December 31, 2010

The Best Craft Beer Art of 2010

Well, it's the end of the first calendar year of Pour Curating, and the end of the year means the promised rundown of the "Best of 2010" post.

As with all things, there is too much great art to really make from one post. I decided to limit myself to highlighting three artists, taking the readers' poll into account as an incentive for places to get out the vote next year.

Stacey George - Clown Shoes Brewing

Winning the readers' poll with 67% of the 237 votes cast, Stacey George's design of Clown Shoes art was a big hit with readers. This was a particularly interesting case, because we also got to see George redesign one label to fit with the brewery's oeuvre.

Stacey sent me some of her new work, including this awesome piece:
Yeah, they named a beer Tramp Stamp. I love it. And, just when you think there aren't any clown shoes, we can look closer at the tattoo:
Okay, so we've talked a lot this year about masculinity and femininity in beer art. So it probably makes me a bit of  pig to say the woman in this illustration is pretty hot... but she's hot. And the tramp stamp gives her just that little bit of trashiness. To be honest, George has a real talent for depicting eye candy of both genders (see the Eagle Claw Fist guy above, or the Brown Angel figure). Yes, I'm a pig. But the larger point is that the art is excellent, amusing, tongue-in-cheek, and eye-catching. In short, it's all of the things that make George's Clown Shoes artwork some of the best of the year.

Ezra Johnson-Greenough aka Samurai Artist - Upright Brewing

One of the first posts I did was on Samurai Artist's label for Upright's Four Play label (it's the one with the nipple), and even though I only looked at two of his labels this year, I think the work was some of the best I saw. For one thing, look at the range displayed by just the two labels: We have an all-digital work of bright colors, butterflies and sensuality, and a hand-drawn work of autumn colors, leaves and an intricately rendered hand. That's talent. I just wish we could get Upright's beers in PA.

For those of you who don't know, Samurai Artist's blog The New School is one of the most read beer blogs (#5 on Wikio's December rankings), with multiple excellent authors. They focus on the Portland-area craft beer scene, but cover a number of different topics and are a must-read for craft beer readers.

Lee Verzosa - Stillwater Artisan Ales
Finishing a relatively close second in the readers' poll, tattoo artists Lee Verzosa's artwork was certainly one of the better arrivals to the craft beer art scene. Using intricate lines, a variety of skillfully muted color palettes, and a sense of history-steeped imagery, Verzosa's labels were consistently beautiful, dynamic and the type of art one can look at for a long time, over and over again. Verzosa is maybe the best of the beer tattoo artists, which represent a decent presence in the niche. Perhaps that is because working on confined areas of flesh builds artistic skills that are useful for working in the relatively confined area of labels. Whatever the reason, Verzosa's art shows us how well ability on one canvas can translate to another.


Okay, those are the three craft beer artists I (and you) chose as the best of the year. There were plenty more I could have highlighted, and there are probably many I missed. If you're a brewery or artist and think you got shafted... well, my apologies. Post a comment, add me to your d-list, and make sure I know about the great work you're doing. If you're just a craft beer or design fan and think I missed something, chime in and tell everyone.

Thanks from this Pour Curator to everyone who's commented, voted, or read a post on this blog this year. I've had a great time, and I'm looking forward to more great beer art in 2011.

Updated: It took me a full year to realize that I originally jumped a year into the future on the title of this post.

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