In 2009, Nazim Ahmed and Adrian Salamunovic expanded their homegrown brand from DNA 11 to CanvasPop, as they set their sites on helping you print your photos onto canvas. This month, Where I Work visits the company in America’s northern neighbor of Canada (in Ottawa to be exact) who’ve grown their handcrafted business to fill a second facility in Las Vegas to help keep up with demand. Using nothing but high quality materials, the company aims to help you create your own personalized artwork in the easiest, most fun way possible, using your images, even as small as your Instagram photos! Today the company happily employs 50 people and has printed over a quarter of a million canvases and they were kind enough to give us a tour of their ever-growing company.
CanvasPop’s co-founders Nazim Ahmed and Adrian Salamunovic each have their own working styles. “We’re surrounded by a great team here allowing us a lot of flexibility in our work hours,” says Adrian.
Adrian considers himself more of a “night thinker”, and does the majority of his work into the wee hours of the morning. “We’re really focused on results here rather than rigid work structure.” Nazim Ahmed, co-founder, is more focused on creating a great work environment and culture that attracts the brightest design minds, creatives and developers. “Culture is very important to us.”
What’s your studio environment like?
We wanted to create an environment that lent itself to an ‘art factory’ type look and for that we needed industrial space. We’re a mixed environment of manufacturing and office space. So with its 40-foot ceilings, exposed beam and brick, and huge windows, the space had the characteristics we were looking for. It’s reminiscent of the meatpacking district in New York City.
A DJ booth in the middle of the production floor spins tunes throughout the building during the work day.
We’re big fans of concrete floors and reclaimed wood. We’re actually undertaking a project to recycle hundreds of wood pallets and turn them into wood that will be used for feature walls and desk surfaces.
In the end, it’s about creating a fun and creative environment that people look forward to working in.
How long have you been in this space?
We’ve occupied our current space for three years and are in the process of remodeling an expansion that will double our Ottawa office space. Two years ago we expanded into a 17,000-square-foot Las Vegas facility.
If you could change something about your workspace, what would it be?
Because of the open and airy layout, noise travels quickly through our production space. Our recent expansion allowed us to build “pods” that minimize the noise but still keep the awesome open concept. We have two modern kitchens within the facility but we’d love to add a restaurant some day in the future.
Is there an office pet?
We’re a dog friendly environment and there are often furry friends hanging out.
How do you record ideas?
Our walls are covered with whiteboard paint, transforming our entire space into a collaborative and inspirational environment. Even our bathrooms are finished with chalkboard paint, inspiring creativity wherever/whenever. People are often seen carrying Moleskines and taking notes or sketching out ideas with pen and paper.
Do you have an inspiration board? What’s on it right now?
We often use Pinterest as an inspiration board. Check out Adrian’s pins here.
Are there tools and/or machinery in your space?
All of our products are handcrafted using the highest quality canvas. Our production floor is home to top of the line equipment including printers and laminating presses. We also manufacture our own wood frames and everything is custom made so we have miter saws, nail machines, etc. Our team of developers, designers, and office staff use top of the line tools including 27″ cinema displays, Wacom tablets, and Macbooks.
What tool do you most enjoy using in the design process?
Throughout the design process, we use rendered sketches, moodboarding, Pinterest, bringing in and examining samples, as well as visiting Design Milk, Office Snapshots, Houzz, and Uncrate for inspiration.
What design software do you use, and for what?
We’re using Photoshop for the new office design concept.
Do you have a favorite piece or collection?
We have an art wall we’ve created where we feature some of our favorite LTD. artists (limited edition prints at a great price every week). Also, some images have been scanned from a recently purchased (by Adrian) 1820 Webster’s Pictorial Edition Dictionary to create some really cool art pieces made from the 100+ year old etchings.
When did you feel like you “made it”? With what piece? At what moment/circumstances?
When our sister company DNA 11 was featured in an episode of CSI: NY, or when DNA 11 art was sold in the MoMA store. For CanvasPop, it really felt like we made it when we reached 50 plus employees – it’s amazing to see such a great team emerge from something we started in a small apartment.
Tell us about a current project you’re working on. What was the inspiration behind it?
We’re in the midst of working on a game-changing project that involves helping people discover great art. We really feel like the online art game hasn’t really been disrupted yet. We think we’re in a position to make some interesting moves in this space.
Do you use any of your pieces in your own home/life?
We both have our own DNA Portraits hanging at home as well. Adrian’s walls are home to several LTD. artist pieces, as well as a satellite image of New York in the home office. Nazim loves using CanvasPop to display images of his family throughout his home.
Photos by Stephen Smith, unless otherwise noted.