2016 UV Holiday Campaign by Misha Zadeh Graham

Misha Zadeh for University Village. On property promotional signage featuring vibrant watercolor illustrations.

Misha Zadeh for University Village. On property promotional signage featuring vibrant watercolor illustrations.

I was thrilled to work with the team at University Village shopping center on their holiday marketing campaign for the second year in a row. This year, we went with gestural watercolor illustrations in a palette of sapphire blue, lush pinky red, warm orange and inky black — which stood out against a crisp, white background. I did some hand lettering, and of course there was a fair share of quirky creatures.

It is a joy to work with a team so receptive to my work, and to promote a place where I've spent a great deal of time over the years. I have particularly nostalgic memories of days spent roaming the peaceful outdoor spaces with my little ones in a stroller — window shopping, enjoying snacks, and watching them climb on the outdoor play structure before the time they reached the age limit. It's my go-to place for creative stimulation — from the stunning, year-round landscaping on the property to the wonderfully curated shelves and walls of Anthropologie, Ravenna Gardens, Fireworks, and the Land of Nod. A visit is not complete without a tasty lunch from Pasta & Co, and of course a macchiato with chocolate covered orange confit from Fran's. Side note, I'd love to do some illustrations for Fran's!

Being a Seattle native, I've seen UV grow and change and become the hub of the neighborhood in the shadow of the University of Washington (my alma mater). I look forward to seeing what the future holds for UV.

Beyond Design: 6x6x3 Art Opening by Misha Zadeh Graham

New work by Julie Jacobson, Amy Hevron and Misha Zadeh debuting at ZINC Art + Object November 17, 2016.

New work by Julie Jacobson, Amy Hevron and Misha Zadeh debuting at ZINC Art + Object November 17, 2016.

About a million years ago, Julie Jacobson, Amy Hevron and I worked as graphic designers at a lovely Seattle firm by the name of Werkhaus. Sadly, Werkhaus is no longer around, but I feel very fortunate for the professional opportunities and the personal friendships that I developed while there. Amy and Julie are now working in mixed media painting and I am a huge fan of both of them. I proudly own one of Amy's first original paintings on wood, Darius the Monkey!

Anyway, the three of us were delighted to be invited to participate in a group show by the fabulously talented dynamo Laura Zeck at her Edmonds-based gallery and shop, ZINC Art + Object. We have all previously participated in solo shows at ZINC, but this group effort has been very special. Our only limitation was to create the work on 6" x 6" panels. I'm excited to view all 36 pieces hung together and hope to see some of my local friends and fans at the opening reception this Thursday night, from 5-8pm. The show will be up through December 12, for those who miss the opening. Let me know if you see a piece you want, but can't get to Edmonds. Some have already been reserved.

Entomology series by Misha Zadeh. 12 original 6"x6" acrylic ink paintings with gold detailing on watercolor paper, mounted on 1.5" wood panels. Each fantastical insect is paired with a positive trait like 'compassion', 'integrity', 'wit','humility'.

Entomology series by Misha Zadeh. 12 original 6"x6" acrylic ink paintings with gold detailing on watercolor paper, mounted on 1.5" wood panels. Each fantastical insect is paired with a positive trait like 'compassion', 'integrity', 'wit','humility'.

Here are a few of the images. All will be added to my licensing portfolio after the show. Contact me to see more.



The future is yours by Misha Zadeh Graham

Vote 2016 / Misha Zadeh

Vote 2016 / Misha Zadeh

I created this artwork on election day, full of optimism, and frankly a fair bit of confidence that my candidate would win. What an exhausting several few months we've been through. I experienced more emotions during election week than I have since about 2000. After a few days to process and reflect, I land at this: we are extremely fortunate to be living in a country of free and fair elections. Post election, I am realizing that the second sentence in my quote is the more important one. It is time to work for the issues and outcomes that matter to you. This was a call to action to engage in the democratic process. I have so many more feelings about this, but this is an art blog, not a political one. Choose love. Work hard. Try to be compassionate to those who don't look or think like you. Be kind. Make art.

