The Art of Craft

Cameron Willis looks at the creative labelling behind our favourite craft beers and, just like he religiously does with the beer inside the bottle, he asks: what exactly goes into the designs on the outside?

Bringing with them a world of flavours, styles and brave ideas, craft drinks have revolutionised the way that we look at beer, but it’s not just how they taste that has caught the eye of us beery types.

ye of us beery types. A huge part of the industry is the in-depth artistic design that goes into the wide range of craft beers available the world over. If the beer gives craft its voice, the art gives it the podium.

That image on the outside the bottle has always been synonymous with what’s inside, with the unconventional and progressive approach taken by these crafty designers, often moving in tandem with the approach of the brewers.

In celebration, and because being craft beer fans we couldn’t wait to find out ourselves, we spoke to some of the absolute masters of creative craft design culture about what goes in to some of the most unique designs in drinks. From Colorado to Copenhagen, craft beer label design is kind of a big deal.

OMNIPOLLO (KARL GRANDIN)

Dreamy, abstract, enthralling. Sweden’s Omnipollo don’t only brew some of the best Scandi beers around, but under the stewardship of Karl Grandin they have some of the most unique beer bottles on the market. Their trendy, luminescent edge make them look like something all the cool kids would have on a t-shirt.

“The Omnipollo images are explorations of the unconscious, dreams, daydreams, memories, visions,” explains Karl. “Instead of trying to create art that would somehow describe or portray the style or taste of a beer, I look for what’s going on in the Omnipollo cosmos and try to capture something less obvious. ”

Although he admits there is method in the madness, Karl encourarges you to make your own mind up on the works.

CRAZY MOUNTAIN (MOXIE SOZO)

Colorado craftmakers Crazy Mountain combine hand-sketched drawings with an endearingly rustic Rocky Mountains feel.

Crazy rep Greg Neale explains; “Each beer is represented by a Crazy Creature who resides on the mountain. Each has a role in the production of our beers and all of our creatures are comprised of three animals native to the state of Colorado (for example an owl, a mule deer and a bobcat). “ Greg continues to say that the packaging, in taking inspiration from Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, is a reimagining of a traditional style – just like their beers. In his own words: “We’d like the drinker to understand after looking at our cans and bottles and then trying the beer, that life is better with a touch of crazy.”

TO ØL (KASPER LEDET)

To Øl don’t want bottles overloaded with tasting notes, allowing their bottles to become a canvas for designs ranging from the bright and colourful to the subtly political. They look like they should be hanging inside the ARKEN Museum for Modern Kunst in Copenhagen. We spoke to their charismatic designer Kasper Ledet.

“I think the design of the can or bottle should be a part of the overall experience of drinking a beer,” explains Kasper.

“I don’t subscribe to the conservative idea of dividing form and content. Just think about going to a restaurant and getting served a dish which looks horrible but taste great. The look of the dish will definitely influence your overall perception of the meal and I think the same is true for a beer.”

LONDON BEER FACTORY (DEERSKINN)

The tagline of the London Beer Factory is “Beer with Character”, an apt motto when you consider that the can designs all contain a character unique to the beer that’s inside. Designer Mike Foster (otherwise known as Deerskinn) plays on old London stereotypes to hand draw and then bring a kind of steampunk vision of London’s early heyday to life on the cans.

London Beer Factory co-founder Sim Cotton worked closely with Mike to get the perfect artwork for he and his brother Ed’s vision. “We generally try to draw on something to do with the beer, but it’s about bringing out the character in the beer,” he explains. “We want something that stands out. We always wanted it to be a very creative, artistic piece of work, and wanted it to be thought -provoking to drinkers”.

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