilets is a huge issue in the world ... It's about starting that conversation with my artwork ... if that could bring the awareness about sanitation ... because it's about more than toilets, but about education around hygiene and water," she says.  

Moffatt's artwork adorns t-shirts, greeting cards, baby onesies, coffee mugs and baseball caps, depicting rainbow-coloured animals — from unicorns to bears, moose and elk —  pooping out multi-coloured heart-shaped droppings.

"It makes me laugh ... and I thought maybe it will make other people laugh," says Moffatt. "I'm always a bit of a goofball. Comedy has been something I've been passionate about. Ask anyone, I'm always talking about poop."

When she approached CAWST to partner, they jumped at the chance to work with Moffatt. Her business idea also caught the attention of entrepreneur and philanthropist W. Brett Wilson during a chance meeting.

In April, Moffatt met Wilson during the ride-sharing company Uber's promotional day in Calgary. Aspiring entrepreneurs had the chance to book a ride with an anonymous high-profile investor and make a five-minute pitch. When she went to get in the car, Wilson was there.  

"He loved it." He is now a big supporter of Moffatt's artwork and is helping her promote the idea. 

Moffatt eventually wants to make a big impact with Poop Heart.

She says 30 per cent of water pumps in Africa are broken, but not getting fixed. "And, it's probably just a 50-cent piece."

Ultimately, she says, "I want to use my engineering degree for good."

Proceeds from Erin Moffatt's Poop Heart artwork go to CAWST, a Calgary organization dedicated to improving sanitation in Third World countries. (Erin Moffatt)