July 14, 2010

More Left Hand, and Three Floyds Punky, Scary Fun

In my ongoing effort to clear out the Google Reader file of Beernews.org-posted images to critique, I'm going to take a look at some more of the new Left Hand label series, and then tackle a bunch of labels by what is probably the most famous brewery whose beer I've never had, Three Floyds.

So, as you know, I'm a huge fan of the new Left Hand artwork, and the Twin Sisters DIPA label is no exception.
As you can see, it shares many of the same stylistic characteristics. There is the limited color palette, the immensely intricate, looping shapes in the background (this time of grain-like designs), the soft, curving shape, and the center-focused, almost symmetrical composition. Like the others, the fun in the Twin Sisters label comes from exploring the background elements (the image is, of course, not at all symmetrical on closer inspection), and following the piece around with all of the swirls. Perhaps why I like these so much is that they remind me a little of Jackson Pollock, whose famous drip paintings similarly dance the eye all around the canvas.

Then we have the Left Hand-Terrapin collaboration, the Oxymoron.
From the press release: "Obnoxious yet reserved, elevated yet modest, it’s the embodiment of blending two brewing philosophies together in order to achieve singularity. Consider it an expression of the cruel kindness."

This time, we have similar images swirling together, but not together, in a ying-yang-type design (which is totally appropriate, given the description). Two wolves, two female heads, and then a tiny logo of Left Hand and Terrapin. I think this label does what it sets out to do, though not a ton more. Maybe I've been spoiled by the intricacy of the other Left Hand Art. It's pretty (art criticism term), it's distinctive, and it's striking from a decent distance. I do like the fiery hand that the Left Hand logo is set in.

Now onto a slew of labels by Three Floyds, which as we shall see is characterized by a balance of funny and severely creepy.

First, their collaborations with Half-Acre Beer, the She Wolf IPA and the Invasion Helles Bock:
The She Wolf takes a post-apocalyptic, punk take on the image of Rome founders Romulus and Remus being raised by a female wolf...
...And the Invasion Helles Bock looks like what would happen if Jacques Cousteau and Quentin Tarantino had ever made a film together.

Seriously, this stuff is weird. That's good, by the way. But who thinks this up? The wolf you can sort of get to from some Roman mythology and a love of hard rock music cover art. But the fish with samurai weapons? I get that it's a reference to the fact that the two breweries share a  waterway, but wow. That's creativity.

As for the actual art itself, the She Wolf artwork is probably more cohesive. It's a dark, grotesque image that would be at home in many post-apocalyptic movies or artworks. The Thomas Hart Benton-like figures are consistent with the tomb, and the idea that you should be scared to drink what they're drinking comes through loud and clear.

But I think the Invasion art is actually better, in part because it's just more ambitious. I mean, samurai carp? (are they carp? catfish? Someone from Chicago help me here.) And the fluid looking movement of the fish actually suggests the idea of underwater motion. All of this, while still having the tone of a lighthearted battle.

Recently, Three Floyds announced a collaboration with Mikkeller on the Ruggoop:
Pretty straightforward tattoo-influenced punk artwork. Not bad, certainly, as it incorporates all the elements (Mikkeller is Danish), stands out, and conforms to the established branding (which, if you're keeping score, I think in this case we can safely classify as "masculine"). It's not Bushido-following sea life, though.

Okay, in the non-collab section of Three Floyds, we have the Apocalypse Cow:
The piece is by Chicago silkscreen artist Dan Grzeca (pronounced Jet-sah), whose Etsy page sells these. Somewhere between a Van Gogh post-Impressionism and the postwar postmodern style, this seems to fit Three Floyds' funny/bleak motif well. The cyclopean cow with ammo belt and explosions behind him manages to be both humorous and foreboding. The cow's eye reminds me a little of PA folk artist Jack Savitsky (I swear, I grabbed this photo from the Internet before realizing it was from nearby friends George and Sue at the Outsider Folk Art Gallery!)

Okay, so let's close with the label art for the relatively new  Gorch Fock Helles Lager, a beer named after a German ship that saw some ups and downs.

This is sort of a historic spin on Three Floyds' usual theme. The maritime backdrops sets off the skeletal/angelic (again, suitable given the usual Three Floyds ethos) figure in center. I like the whale breaching on the right, the cresting waves that frame the image, and the use of complimentary colors (yellow and purple) to heighten the contrast. The purple seems to be the darker side of the usual creepy-fun Three Floyds dichotomy with the light yellow keeping the label from being too dark and not any fun. I also like the eagle looking intently down, like maybe he's spotted dinner.

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