Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Surtex 2011 - Exhibiting Artist Melissa Ybarra, Iza Pearl Design

The Iza Pearl Design booth was one of the most interesting and bright ones at Surtex this year. It was so fun to see!  It was also a pleasure to meet and talk to both Melissa and her husband – They did a wonderful job setting up the booth and Melissa's art is so lovely and fresh, you can't help it but notice it and smile :)

In my view, Surtex is still a fabulous show - as I mentioned in my earlier editorial, art licensing is full of opportunities and this particular show is where an artist should start exhibiting based on what I've seen so far.  Melissa's interview will illustrate this point even more. Her enthusiasm for what she does is so contagious that you might find yourself exhibiting at Surtex 2012!

Licensing artist Melissa Ybarra
The Moon from My Attic: Please introduce yourself - Hello! My name is Melissa Ybarra and I am a graphic and textile designer based in Dallas, Texas. Part-time, I am a designer in the marketing department at JCPenney, and the rest of my time, I spend freelancing.  I recently launched my surface and graphic design studio, Iza Pearl Design, and made my debut at Surtex in May 2011.

TMFMA: What's exciting about your creative work?  To have the opportunity to play with colors, text, lines, shapes, and texture is so exciting to me. It's such a blessing to be able to do what I love and to visually communicate and interpret the world around me. It's most exciting to think that my work has the possibility to invoke happiness, playfulness, and inspiration for others.

 TMFMA: What's your favorite medium or tool/s you create with? Nothing beats a number two pencil and paper. I'm a doodler, and tend to pick up a pencil and draw while I'm waiting for a file to save, talking on the phone, or during staff meetings. I then usually take those doodles into the computer and expand on them in Illustrator.  I do, though, love to break out the paints, paper, markers, glue, and trusty exacto and get a little messy now and then.

TMFMA: Who or what has inspired you in your art? Wow, that's a tough one...probably should have asked who hasn't inspired my art. First and foremost, my aunt, Shelly Meridith-Delice, who is a fantastic and established artist in the children's industry, probably has been my greatest inspiration. She's taught me to look at things creatively and how to bring fun, whimsy, and playful qualities to my designs. I spent my summers growing up in her design studio where I was exposed to so many artistic, wonderful and creative people who have all shaped my art in some way---the oh, so talented Jenny Faw, the legendary artist James Rizzi, illustrator extraordinaire Jeff Shelly, her brother, my uncle, the design-wiz Ross Meridith, uber-talented Don Carney and the creative genius Kemper Johnson

So much inspiration comes from my family, which is filled with wonderful artists, crafters and creative thinkers. We're not necessarily an intellectual bunch, but give us some paint, glue, fabric, sticks, leaves, rubber bands, crochet hooks, thread, and a piece of sheet metal and we'll make something so intriguing, useful, and beautiful you'll never take your eyes off.

© Melissa Ybarra - Iza Pearl

TMFMA: Did you do any art licensing prior to you exhibiting at Surtex 2011? No...Surtex was my first shot at breaking into the licensing arena.

TMFMA: What brought you to exhibit for the first time at Surtex 2011? Although I love my job at JCPenney, I was looking for something that provided a little more creativity and would allow me to create my own art. My artist aunt, Shelly Meridith-Delice, encouraged me to come out and walk the floor at Surtex with her. After walking the floor, I thought how incredibly exciting, rewarding, and wonderful it would be to exhibit.  So, nervous and questioning if my art was good enough to be at that level, I took the leap (after lots of encouragement from my family and a pep talk from my husband and sister!!).

© Melissa Ybarra - Iza Pearl
TMFMA: What were your expectations for this show? I really went to Surtex with the attitude that it's about the journey, and not the destination. For me, it was just about the experience. I wasn't expecting to necessarily be signing contracts and wheeling and dealing; more, I was hoping to network with manufacturers, make some solid contacts, learn about the art and licensing industry, and to meet and see so many artists that I'm a fan of and follow.

TMFMA: What did you do to prepare for the show e.g. did you do pre-show seminars, trade magazine reading, blog reading, other?  Walking the show floor was so immensely helpful. It really helped me to grasp what to expect. I also Googled Surtex constantly, hit the image tab, looked at the various booth designs, and read blog after blog of artists who exhibit and are currently in the licensing world. I listened to Tara Reed's webinar with Paul Brent, and really gained a lot of valuable information. I also found the pre-show webinars offered by Surtex and the staff to very, very help.

TMFMA: How would you describe this first experience with an art licensing show? Incredible, fun, and well worth it! I met so very many wonderful folks and learned so much. From the show, I have had two contracts come to fruition, one with a fabric company, the other with a stationary and gift company, which has been so very exciting.

TMFMA: What's the average time for prepare a full collection and how many did you create for the Surtex show 2011?  From what I've learned, a collection consists of 6-8 designs that hang well together. Depending on your style and technique (computer generated or hand) the time it takes to prepare one can vary tremendously. For me, I found that I would really crank out designs then hit a creative road block. So then, I would switch over to working on my booth design, website, or marketing materials to give me a bit of a break.  Total, I spent 5 months designing and building my website, business cards, press kit, logo, booth design, as well as the 51 individual designs, 8 collections I took to sell and license.


© Melissa Ybarra - Iza Pearl

TMFMA: Please give your analysis of the market based on your own experience and that of any other artists you met at the show.  Since it was my first year exhibiting, I really don't have anything to compare it to. I felt like there was a good energy there and both manufacturers and artists were excited.

TMFMA: At Surtex an artist can both sell and seek art license opportunities.  How do you decide what to sell and what to license? I'm still trying to figure this one out--I guess you sort of get a feel for which of your designs have a strong application across several industries and product lines. Those are the ones I've chosen to license.

TMFMA: In your view, what was of major interest to manufacturers this year? It's hard to tell. There truly is a market for every style of art – whether it's traditional, edgy or whismical. It's just a matter of making the right connection between company and artist.

TMFMA: What advice would you give other artists that are considering the art licensing field and that want to exhibit in a show like Surtex? If at all possible, walk the show floor the year before, utilize the many free resources out there on Surtex and Art Licensing (just simply Google both), take advantage of all the free marketing opportunities offered through Surtex, don't leave your booth design to the last minute because presentation is important....and finally, hold your nose and jump!!

Thanks so much for featuring me on your fabulous blog! I hope to see you at Surtex next year!
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