Pedro Pérez exhibit explores the creative process of an advertiser.
It’s not every day you see an anti-nausea medication on display in an art gallery.
However, its creator wouldn’t be bothered by passersby questioning the piece’s artistic validity. Pedro Pérez is the designer of the packaging for the bottle of Children’s Emetrol currently on display in the Patricia Thompson Gallery until Oct. 21. He believes if he has started a conversation about the definition of art, he has succeeded.
“Art, to people, is different,” he says. “I would argue with you that a landscaper is an artist. I would argue that an architect is an artist. I would even argue with you that a mechanic, to a certain extent, is an artist. It’s what we do and how we define what we do.”
The bottle is part of the Pedro Pérez exhibit showcasing work he has produced from his early college years until now. The collection includes everything from industrial and graphic design to web development and photography.
Pérez graduated from Ringling College of Art and Design in 1996 with a degree in graphic art, and he taught global brand strategies at the school this spring.
After graduation, he became interested in the role of design in modern advertising and marketing. In July 2004, he started his own agency, Nuevo Advertising Group, with his wife, Roseanne Avella-Pérez.
The public’s exposure to advertisements is typically limited to billboards, print publications and the various digital screens that define the 21st century. Tim Jaeger, the college’s community engagement manager, says this exhibition defies that.
Asked why this exhibit was deemed “art,” Jaeger says there’s a multitude of pieces that could go in a gallery if they meet the school’s mission, and these fit the bill.
“What we want to do is tell a story,” he says. “So this is a relevant story about an idea that exists, basically in the mind of some people, and then it’s translated through a creative. It’s a great demonstration of the creative process.”
Pérez says he wanted to showcase the breadth of his work, and he realizes visitors might interpret his work in many different ways because of its atypical nature. But that’s exactly what he loves about it.
“This touches on a lot of different things,” he says. “It gives you a point to pause for discussion. It stimulates ideas, and that, I like.”
As co-founder and vice president of sales and marketing at Nuevo, Pérez plays many roles. He’s an artist, a businessman, a strategist and an analyst. He leads focus groups and uses his roughly 3,000-person Facebook and LinkedIn following to gather product insight. He’s a graphic designer by trade as well as a self-taught advertiser who sets himself apart by focusing on both functionality and depth of purpose.
Pérez says that he and his wife prefer to work with four or five clients who understand and appreciate the value of their business model. They aren’t interested in becoming a big agency with a multitude of small projects or simply putting a new design on an old product and “putting it on a shelf.”
“I think that’s a waste of time — a waste of money,” he says. “There has to be meaning. Maybe I’m a little too deep for what I do, but I think that’s the right thing to do, ethically.”
"This touches on a lot of different things. It gives you a point to pause for discussion. It stimulates ideas, and that, I like.”
Rather than making design decisions based on what he finds personally appealing, Pérez prefers to use focus groups and other research methods to ensure he appeals to his clients’ audience.
Nuevo is also the only Hispanic-based advertising agency in the greater Sarasota/Manatee county area. This is exemplified in the exhibit through a box of Micatin, a foot cream that the agency was asked to modernize and invite the hispanic community to purchase. To do this, the agency added color to the package design and Spanish to the inside label.
“It’s the same product, it’s just marketed and branded differently, which adds value to the idea that it’s all about the packaging,” says Pérez. “It’s all about the creative.”
Pérez says he was glad for the opportunity to show his alma mater what he’s accomplished since graduating. He says exhibits like this show students and their families what they’ll be capable of producing after graduation.
Jaeger says the exhibit shows just how much goes into the creative process and how many different applications the process can have.
“It’s not just art,” he says of the work. “It’s art and design and function, among other things. It’s many things, because it’s used not just as a product to help children who are nauseated. It has a purpose, like art does.”
As for what Pérez wants viewers to garner from the exhibit, the message applies to both artists and non-artists alike.
“Life is long, and it’s in the exploration of art that you find who you are,” he says. “No one at 21 should know what they are. They should have a good idea, but life changes, and it’s OK. I want people to be encouraged to go do new things.”