West Elm Seattle by Misha Zadeh Graham

Exciting news: I'm West Elm Seattle's Artist of the month for October.  West Elm is a national home furnishings store and part of the Pottery Barn family. Kind of like the more modern, edgier little sister. I've been a huge fan since they opened their South Lake Union location a few years ago (2201 Westlake Ave). In addition to their own gorgeous furniture and housewares, each West Elm store carries a selection of goods made by local vendors. They also offer local artisans the opportunity to host weekend Pop-Up shops within their space –I'm doing one on December 10th, please save the date!) and they have a dedicated wall where one local artist shows their art for the whole month. Each employee I've interacted with has been fantastic, too. You must go and check out their beautiful wares — and living plant wall — and my art, of course.

My husband Ben and I hung my show (12 framed, one of a kind, cut-paper artworks) on Saturday and by Monday five pieces had already sold, so I was back today replenishing with new pieces. As mentioned, the show will hang through the end of October, so please stop by if you are in the neighborhood. Looks like there might be new pieces added weekly! The subject matter is quirky animals. Mostly owls but a few other surprises thrown in, too. All made from my own etchings and monoprints, with additional hand-drawn embellishments layered on top. Pops of vibrant color and my typical modern touch. Also, each animal has a back story and you get to read all about it once you've bought the piece. If you see something you like but can not make it down to the shop, let me know and we can arrange an online sale. I am happy to ship the matted pieces, unframed.

Buyers who email me after their purchase will receive a thank you gift of holiday letterpress cards.

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Ten years of the Seattle Iranian Festival by Misha Zadeh Graham

In 2006, IACA founder Ali Ghambari worked with the fabulous staff of Seattle Center to add the Iranian Festival to their growing list of annual cultural celebrations under the Festál umbrella. I had just had my second baby and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw posters about the event around town. Growing up, the Persian community in the greater Seattle area was quite small, so to think we would now have our very own festival was quite amazing. My second thought was, who puts this on — and why am I not involved?! My family and I went to the festival, which was fun and humble and held in one of the smaller venues at Seattle Center. By the time the second festival had come and gone, I decided that professional level design work would help elevate the festival and not only entice a larger audience to the event, but would attract higher level performers and guests. I approached the IACA with my proposal, and soon found myself as the art director for the festival — not only creating the graphic look and feel of each year's festival — but coming up with the theme the majority of the time.

Design-wise, I've wanted to make each year unique in terms of theme/iconography and color palette. I have selected visuals that are universal or relatable, while still being 'Iranian'. I have managed to throw in second reads and hidden meanings some of the time. Like the rest of my work, the vibe is modern and dramatic with a bold use of color. This helps the artwork stand out in a sea of busy cafe posters clamoring for your attention. You can look through an album of posters with explanations about the meanings on my Facebook Page. Which is your favorite, and why?

By my second year, I introduced a literary component to the festival, and brought on Elliott Bay Book Company to have a prime booth and offer titles by Iranian and Iranian American authors. I also began a tradition of hosting a featured writer each year. My first was Jasmin Darznik. I went on to bring in Anita Amirrezvani, Louisa Shafia, Porochista Khakpour, Hamid Rahmanian and Najmieh Batmanglij. Hosting these talented memoirists / novelists / cookbook writers / artists has truly been a highlight of my life.

This year the festival celebrated it's tenth year. I heard numerous comments about it being the best one yet in terms of the level of performers and guests, food, as well as attendance. In addition to Najmieh Batmanglij, cookbook author and the guru of Iranian cooking who has appeared on the Martha Stewart show AND recently put together a Norooz dinner at the White House (!!), I was honored to help bring in renowned architect Hossein Amanat to speak about his stunning Azadi monument complex, the subject of this year's poster, which has become a symbol of modern Tehran, and which he designed as a young university graduate back in 1966. He is a living legend, and a truly kind and humble man. What a treat to hear him discuss the conceptual goals behind the piece — which undoubtedly led him to win the nationwide competition to design the monument at such a young age.

