August 22, 2010

Five by Foothills Brewing

We've seen a decent amount of poster and propaganda influence in beer label art. Some of it, like that by Hopworks, seems to be fairly self-aware of its origins. Other times, the influences can be more subtle and simply inform a style that the brewery uses as part of its brand. The hallmarks of that style are large, bold color fields, heroic figures (heroic meaning there is one single, central element), and a background designed to focus attention on the main image (usually through radiating lines, or a low crowded element beneath a big, elevating sky).

The Winston-Salem, NC brewery Foothills Brewing is one of those breweries that has embraced some of the elements (mostly) without using them as a send-up in the design. (All images via
So this is the Baltic Porter, and we get a label that both fits the Nordic idea of a Baltic porter, and the heroic character of the worker propaganda art style. What's nice here (and in other Foothills work) is color. We see a lovely shade of ice blue that's dark enough to make the secondary silver work. Then they use the pink of the heroine's outfit to really pop against the cool color scheme. Incidentally, it also makes the yellow logo jump out. The only issue is that the lettering, which works really well on the bottom, kind of gets lost amidst the snow/staff/crowned head at the top.

Let's look at Foothills' take on that most overused image of craft beer, the hop.
The Hoppyum IPA label actually manages to make an old subject seem different. The stylizing manages to somehow glorify the hop without glorifying hoppiness (not that the beer is short on that, I'm sure). But the hops look more like noble plants than the objects of sticky, spicy grotesquerie that we see so often. Again, we see the color scheme working well for Foothills. The sage green, brown and oranges all work well and keep with the polished, stylized look.

Remember I said they mostly do not use the style as a sendup?
Okay, so this one shows that they're obviously aware of the style. This guy may as well have come off a Solidarity poster. He even looks a little like a young Lech Walesa, actually, hoisting his beer in freedom and brotherhood and a feeling of something decidedly lefty. Still though, fun as it is, they stay true to the style and composition they've established: Heroic figure, limited color palette, contrasting colors that go together, and a backdrop of distinct color fields
All right, I am going to assume that the badass viking's name is Torch, due in part to the fiery color of his beard. Anyway, this is great use of a warm color palette, making the label bright, interesting and making the hero fearsome-looking. It's simple but still dynamic, though, as Torch's profile image draws our gaze off the canvas (onto the beer next to it?) and the color gradations suggest movement in his hair.

And finally, we see the same elements in the most '70s of the labels (definitely more on the poster than the propaganda side), the Sexual Chocolate:
I like the logo as the woman's necklace. In fact, they should explore doing that more often, as the yellow circle can only fit in so many places. They even manage to make the lettering stand out when it's red-on-red.

All in all, good solid stuff from Foothills, which produces a consistent style of varied but distinctive design work.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for writing this post. I'm the artist who creates all of the illustrations for Foothills - it's nice to see people noticing the branding!