July 7, 2010

More Art of the Beer Can

So, I've done one post about how cans could change beer art. And we've established that, my respect for Jeff Alworth's blogging notwithstanding, I fundamentally disagree with the school of thought that states cans are "not an attractive package." On the contrary, I think the panoramic capabilities of can art are potentially more interesting than bottle labels. And, with more than 100 breweries canning, we'll probably see more dynamic art as things go on. Let's look at a few more pieces.

Let's start with Manhattan, Kansas' Tallgrass Brewing Company, whose owner, Jeff Gill, is a zealot enough to issue a "canifesto."
I consider this something like a baseline for can art. They observe the most important rule, which is to not treat it like a bottle. As you can see, the background extends back and around, and the radiating lines from the central image actually draw the eye to the sides of the canvas (Get it? Can-vas? HA! Okay, now let's never think of that pun again). But they still don't truly embrace the potential of the 360 canvas, and use the conventional single image with background art.

Here's some can art by Oklahoma City's COOP Ale Works, a participant in this year's show.

Okay, they obviously aren't using the 360 capability of cans, because they already designed a brand image and don't have the time or money to adapt it. This is the vast majority of can art, of course, just label art adapted to a can. Not special, but in this case at least stays clean and manages to add to the original design work. A can allows for a monochrome background (unlike a bottle label), and here the black background brings out the reds and cream of the design. The text panel is clean and the branding remains intact. This is about the minimum you can do and have can art be solid design.

Of course, you can also do more, like Big Sky Brewing's Scape Goat can:
Now that is using the whole canvas. The entire landscape not only achieves the goal of lengthening the image, making the sky and mountains seem bigger (appropriately), but it changes as you move around the can. To the right of the goat you've got a vertical cropping of rocks, while to the left the trees and mountains trail off into the distance, and the goat's gaze and the slope of the lettering bring your eye off with them. The multiple levels keep the essentially black-and-white image interesting all the way around. We have a winner for my new favorite can design.

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