Learn more about this (and previous years') festivals on the IACA page.

My Video Debut by Misha Zadeh Graham


Ever wondered what SURTEX is all about? According to show organizers, it is "The premiere event for sourcing original art & design—where artists, art agents, licensing agencies and licensors connect with manufacturers and retailers to create the next best-selling products in every category imaginable."

Here's a great little wrap video about the 2016 show. Misha Zadeh Illustration & Design is very excited to have been featured among many other fabulous exhibitors. Thanks to Karen LeBlanc of The Design Tourist for choosing to interview us. Overall, a great experience launching my illustration and surface pattern work. If you're an art buyer, please email me for a link to my full licensing portfolio. Join my mailing list to get my latest art and news.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It... by Misha Zadeh Graham

A little illustration about my experience at SURTEX in Manhattan in May. A little rain, a little luck, and a whole lot of passion and heart in NYC.

A little illustration about my experience at SURTEX in Manhattan in May. A little rain, a little luck, and a whole lot of passion and heart in NYC.

You might want to sit down for this one. I *finally* launched my first eNewsletter. For some reason, I agonized about it far too long. This first one tells you a little about my back story. Future ones will be more brief and will focus on new work.  I hope to send one out every 3 to 6 weeks to keep you updated on the latest and greatest here at Misha Zadeh Illustration & Design.

Subscribe to my mailing list to make sure you get the next one in your inbox!

Surtex 2016 a big success! by Misha Zadeh Graham

What a whirlwind! After months of preparation and weeks of working into the wee hours, my friend and project manager Gina and I descended upon the magic that is New York City to exhibit at SURTEX 2016. Great luck and a positive energy seemed to be with us the entire time, and I reflect upon that with utmost gratitude. The flight was great, everything for our booth traveled – and arrived – with us, our booth location was visible and surrounded by terrific neighbors, and setup took all of 4 hours!

The show ran Sunday May 15th through Tuesday May 17th, with setup happening the 13th and 14th. Thanks to careful planning — and some pre-show coaching by my fabulous new Seattle friend and SURTEX veteran Diane Kappa — booth setup was a snap. Gina, Mia and I finished in record time and got to spend the remainder of Saturday afternoon and evening enjoying the city. Sidenote: The Highline is my special happy place. More related sidenote: Alphagraphics Seattle did a stellar job printing my banners, and I highly recommend them.

On Sunday, we walked into the Javits Center with bright eyes and high hopes, opened up for business…and were very warmly received! Visitors to our booth were very complimentary and mentioned that its design stood out and clearly conveyed my voice. After weeks of agonizing and redesigning my panels, I went with my gut instinct to be cohesive and simple. I was nervous about only showing a single design on 6 of my 9 panels, but as it turns out, that was one of the main things that helped the booth stand out. My booth design was a reflection of my overall aesthetic: clean and sophisticated with a bold use of color. I think the most successful booths were not necessarily the ones with closely aligned aesthetics to mine, but ones that clearly showed 'the brand' of the exhibiting artist(s) — whatever that may be. I had two helpers with me each day. My booth team was a dream, with many thanks owed to my Seattle-based friends Gina Alvino and Claudia Haon, and my NY-area peeps Mia Baudry and Shiva Sarram! Each brought her own gifts, talents, and support to booth 527.

In terms of product categories of buyers who came into my booth, there were a lot of stationery people, a good number of housewares (both hard and soft goods), some bedding, some decor. Sadly, there were no representatives from the fabric or wall coverings industries. And, judging by comments of people wanting to dress their walls or themselves with some of my patterns, I will definitely be looking for clients in those fields on my own!

Monday was the busiest day of the show, but we saw steady traffic throughout, with one key art director I was hoping to meet running in at 3:59 on Tuesday. Literally. 3:59! (Ok, It may even have been 4:02. The show officially closed at 4:00 pm and some of my neighbors had nearly finished dismantling their booths).

