Itzel Islas is a graphic designer and illustrator. Originally from Tijuana, México, now living in San Diego. With an apparel design background of over 9 years, Itzel is currently focused on full-time freelancing and working on her personal brand YayItzel.
What projects are you currently working on? Currently in the middle of some freelance projects! Clients include GoFundMe, Pop Pie Co, and Little Dame Shop. Besides that, I’m planning my next merch drop for my personal brand YayItzel.
How has the pandemic affected or shifted your practice? I quit my full-time job! After working with them for over 8 years I decided it was time to move on and focus on my personal work and mental health. Luckily some new projects came to me during this time which is what I’ve been working on lately.
I know you used to do a lot of pop-ups, pre-COVID, have you managed to put that same energy from those events into different projects? My body has recently forced me to slow down a bit so I’m just taking my time with projects for the time being. The thing I’m currently excited about is planning the new merch drop. All of the new products will be available through my online store with some limited merch drop-offs at local stores like Little Dame shop and Simon Limón.
What has your journey been like as a creative/artist/small business owner? I grew up in Tijuana, México, and moved to San Diego when I was 18. After high school, I attended The Art Institute of California and got a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design. Shortly after I graduated, I got hired by a company doing T-shirt graphics. I worked at that company for about a year and then got hired by an even bigger company that focused on apparel design – primarily Disney/Star Wars/Marvel. I worked with them for over 8 years and (3 days ago!) decided it was time for me to move on. Now I’m going to focus on my freelance clients and my personal brand, and see where I go from there!
Do you have any tips for up-and-coming, or rising artists/creatives? Learn to be patient because things take time. It’s taken me almost a full decade to get to where I’m at now. Allow yourself to start and don’t be scared to try a lot of different things. Half of it might end up in the trash at first and that’s totally fine! Just don’t stop learning and keep showing up. Also, don’t forget to be yourself (yes, as cheesy as it sounds). At the end of the day, people want to make real connections.
Find Itzel on Instagram: @YayItzel