Learning How to Make a Difference as an Artist with the Creative Action Network
"Nothing fuels social change like art." Meet Holly Savas, the marketing director of the Creative Action Network, the company that's using art as a voice to create social change.
Find Your Place in Creating Social Change as an Artist or as an Activist
The Creative Action Network is a community of creators and activists who are using art as a voice to change the world. The platform allows artists and designers to come up with wall art, apparel, stationary, and other merchandise that individually make a statement for a particular cause or social movement.
The designs are beautiful, modern, and most importantly impactful in expressing what you believe as an activist. Each purchase not only shows your support for a particular cause, but the proceeds also go to a partner foundation, depending on which design you buy. For instance, Creative Action Network's "Green New Deal" merchandise proudly gives back to Sunrise Movement with every sale, working hard to reverse the effects of climate change.
What The Good Startup loves most about Creative Action Network is that artists have an active place in changing the world for the better. So many social movements each day grow momentum to actually make a difference, and with the Creative Action Network, we see artists make a real living by using their talents and expressing their values. Artists get paid for their talent and voice, and causes receive funds, support, and awareness.
The community that Creative Action Network creates is like no other in that it connects activists, causes, and artists, and the movement raises more awareness each time someone sees the merchandise they provide. We were lucky enough to interview Holly Savas, the marketing director and an artist at the Creative Action Network, as well as two additional artists about their experiences at the social good company.
Bringing Creative Action Network to Life: an Interview with Holly Savas, Marketing Director of Creative Action Network
How did you find yourself at Creative Action Network, and what was it like starting out?
"I started working at Creative Action Network as a freelancer almost two years ago. A mutual friend told me about the opportunity and I was curious about the company and its mission.
And even though I'd been working from home as an artist and that was really great, my kids were getting older and more independent and I was beginning to feel a little restless professionally. I certainly wasn't going to work just anywhere, but it turned out everyone at Creative Action Network was nice and funny and also kind of badass in the best way possible.
Plus, they worked with artists on art projects focused on giving back, so it felt like a sweet spot for me since those are things I care deeply about."
How have Creative Action Network's mission and values affected the way you look at the world and how you live your day to day life?
"Good question! I'd have to start by saying that my values have been pretty well matched with CAN values from the beginning.
I'm definitely more engaged in the world of giving back now than I was pre-CAN. I've always been fairly political, only now it feels way more constructive to channel my political angst into helping good causes and artists, instead of just making angry paintings or screaming in the car when the news comes on (which I still also do)."
What has been Creative Action Network's impact so far, and what does the future look like? What are some upcoming milestones you want to hit to get to your vision?
"2020 is going to be a big year for Creative Action Network!
We have several big projects confirmed and big announcements to make, one of which is a new book! We're working with a publisher to make a Green New Deal tear-out poster book, with the launch planned to coincide with 2020 elections next fall.
We also have a top-secret campaign launching soon that will be our biggest yet, and I can't wait to talk about it!
Personally, one of my goals at Creative Action Network is to expand our women's rights art collection that gives back to UltraViolet to include more diverse art and artists. We'll be growing Creative Action Network a lot next year, that's for sure."
How does Creative Action Network balance helping many partner causes with curbing the issue of excessive consumption in America? How does your company provide greater value without encouraging additional consumerism?
"We’ve got two key ways we answer that question.
First, we work to manufacture all our products using best in class sustainable practices here in the USA, and we’re proud to be a Certified B-Corporation.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, we believe that so many of the key issues facing us today, like climate change, will only be fully addressed via broad cultural change, and nothing fuels social change like art.
By getting our artists’ work out into the real world on physical products, we’re able to reach people and their hearts in ways few other political messaging efforts can."
What are the actions you envision your customers taking after they purchase one of your products, and what's the reality of that customer journey?
If we take our feminist sock line designed by independent feminist artist Maggie Stern for example, customers really love her socks and when we launched, we imagined thousands of marching feet wearing RBG or Greta Thunberg socks to the next women's march or climate strike. We hoped customers would tell their friends about how great the socks are and how they give back to UltraViolet, fighting for the rights of every woman and girl, which would lead to more socks being purchased and Creative Action Network giving more money back to UltraViolet.
That's the customer journey we envisioned for our feminist socks and luckily I think it's pretty close to what the actual customer experience has been.
A second example would be the thousands of prints we sell at Creative Action Network and how central to our mission the idea of art changing the world is.
Liza Donovan's "Hear Our Voice" iconic poster was officially distributed at every 2017 Women's March, and now when customers buy it at Creative Action Network, I think it helps them stay connected to the march and to the greater movement. It's still one of Creative Action Network's most iconic posters and continues to be a favorite!"
What advice do you have for people who want to make a difference in this world?
"I'd say find one thing you really care about and then find a concrete way to fix or improve that one thing.
As activists, it's tempting to want to save the world all at once, but that seems a very stressful to me.
When my kids were little, their local public elementary school was on the rise but still needed a lot of parent help to become the fantastic school it is now. I wanted to volunteer to do everything! But I realized I would go crazy trying to do too many things, so I decided to repaint the parking lot mural.
It was something I cared about - art - and I knew how to do it. The sense of accomplishment I felt afterward was enough to lead me to the next project, and then the next one. Starting small and working small is a great way to avoid getting burned out."
From the Artists' Point of View: Q&A with Brooke Fischer and Liza Donovan, Two Artists at Creative Action Network
What are some personal reasons why you partnered with Creative Action Network?
Brooke Fischer: "Because they are awesome! They are bringing art with purpose into the spotlight. Creative Action is critical to creating awareness about what is happening in our political lives and how it affects us all and how we need to be involved."
Liza Donovan: "Creative Action Network chooses campaign subjects I care deeply about. I get to take some action on these issues, feel like I'm a part of the solution and a community, and have creative control over my designs."
What are your rights to your work, how's the money coming in, and how is it better than what you were doing before?
Brooke Fischer: "I keep all of the rights to my work. Creative Action Network pays me a percentage of sales. They are bringing many artists into the spotlight and that perpetuates many creative opportunities."
Liza Donovan: "It's definitely been great to make a bit of money for these designs but also love that part of the proceeds go to a cause in need. It feels like a win-win."
What do you do as an artist and an activist outside of the Creative Action Network?
Brooke Fischer: "I am a graphic designer and fine art painter. I use my art to create awareness about issues I am passionate about and want to bring attention to.
Climate change is a big issue for me. My mission is to create an awareness campaign with my art.
My art has always been about mother nature's smallest miracles such as bees, flowers and birds. With the climate crisis looming and threatening these critical pollinators, I feel it is my duty as an artist, naturalist and environmental advocate to use my art to create awareness about what people can do to help the climate crisis as well as other critical issues we face today."
Liza Donovan: "I occasionally help out with Graphic Design for voter rights activist making Door Hangers, stay current w/ women's rights in NC, and call as a constituent and let Senators know what's important, as well as attend marches."
Find empowering gifts that give back, and support local artists today at creativeaction.network.