I don’t often write letters to large corporations, so apologies if I seem a little shy or come on too strong. I was talking to Sophie about you the other day, and it reminded me how much I love and admire you, even if you are an online design tool.
The Summer Fling That Started Our Love Story
I know you probably don’t remember, but our paths first crossed in the summer of 2019, when I was working at a literature festival in Yorkshire. I’d dabbled a little in graphic design in my previous jobs, making social media graphics and marketing materials in Photoshop. However, this organisation used Canva, as it was cheaper than Photoshop (well actually free) and didn’t require the same level of training as the Adobe suite.
Back then, I can’t deny it Canva, I was a little snobby about using you. I’d had all this experience in Photoshop — the “industry standard”, the one that all the marketing and design people used. I knew some shortcuts. I could confidently ask someone to “Send me the PSD file” and know what to do with it. Why would I want to use something as basic as Canva? But I was a temporary freelancer in a busy office, I certainly wasn’t going to come out and publicly denounce you.
Slowly but surely, I learned to appreciate your differences. How generous you were – the variety of templates and images you had, even in the free version. You were easy to understand — I never found myself Googling articles on how to use you as I had with haughty old Photoshop. You didn’t make me work for simple things like Photoshop either – if I needed a drawing of a house, you had so many to choose from, ready-made and rights-free.
I was using branding and layouts created by the company I was freelancing for, so I never got to see your full creativity and inventiveness. However, over the course of that magical summer, we went from enemies to lovers — in the vein of Pride & Prejudice, Bridgerton and 10 Things I Hate About You.
But then I finished my contract and moved away, and our summer romance turned into nothing but a distant memory. Predictably I ran back into the arms of my old creative partner Photoshop and thought nothing more of you for many months.
A Lockdown Love Affair
Fast-forward to 2020, and the first wave of worldwide lockdowns. I was in Vietnam, working remotely for a theatre company in the UK. In response to school closures, the company was fast-tracking the launch of an interactive home-learning adventure set in space. I was the marketing manager for the project. I needed to produce fun space-themed assets that work across all their social media and FAST.
Photoshop was no help. Everything takes so long and is so fiddly to adjust. There’s no sense of the joy that we needed for a family audience. It was then I remembered you Canva, my summer fling. You were lively and straightforward and knew your way around different social media post sizes. So I set up an account and off I went, using Canva for business.
It was a whirlwind romance. Over the weeks and months of lockdown, I made Facebook posts, Instagram videos, Twitter cards, YouTube thumbnails, email marketing headers, and more. My love for you grew with each passing day Canva, and soon I couldn’t get by without you. I even started using you for non-work projects, making personalised prints for friends’ birthdays, desktop backgrounds, and even video rounds for quizzes (it was 2020 and we were doing a lot of Zoom quizzes).
Using Canva For Business: an Office Romance
Things got even more serious. You kept offering me a free trial of Canva Pro, and eventually, I took the plunge. At first, I just thought of it as a bit of paper — another invoice I could add to my business expenses — but I realise now that this was the start of a whole new chapter of our love story. I’m so glad I said yes. Once I saw what life was like as a Pro user, I never looked back.
I could add branding; automatically resize images to suit any social media platform; even schedule those posts directly from Canva. You took even my most zany requests seriously. I wanted a graphic of the skyline of Leeds… you were only too happy to oblige. I needed some jolly photos of eggs to use as part of our Good Egg social media marketing… of course, you had cheerful visuals by the dozen.
It was a magical moment when I was able to introduce you Sophie, and now our love for you is shared. We compliment you in our Good Egg business Whatsapp chat. We compare the great things we’ve made with you and share our excitement about your latest features. Sophie uses Canva to make fantastic Reels for her Normal Bodies project. It’s a match made in heaven.
Haters Gonna Hate
As you’ve become more successful Canva, I know you’ve attracted your critics. People complain that your designs have become too ubiquitous; that you should *never* design a logo in Canva (*quietly moves the Good Egg logo out of view*); that you should make hiring a designer a priority as soon as you start making any money.
I love designers, Canva: I think the work they do is phenomenal and I know that the work they can make (probably in Photoshop) will be on another level than anything we can make together. But you pay a hefty premium for that, both in money and time. I know that with you, I can whip up user-friendly templates in a way that’s cost-effective and efficient.
And that’s exactly what you set out to do Canva. You were co-founded by a 19-year-old Australian college student called Melanie Perkins who had no Silicon Valley connections and was rejected by over 100 investors. She and her co-founder Cliff Obrecht just wanted to make it so that anyone was able to design. And the original free software they built was to help design yearbooks, inspired by Melanie wanting to help her mum, who was a teacher. Putting aside my feelings about whether billionaires should even exist (no), these are the kinds of rich entrepreneurs I want to see. Fellow good eggs.
So thank you Canva, for being a company built on kindness and accessibility, and for making the sometimes elitist design world seem more approachable. I love you and I’m not afraid to tell everyone so.
Lots of love,