Designer Spotlight: CanvasPop Empowers Companies And Employees Through Personalized Art

Designer Spotlight is a regular column focusing on style/design and the professional woman.

CanvasPop, one of North America’s leading digital art printing companies, launched its corporate art program expansion this month to help businesses strengthen office culture and empower staff. The company specializes in working with its customers to create personalized, quality artwork for the home and, now, the workplace at competitive prices.

“Companies that come to us really care about their employees and company culture,” says CanvasPop Cofounder & CEO Nazim Ahmed.

CanvasPop produces canvas prints, photo collages, magnets and custom photo pillows using customers’ downloaded images. For ready-to-hang canvas prints, CanvasPop uses Canon professional equipment to print a photo, then stretches it by hand onto museum quality canvas and laminates it by hand with a scratch-resistant UV coating. Each canvas print is designed to last over 100 years and CanvasPop backs its work with its ‘100% Love Guarantee’. Canvas print prices start at $30.

CanvasPop has offices in Las Vegas and Ottawa, Ontario. Its production facility is based in Las Vegas to accommodate quick turnarounds and fast shipping.

Founders Nazim Ahmed and Adrian Salamunovic are serial entrepreneurs. They cofounded WorkshopX, a startup studio focused on building web-based businesses. Its portfolio includes DNA11 – developing customized artwork of DNA, fingerprints or lips; Crated – an online selling & buying art platform; PopKey – a pioneering, animated GIF keyboard; and CanvasPop. Prior to founding CanvasPop in 2009, Ahmed earned his B.Sc. Honors in Molecular Genetics from Western University and Salamunovic studied at Algonquin College of Applied Arts & Technology. Both are avid business mentors to startups, including Silicon Valley’s Founder Institute and 500 Startups.

Kristina Moore: It sounds like what has been appealing to you is the idea that if employees feel connected to their workspace, then they feel more engaged and connected to their work. Am I right about that?

Nazim Ahmed: Yes, absolutely. CanvasPop at its core is about personalization. We provide our clients with the ability to turn their digital images into custom artwork. We feel that employees will better identify and resonate with visual art pieces that have meaning and reflect their company’s culture. Companies should engage their staff in design decisions – after all, it’s their workspace, which means that their tastes and opinions matter. We definitely feel that art in the workspace can and should be a physical extension of a company’s brand and culture.

Tell us about CanvasPop’s expansion of its corporate art program.

Ahmed: Shortly after we launched our consumer business, which focuses specifically on turning photos into physical items (including artwork and other home decor items), we started talking to businesses about personalizing their workspaces. Over the years, that part of the business has really grown and we’ve ended up with a great portfolio of clients – from Shopify to Disney to Red Bull to Wired Magazine and Sesame Street.

Over time, we started formalizing the process, which starts with a client consultation, followed by a proofing process and, of course, production and shipping of the final pieces from our production facility in Las Vegas. We really want to offer a full solution, from ideation to delivery, while making it as easy and effortless as possible for the user.


Fuel features CanvasPop’s new customized corporate art program.

Identity Realization (IDR), a research group studying the psychology of working environments, conducted a study into the most effective work environments and found professionals working in ‘empowered’ offices, in which they can have input on office art and culture, were 30% more productive and had fewer health complaints. Has this finding influenced your corporate art program?

Ahmed: Absolutely. It’s the core of what we’re trying to accomplish with the corporate art side of CanvasPop. Companies that come to us really care about their employees and company culture, and we’re not surprised at all to hear that companies like this – i.e. companies that empower and engage their employees – in turn will produce more positive output. This also really influences how we do our initial consultations with companies. We suggest ways to get their employees involved, what content would have emotional meaning to their staff, and then we compile a list of the company’s core values and see if we can incorporate them into the final pieces. It’s not only the content, but the input from employees that also helps create the best result and provide the company with a lot more than just art for their walls.

