Monday, July 9, 2012

A Repeated Success - Surtex 2012, by Licensing Artist Melissa Ybarra of Iza Pearl

I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July! I saw some really cool patterns in mags and blogs, and I picked this one that won a recent contest (stars and stripes) on Spoonflower. I like the simple but fun pattern of stars over chevrons. Congrats to the winner, Katrina Brenco!

To further celebrate more colorful and fun patterns I thought you might like to see these awesome designs by Melissa Ybarra, of Iza Pearl.

Melissa exhibited at Surtex for the second year – her booth was one of the best looking spots on the floor and her designs stood out from the rest of the crowd; and to top it all, she and her husband Matthew were very friendly and fun to talk to! So I asked Melissa if she could give us an update on how her art licensing business is going and for us newbies it's great to know we are not alone in this adventure!

The Moon from My Attic: Last year you made a splashing debut at Surtex as Iza Pearl. This year you repeated the success at the show, with a beautifully set up booth and artwork. Can you give us an update on how the licensing business is going with you after the first year? I've had lots of exciting changes since last year! After last year's show, I went back to work full-time (after being part-time) in the marketing department at a great retail company, but found that I was spread way, way to thin and not able to give 110% to either job. With Surtex 2012 knocking at my door this year, I finally went full-time out on my own in March. So, with a late start on Surtex prep, I (with the great help of my husband!) hit the ground running, more like sprinting and gasping for air to pull everything together for the show in May.

Iza Pearl's Surtex 2011 booth
Iza Pearl's Surtex 2012 Booth

Last year, I was blessed with two great contracts from the show – one with a fabric manufacturer and the other with a stationary and purse accessories company. It has been a complete joy and honor to work with these great companies this past year. It has been so very exciting to see my ideas, doodles, and sketches evolve into beautiful and tangible products that are actually out in the marketplace. I'm truly humbled by the fact that people like the products sporting my artwork well enough to spend their hard earned money on them when there are so very many fantastic products adorning the shelves out there.

© Melissa Ybarra 
Recently, one of the stationary companies I'm licensed with launched a bunch of new products with my artwork, including some new artwork created especially for them to use on their "initial" notepads and notecards. My second fabric collection will be out this Fall. I'm so very excited for this collection...and can't wait to see all the fabulous craft projects people will create with it! 

This year's show was a great success! I have two new contracts with fantastic companies that I am absolutely over the moon about! One is designing aprons, tea towels, rugs and pillows, and the other is for gift bags and wrap. So exciting! Yay!

Also, I've had several companies request that I submit artwork to them for presentations to some incredible retailers. I'm still waiting to hear back from them as their presentations are just now getting underway. So, in the mean time, I'm keeping my fingers, toes, and eyes crossed in anticipation!! 

© Melissa Ybarra
TMFMA: What did you mostly learned in the past year of doing licensing after your first Surtex show? Last year was my first year exhibiting at Surtex and getting into art licensing. I've learned so very much:

Lesson #1: Patience, patience, patience darling, is a virtue. A lot of art licensing is submitting and waiting and waiting and waiting, and then finally you get that sparkling phone call or email that is so very exciting. It's actually a bit of an addiction. 

Lesson #2: Don't get discouraged if you don't hear back from a company. It doesn't necessarily mean that they don't like your art, or you're not a good fit for their product, it just might not be what they are looking for at the moment. Timing is everything. You still might hear something from them down the road – sometimes, it might even be a year later, and if you never hear from them, it's okay. There are lots and lots of great companies out there. Your perseverance will pay off. 

Lesson #3: Have a little fun!! This doesn't mean to throw all professionalism out the window, but nobody wants to work with a boring and blah person. So when communicating and submitting artwork to potential clients let your dazzling personality and creativity shine...it helps them put a person and a brand behind that beautiful art of yours. So make friends with your clients, it's just more fun for everyone that way. 

© Melissa Ybarra
TMFMA: Any tips you would like to give to new artists who are thinking to start in licensing or to exhibit at Surtex next year? The first step is the hardest - you truly just have to hold your nose and jump. For me, Surtex was the logical first step, although it's not necessarily everyone's. Many people have great success researching and blind submitting their artwork to companies that they are interested in partnering with.

I walked the floor of Surtex the year before I exhibited, and researched 1.1 million (okay, maybe not quite that many) licensing artists and companies online and pretty much visited the Surtex website daily that next year learning as much as I could. There are also several great blogs on the art licensing industry (obviously if you're reading this, you've already found one of the best!)*. I've also found that the companies that I've worked with have been so great in teaching me the ways of art licensing. So, don't be intimidated...every artist that is licensed has had to have a "first" contract at some point. You learn as you go, and believe me, I'm still learning. 

Find Melissa at: 

* (editor's note) - Thanks Melissa!
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