Stan Chow is an artist and illustrator, known for his unique illustration style and work with clients such as The White Stripes, WWE and McDonald’s. He is also the man behind the artwork you find on First Chop’s beer cans, including Flavourly exclusives USA, WIN and NZL.
First Chop founder Rik chats with Stan for Flavourly Magazine…
You’re better known for your work as an illustrator Stan, so how did you end up designing beer labels?
Yes, I studied illustration but when I left art school, however, it was easier finding little commissions designing flyers and posters for clubs and bars than it was finding illustration work. So, essentially, I cut my cloth designing. Illustration and graphic design basically have the same core principles in terms of communication, so really the two things go hand in hand. You’ll have designers who can illustrate and you’ll have illustrators who can design.
Anyway, how I ended up designing for First Chop; Rik and I already had plenty of mutual friends before we hooked up. My mate Lee, who worked for Rik at the time, suggested that I could do the design. Also, around then, our daughters went to the same primary school, so there’d be conversations on the school playground where we initially shared our thoughts and ideas.
You’re a big football fan aren’t you? We love your Stan Chow FC stuff. Do you ever get any feedback from the players you’ve drawn?
Every now and again I’d get a bit of feedback. It was Edgar Davids who started the ball rolling. He asked me to do an illustration of him, which he used for his Twitter profile pic. It came back to me that Gareth Bale didn’t like the portrait I did of him; the ears were rather large, I have to admit. I did one of Park Ji Sung, Patrice Evra saw it and moaned why there wasn’t one of him. By the time I got round wanting to do an Evra, he’d left to join Juventus. Juan Mata liked his portrait. He used it for his for Twitter and Instagram too. We’ve met a couple of times and he’s been very gracious. Fergie liked his so much he invited me to watch a game and have dinner with him.
One of our favourite pieces of your work is the Donald trump balloon you did for the New York Times. How did that come about?
I’m probably better known for my illustrations in New York than I am over here to be honest. I’ve had regular work in the New Yorker magazine for the best part of the last decade. For a while, pretty much all my work came from the USA. I’ll have work in the Boston Globe, Washington Post, Bay Area News, Variety, Time, GQ, etc, so it was nice to get a call eventually from the New York Times, especially an assignment for the cover. It’s pretty prestigious getting a cover job for any magazine over in the USA, especially the topical newsworthy magazines; they’ll put you on a pedestal for month or so.
Anyway, this was before Trump became president. The call came about two o’clock in the morning, the art director from NYT told me the brief and said we’ve got 48 hours. So, in that time, I illustrated about 20 versions of Trump; they were all printed onto a foil helium balloon and photographed by Jamie Chung. They picked the best photo for the cover. I was pleased that the cover won a few awards for art direction too, however, it also became a bit of curse for me as work in the USA literally dried up overnight. Also, a month later after it appeared on the magazine, Trump won the election. The best thing I got out of it was that Trump slated the image in the Washington Post the day after it was published.
What’s your favourite First Chop beer?
It’s probably JAM, which is weird, because I used to hate mangoes, but since drinking this my opinion on mangoes has changed.
You’ve been known to man the ones and twos and spin a few tunes from time to time – how about a beer drinking top ten?
Kashmir – Led Zeppelin
Robot Rock – Daft Punk
Sabotage – Beastie Boys
Eclipse – Los Dug Dug’s
Amor – Secos e Molhados
You Goin’ Miss Your Candy Man – Terry Callier
Organ Donor – DJ Shadow
To Love Somebody – Nina Simone
Scratch Yer Head (Square Pusher Mix) – DJ Food
Too Drunk to F**k – Dead Kennedys
If you are looking for the perfect playlist to listen to, whilst drinking your First Chop box, check this one out!
Do you have a favorite portrait you’ve created?
Nina Simone, mainly because it was eventually used on a reissued album by her 10 years after I illustrated it.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a designer?
Working in a Chinese takeaway.
What’s your favourite food? (+ alongside a First Chop tipple!)
Special Fried Rice and Curry Sauce, pairs perfectly with POP.
Interview by Rik Garner, founder of First Chop. Artwork by Stan Chow.