Adrian Salamunovic: We conducted our own research and survey on LinkedIn. We also found out that art just makes people feel happy – that’s a hard thing to quantify, but we know that happy employees make for a better working environment. Everybody wants that, right? 77 percent of professionals said it makes them feel happy. They also said office art inspires them (74 percent) and makes them feel creative (73 percent). If you want to see the infographic and full survey results they’re available here.


A glimpse inside Shopify.

Are companies using CanvasPop art to convey their company core values beyond simple logos of identification?

Ahmed: Yes, definitely. We encourage companies to explore all of their visual content that can be repurposed as art pieces, allowing them to reflect their identity and culture on their walls. Each piece should have a meaning behind it and should serve as an interesting conversation piece. That opportunity to tell a story about each individual work of art is a great by-product of creating personalized pieces.

Salamunovic: To expand on that, art is a great way to literally ingrain your company’s core values, mission statement, and even visualize goals. In the poll we conducted, we were surprised and a little shocked to find that less than 40% of employees can recite their company’s values or mission statement. This is not really the employee’s fault – we, as founders and leaders, have to find ways to make sure all our employees know what direction the ship is sailing towards. One way we’ve seen progressive companies do this is by printing their values and mission statement as art and displaying them in common areas where employees (and even customers) can see them clearly.

What unique ways have you found companies are using CanvasPop?

Ahmed: Companies today have an enormous amount of digital content. They are tapping into this content to create unique pieces of art with real meaning. Whether it’s a corporate Instagram feed, historic photos, blueprints, company core values, digital art created by their internal design team, client/portfolio work or word art, the possibilities are endless. The key is that each image has a meaning to the company and its employees.

Salamunovic: A couple of favorites that I’ve seen is when Wpromote, a digital marketing agency out of LA, printed their Instagram feed as a living art wall. They even made the wall look like the Instagram app. I always think it’s a good idea to print out things like customer testimonials, product shots and the head shots of your team as a way of showing off your company culture and making your team part of the story. I also like the idea of getting your employees to crowdsource the images, so they feel like they are part of the process. That’s something that Shopify does for their wall art.

How do individuals tend to use CanvasPop?

Ahmed: Individuals use CanvasPop mainly for turning their photos into physical products. There are now over one trillion photos being taken every year and our clients are always looking for novel ways to turn these photos into tangible products. We started with artwork – both canvas and framed paper prints – and have now expanded into other home decor products. We are continuing to evolve on the consumer side of the business, so keep an eye out for some of our new products – both physical and digital.

Salamunovic: As gifts. There’s nothing more personalized and heartfelt then printing your favorite memories or moments as photo gifts.


Wpromote office space.

How do you see CanvasPop continue to make a difference in how people work and live?

Ahmed: CanvasPop empowers our customers to be creative. We provide them with the tools, online support, and resources to use that creativity to create meaningful physical products. Even though we can’t all be [professional] artists, we can still participate in the CanvasPop creative process. All you need is an image and we take care of the rest. If we can encourage people to personalize their spaces – whether at home or at work – and create interesting conversation pieces, we’ve done our job.

Salamunovic: We’re all about personalization and allowing people to capture and immortalize life’s best moments. We’re honored that hundreds of thousands of people and companies trust us to print their memories whether it’s on a photo pillow, canvas print, or as framed art prints.

How do you replenish your creativity and energy?

Ahmed: I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling and observing how my kids take on the world. I love to see the world through their lens. Playing with my 5-year-old daughter and my 6.5-year-old son reminds me that we are all born creative. Over time we might just have to work a little harder to tap into that creativity, but it’s [still] there within us.

Salamunovic: For me, it’s four things: travel, reading, cycling and going on the race track. I have a real problem disconnecting from our business, because I’m always on. When I’m on my bike or on the race track, it forces me to put away my iPhone and really focus on what’s in front of me. It’s almost therapeutic for me. Reading is really important for me, because I think it’s important to always be learning, and travel for me helps unlock new ideas and perspectives. There’s nothing better than traveling to continuously spark fresh new ideas.

Kristina Moore is a style expert focusing on visual presentation as a dynamic professional tool. She is the founder and editor of Corporate Fashionista.