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  • Writer's pictureKaren Seiger

Toast as Design Inspiration Part 3: Raw Toast Design

When we got to the Brooklyn Lyceum’s Holiday Market last December, I immediately lost my husband in the crowd.  A few minutes later, he reappeared and said, “Come with me – I found the perfect gift for Dean and Trish’s new baby.”  And we raced over to meet Jesse Kuhn of Raw Toast Design.  Dean and Trish promised us that they would stay in the city after their baby girl was born, rather than moving out to a big house in the suburbs.  And so the gift James found was a very sweet image  of a bright yellow sun with a pacifier in its mouth, rising up over the city skyline.  That image turned out to be Jesse Kuhn’s “The Early Birds,” a featured illustration in Time Out New York Kids.  It now hangs in the light-filled room of a beautiful baby girl — in New York City.

Jesse is a designer and illustrator.  He creates original artwork for commercial use, and he also sells them online and at some of the artisan markets in New York City.  His images are clever and funny, and they are beautifully drawn with generally subtle colors.  I actually feel bad for the “Poor Little Calamari” being dragged out of the ocean by a seagull, but the expression on his face and his dangling little tentacles simply crack me up.  As does “Meathead,” which is one of the best descriptive words in the English language in my opinion.  “Carbon Footprint” reminded me of the woman I recently saw allowing her cute but destructive little dogs to dig up the first fragile daffodils of spring.  You know that feeling.  That’s the kind of thought or emotion that Jesse captures so well.

So why the name “Raw Toast Design?  Jesse describes it best:

“Raw Toast actually came about during a late night run to a casino diner many years ago.  It was summoned to the counter after a friend had asked for the fastest thing they had on the menu.  The waitress politely tossed some bread-n-butter in front of us.  I then mumbled, “Raw Toast”… Everyone laughed and the name sort of stuck with me after that.  So a couple years later it became my ‘stage name in the art world.’  The simplicity of bread and butter is what I try strive for within my illustrations as well…simple, clear, conceptual statements, with a subtle sprinkling of wit and sarcasm.”

Jesse is currently busy with a wonderful educational program called The Quirkles®, which consists of “26 imaginary scientists that help children everyday, all over the world, develop a love and appreciation for science.”

You can meet Jesse at the Renegade Craft Fair Brooklyn on June 5th and 6th. His favorite toast is “wheat, lightly toasted with real butter…not the tub stuff.  If I’m feelin’ fancy I’ll splash some American cheese and scrambled eggs on top of it.”  Sounds good right about now, doesn’t it?

(All images from

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