We got chatting with Victor Mares, owner and curator of Ursa Major Supply! If you haven't seen his fire creations yet, then boiiiii where have you been hiding? We have a small selection of his dope pins up on our curated section now! Make sure to go check them out when you're done here.
Do you have an art education background?
I graduated from Modesto Junior College in California with an Associates degree in Computer Graphics. A fun tidbit about that is that George Lucas also attended this junior college before going to the University of Southern California. However, I would like to note that most of my skills I apply to my work today were learned via online tutorials and Youtube, there’s tons of free resources out there for just about anything!
What would you say is your main practice?
My main practice is digital art and illustration. I handle most of the design work for all of my releases so a lot of my time is spent designing enamel pins, patches and occasionally some clothing.
So what led you into making pins?
I believe I started getting into pins around the end of 2016. Artists have always predominantly occupied my Instagram feed, so naturally I started seeing artists release pins here and there. The very first pin that I ever bought was this Night Wolf pin from Paul Kreizenbeck. Very quickly I started finding more and more artists making pins which made me think it could be something I can get into. I had been designing stickers and art prints for a few years before the pin craze, so I started asking around and eventually came across a company that works with artists and pin manufacturers directly and they helped me with colour options and sizing. At the time I decided to play it safe and run a Kickstarter for two different original designs I made. The Kickstarter turned out to be a huge hit and I over reached my goal by roughly $2,700 more dollars than what I was asking! That’s basically where it all started and I’ve still been consistently designing and releasing new items in my shop 3 years later.
What pin design are you most proud of?
One of my favourite pin designs I have made has to be my pin based on Sméagol. I had an idea to make a pin based off of some of the scenes from the Lord of the Rings where Sméagol would sneak around behind rocks. I was so happy that the pin was so well received!
Any advice for anyone that is thinking of starting their own independent brand / pin designs?
My advice for anyone interested in starting a pin brand would be to bring something new to the table. There are lots of pin makers that blend together for me because there is a lack of identity in their work. I would highly recommend approaching pin design with a unique art style, or if you want to make some pop culture pins, I would recommend making designs based on things that you haven’t already seen before.
What is your favourite pin design at the moment?
Of course it’s really hard to pin it down to just one, I’m sure I’d have a different answer on a different day, but for now I will give you a favourite pop culture pin and a favourite original pin. My favourite pop culture pin is this ET inspired pin from Negamidas. Not only is ET one of my favourite films, but this pin is also just beautiful! My favourite original pin is another from Paul Kreizenbeck, it’s this portal pin. I just love the screen printed details inside the frame.
Do you have any favourite designers?
This is another hard question to answer, so I will just stick to pin designers/shops for now. I work with a lot of my favourite designers that also have their own shops, so I will try to just name some that I have not worked with and some that really influenced my work. Some of my favourites include Arcadedaze, PSA Press, Nightcake Press, Nacho Scratcho and Laserbrain Patch Co. to name a few! Obviously a lot of movie and pop culture designers since that is what I make the most of.
What inspires your designs, do you have a creative process you go through?
My biggest inspiration for most of my designs hands down are movies. I tend to focus on pins based on creatures, props and characters from movies. I emphasise in films that utilise a lot of practical effects since that is something that really appeals to me. Another inspiration is traditional flash tattoo design. A lot of my early work really was designed with the principles of traditional tattoo design in mind.
As far as my creative process goes, it usually goes like this:
I get an idea in my head for a pin or product, I then jot it down in my notes app on my phone. Then I pull up a blank canvas on Photoshop or a sticky note and pull up a bunch of references and sketch up my idea. Finally I pull up my sketch into Illustrator and trace my sketch with the pen tool. Then what I usually do is show off the design to some of my designer friends and ask for input, then I finalise and send off to get produced. Sometimes I will sit on designs for months before I decide to get them made, and very rarely I will go from sketch to final design to production within the same week!
Do you have favourite themes you like to focus on?
I like to look at my shop as having three different focuses. We have the movie inspired pins as mentioned before, some video game inspired pins and also some original pins that usually have that traditional tattoo flair. The main focus is definitely the movie inspired pins and I feel that is what most people follow my shop for.
How did you create the one ring pin?
What changes did you have to make to your normal process of design?
The design process for 3D pins is much different than my regular design process. I have designed a few 3D video game inspired pins and got familiar with the process. The tricky part for me was just figuring out how to convey which parts of the design will be raised.
Overall the process for this one was very simple, but it just took some trial and error. I took a half circle shape and applied a 3D revolve tool on it in Illustrator and adjusted some of the settings until it looked right to me. Of course I also needed the writing on the ring to glow, so I just wrapped the text around the shape, so not the most exciting design process, but I am so happy with how this pin came out. I wanted it to be sort of like an optical illusion in that on first glance it just looks like the One Ring, but when you look closer you will realise it is actually a pin. It was fun reading the comments for this one when I first revealed it!
Any big plans for the future?
Well, originally my plans for this year were to do tons of conventions around the country to keep promoting my shop and meet new people, but of course the pandemic happened.
So my plans for the future aren’t too different from what I have already been doing. I will continue working on pins and products based on things I love and will keep working with other artists!
I would really like to eventually get proper licensing for the products I have been making, or at least a blessing from some of the creators of the properties I base my designs off of! I have gotten a couple of retweets and comments from actors and folks involved with some of the work I have made products based on, so that’s a start!
Any cool collaborations lined up that we should watch out for?
One of my favourite collaborations I have worked on is the Magical Silhouette series we made with Evergood Merch. We designed a side profile Silhouette of a different Harry Potter character with a scene inside from each of the books. We concluded the first series last year, but we have gotten so many requests for other characters that we have decided to kickstart Series Two! So we have seven more pins in the works for this series, so keep a lookout for these!
We definitely can't wait to see them!! We love everything Victor creates and can't wait to see what he brings with 2021, if you have been inspired and would like to start making enamel pins, don't hesitate to get in touch, we can help you get the ball rolling!