November 1, 2010

Some Label Art in the Spirit of Halloween

So those of you who know me know that I'm not the world's biggest fan of Halloween, thanks to an unfortunate childhood incident where I moved to a town that changed Halloween so it didn't fall on a school night, and thus devastated a costumed 5th-grade me who suddenly found himself the only kid in town that had missed his favorite holiday. Yes, that was both a long sentence and a brief rant about why moving holidays for political reasons is the epitome of evil.

I'm better now.

Still, it's the season and there are a ton of creepy labels, so let's take a look at a few.

First up, the famed Surly Darkness can art:
Simple, stark and creepy. We see the red-and-black color scheme (get ready for lots of that in this post), the homage to traditional monsters (in this case, a vampire, which is a bit played out lately but this one is a bit more terrifying and less annoying looking than Robert Pattinson), and a clear use of a throwback serif font. Not special, maybe, but solid work. From the brewery release:
In 2008, tattoo artist, Nik Skrade, designed the label... In 2009, local artist, Dave Witt was commissioned for the Darkness artwork, and the City of Brooklyn Center joined the party. This year, Aesthetic Apparatus has designed the label and is beginning the new tradition of a yearlong series of original artwork for our beer. So, that’s how this humble little/big beer became the unexpected juggernaut you now hold in your hands. Let’s raise a glass to all the artists and beer geeks that have made it possible!”
Looks like we'll be seeing more from Aesthic Apparatus (not a bad name for a design studio), so I'll look forward to it.

Next up, Flossmoor Station's Beelzebeer Ale.
I'd be okay if brewers gave up the need to make a demon beer with every 666th batch, but this label is pretty good. It's a little busy at the center, but the sharp lines generally make for an interesting image. The demon is suitably defined from the background and has ample horns to display his evilness. This is a particularly good example of how to create variety of images in grayscale.

The most interesting creepy labels we'll be looking at are from Freetail Brewing in San Antonio:
Both labels seem influenced by the brewery's proximity to Mexico. The Outlaw Macaw (great name) has a slightly doctor's office version of the Dia de Los Muertos happy skull. I also like the bird. The Witicus has a nice half-demon half-citrus. Both are also showing influences of the silkscreen concert poster design that's becoming more prevalent in beer label design.

The last Halloween labels are from back in July, but fit thematically.
The Left Hand label art series continues to be excellent. In this case, the background shows creepy Dia de los Muertos-esque skulls around a large skull. The text, as with the other labels in the series, emerges from the image. In case you're wondering, the second one is the barrel-aged version. What's interesting is how the artist blends the creepy wavy lines into an image that is at times sensual (look at the female figures next to the skull's cheeks on either side). The image might be steeped in traditional Halloween colors and themes, but there's a lot more going on than your standard eeriness.


  1. one of my favorite Halloween-like labels is Grand Teton's Black Cauldron... Wychwood's Hobgoblin deserves an honorable mention as well

  2. Although I got started a bit too late this year to post the Halloween collection - my blog started on Oct. 31 - the Surly reminds me of Drax Beer from Romania.
    But, it has much better quality for the artwork, and I'm willing to bet a much better product on the inside.