One surprising and interesting experience was being selected to be interviewed at my booth by Karen LeBlanc of The Design Tourist for an upcoming segment she is preparing on SURTEX. I'll keep you updated once the clip is ready! Or maybe I won't. I hate watching myself on film!

Conclusion: SURTEX 2016 was an absolutely terrific experience. I’m grateful for all the follow-ups I have to do and am hoping the good luck continues through to the deal signing and production phases. Also, in addition to making many new client contacts, I got to meet some wonderfully talented new artist and designer friends. There is a camaraderie in the surface pattern community that I haven't quite seen anywhere else. I'm so glad to be a part of this world! A special shoutout to Nicole Tamarin, another SURTEX veteran – and all around great person – for sharing her expertise via the SURTEX pre-show webinars, and for being so lovely in person!

Thanks for reading. Were you there? Please leave comments! Have any questions you don’t want to leave in the comments? Email me and I’ll try to answer if I have time.

My (totally biased) tips for a successful show at SURTEX:

  1. Save up your money, do a regular sized booth, spring for some advertising (pre-show mailers, directory ads, ads in other trade publications...). Also, prepare some good takeaways (for instance, I had a tri-fold promo in addition to business cards and next year I think I'll do tote bags). SURTEX is a big investment. It's expensive. You don't have to do the show to make it in surface design. But if you go, make it count. If you don't want the financial or emotional responsibility of doing it alone, you could also exhibit as part of a carefully curated collective. Finch & Foxglove was a wonderful example of this. They pooled resources and each member of the collective brought their strengths to the table.
  2. Join the various surface design Facebook groups months before the show so you can start building up your tribe of fellow illustrators and surface pattern people. I’ve found them to be generous folks that are free with sharing their insights. These include Heart 2 Art Talk, Surtex Before and After the ShowAdvice 4 Artists hosted by Jennifer Nelson (there is a waiting list - you must be vetted).
  3. Take a trade show prep course. If you've never done an art business related trade show, you might want to take an e-course such as Tradeshow & Tell by Khristian A. Howell. Although I had exhibited several times before at the National Stationery Show, there are some differences – SURTEX is much less intimidating, in my opinion – and Khristian offered some helpful tips and timelines. There is also an associated Facebook group that you will gain entry to upon enrolling in the course. You will learn lots from the members of these groups! For those of you doing the Stationery Show, I've heard great things about Katie Hunt's Tradeshow Bootcamp.
  4. Don't do it alone. I feel strongly about this. Having a team presents a more welcoming atmosphere in your booth and gives you a chance to take breaks and refresh. If you must head to SURTEX on your own, join the groups listed above and start soliciting helpers early on. Lots of artists will get themselves to NY on their own dime to work at your booth in exchange for a show pass (a $495 value!) and the opportunity to learn by helping you exhibit. I would have LOVED to do this last year. I paid the fee and walked alone because I was not connected yet.
  5. Have an awesome portfolio system. I created Blurb books and was extremely happy with the results. I chose the pro matte paper, and the quality is superb. The turnaround time is also pretty fast if you are west coast based. I created my own layout in InDesign (which was a TON of work) but I think it looked very professional and was worth every penny and hour.
  6. Coordinate with your booth. Dress as if you are part of the whole well-designed booth plan. You don't have to create outfits made of your own custom fabrics (though that doesn't hurt), but at least wear complementary colors and/or neutrals. This goes for your booth helpers. We did this, it was seamless, and made for great photos. It was fun to see how many booth visitors coincidentally matched the booth, too.
  7. Create a separate grouping of art for outright sale. I know lots of people said this to me but I wasn’t ready for it. Having an offering of prints you want to sell outright will make you feel like you've recouped some costs right away. Many buyers only buy outright, which is a tad annoying as SURTEX is primarily a licensing show, but, it seems to be a trend. When creating this art, avoid characters or artwork that is super precious to you and/or that has lots of coordinates.
  8. Smile! Be yourself — but push yourself to be outgoing if you are not. SURTEX is a highly social event. If you are an introverted person, this is even more reason to bring someone with you who is not. You are 'on' for three days straight. I found this exhilarating. Would you?