Featured image for No Shelter is the Platform For Creatives Who Have Been Displaced, Overlooked, and Forgotten

No Shelter is the Platform For Creatives Who Have Been Displaced, Overlooked, and Forgotten

by Theresa Christine Johnson on 11/15/2022 | 5 Minute Read

You may scream along to Rage Against the Machine, wailing that “the frontline is everywhere,” but those words have a deeper meaning than just being the refrain for a certified banger. While the media might lead us to believe war and desperation happen only in faraway lands, that’s very much not the case. People everywhere experience times when they are displaced, overlooked, and forgotten, so Stanley Vaganov chose to do something about it.

Stanley has worked in design for nearly two decades at global ad agencies, small startups, and boutique studios. He founded BeCurious in 2018 to create an agency that he felt didn’t quite exist in the design world. “I wanted something that focused on the team, mental health, stability, and happiness of not only our well-being but also the type of clients we work with and the type of projects we take on.”

Editorial photograph

With this mission in mind, Stanley encourages the team to pitch products and ideas to work on internally. Client work can be exciting, but in-house projects grant BeCurious employees the chance to put their specific passions to use.

No Shelter came about as one of these endeavors. The idea for a platform to help creatives connect and combat injustice had been on Stanley’s mind for a while. Then, in February of 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine, that ignited the fire for the site to go live within mere days.

“Frustration was the catalyst for this,” Stanley said. “We as creatives aren’t really thought of as the first responders or the people we turn to in a crisis. But I always had that ache to do something that benefits humanity.”

Editorial photograph
Editorial photograph

He added that he has Russian heritage and spent a significant amount of time growing up in Ukraine, so the world events felt more personal to him. Being based in Montreal, the BeCurious and No Shelter founder doesn’t face the kind of devastation that the people of Ukraine experienced in February and continue to experience. But he couldn’t help but wonder what his life might look like under different circumstances or what life would be like if something like an invasion did happen where he lived. This kind of compassion and empathy helped shape what No Shelter would offer.

“I started thinking that a lot of people were going to be displaced, and there would be a lot of careers on hold,” he said. “We wanted to help the creatives of the world and give us all a bit more strength and impact within our community. We’ll create a safe haven for all of us to be a part of.”

On top of agencies posting job offers, No Shelter offers a platform for designers, photographers, illustrators, architects, and more to create a profile and be visible to potential employers. The site is so much more than a job board, though.

Editorial photograph

One of the vital ways that Stanley and the team at No Shelter are helping the creative community is by sharing member stories. In the same vein as the street portraits from Humans of New York and the nonprofit Innocence Project, Stanley wants to give a voice to people facing war, injustice, and prejudice because it’s so easy for the general population as well as policymakers to forget that these people are not statistics or news clips—they’re humans.

“You understand who’s getting impacted and how it affects them,” Stanley said. “We encourage people to be honest and call people out by name. It’s kind of like a weird humanity Yelp review type of thing when you’re transparent about the experiences you have. And it’s okay to make mistakes, but it’s more important to ask questions on how to create change in the right way and ask those affected by it.”

No Shelter has people from around the world willing to share their stories—not only Ukraine, but also Iran, Pakistan, parts of Africa, and other countries. Stanley and the team are still searching for the best method to get these stories out into the world, whether that's blog posts, podcasts, or some other type of media.

Editorial photograph

Being less than a year old, No Shelter is now looking to expand and find companies interested in placing ads on the site. The heart of the site will remain, though—to share stories and create community not only between creatives but also with policymakers and companies who have a significant impact.

“I don’t want it to be seen as an attack on the employers or attacking communities or leaders,” Stanley said. “I want it to be a platform where we can have these conversations together. It’s about the things that creatives are feeling and expressing and going through and what can be done to help them out. Whether you’re a lawmaker, a congressperson, or an agency owner, just having these conversations and opening up the line of communication allows them to be part of the narrative. Change takes years and years, but it has to begin somewhere.”

Since starting No Shelter in early 2022, Stanley has found the biggest challenge with running the community is time. Certain aspects of the website have become automated, but others are time-consuming enough to not scale well. And while the team has welcomed some wonderful volunteer efforts, the strength of the community will continue to lie in more and more people participating in the growth as well.

Editorial photograph

Additionally, Stanley encouraged people to reach out if this is a mission that moves them because everyone who approaches them has a unique skill set and the ability to shape No Shelter’s future.

“Every volunteer that comes in looks to me, sort of wondering what work they should be doing,” he said. “But I don’t want this seen as that. I want people to make it their own. If you bring something to the table and can use this platform as a means for it to happen, then reach out. As more people become affiliated, we can collectively grow it in many different directions." 

"This isn’t mine," he added. "This is for everybody.”

You may also like