We had the good fortune of connecting with Max Slavkin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Max, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
In 2008, my bff since pre-school (Aaron) and I were volunteering for the Obama campaign, and inspired by Shepard Fairey’s famous HOPE poster. It got us thinking about all the other artists & designers out there who wanted to contribute their talents to the campaign, but who didn’t know how, and didn’t have a big platform of their own. So we launched Design For Obama, crowdsourcing poster art for the campaign, and were blown away by the response from hundreds of artists across the country. The project was featured in the NY Times, we published the collection as a coffee table book with Spike Lee, and have been growing that community of artists ever since. What started as free posters for downloads is now a business offering social impact art & design on everything from socks to books to posters.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m most proud of the community we’ve built. Our artists, our customers, and our team here at CAN. Starting a business is super hard, and even in the best case scenario, involves lot of failure, lots of stress, and lots of uncertainty. My background was in political science, and my co-founder is a graphic designer – neither of us knew anything about starting a business. From financing to hiring to how to source suppliers to building a website – everything was brand new to us. We had no other option but to embrace it, to know we didn’t have the answers and would just have to figure it out anyways. Having a community to support each other through such a chaotic process made it all possible.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My wife and I just moved from San Francisco to Sacramento, and we’re still new here ourselves! We’d of course hike along the rivers, and go the state capitol. The Capitol Mall has an incredible collection of very old, very cool trees I love exploring. Then we’d go camping! Between the Sierras, the coast, and Northern California’s forests, there’s no shortage of amazing places to see.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutout to Holly Savas – CAN’s marketing director and an artist herself, who’s been a big part of CAN’s success. Shoutout to Shepard Fairey for inspiring us with his amazing HOPE posters. SHoutout to CAN Artists Nikkolas Smith & Amy Smith (no relation), who are also in LA and both amazing.