March 9, 2011

Dieline Week, Part III: Beer Label Design by Non-Breweries

This is the third installment of our week of looking at designs highlighted by the Dieline. I will caution readers that the last design in this post has strong language involved in the design.

First, a beer created for a the g(love) exhibit last month
Artist Stephen Antonson paired up with VSA NY to present g(love), a singular exhibition inspired by the bittersweet feeling of love lost and found. G(love): A Valentine from Stephen Antonson and VSA showcased 21 framed pairs of gloves and mittens picked up off the streets of New York and lovingly mismatched by Antonson. 
First, let's skip the debate on conceptual art and whether collecting gloves and mismatching them is really special (though, if you're interested in why it's worth money, I can't recommend highly enough Don Thompson's The $12 Million Stuffed Shark). The design for the bottle is cool and flip and a little disturbing, all appropriate for this type of contemporary art. I have no idea if the dissected horse was an intentional reference to Damien Hirst's preserved wildlife (like the shark after which the aforementioned book was named), but it's hard to imagine it's a coincidence.

Next we have a product designed by the Brooklyn design firm Freshthrills, as a collaboration "with local brew master Kelly Taylor of Kelso Of Brooklyn to bottle and package their Chocolate Lager, specially for our clients."
Anyone familiar with Freshthrills, knows that we can be a little fanatical over craft beer. In fact, it’s been our obsession of 2010... We aimed to develop naming, branding, packaging and other print collateral using Kelso Chocolate Lager....For all you history buffs, a Motorman is the title of a trolley engineer and during the early 1900’s, people commonly rode trolleys to get around downtown Brooklyn. In a lot of ways, the Motorman is a perfect symbol of resourcefulness because they not only operated and maintained the trolley but also acted as the conductor. It’s fair to say they had a tough, but respectable job. We likened the Motorman’s responsibilities to that of, Freshthrills and how we approach our work. To push the concept further, we developed the Motorman’s Decree, a set of guidelines which was imprinted on the coasters. This additional element allowed us to bring in a little humor and added a useful keep-sake to extend the life of the project.
This is simple and elegant and modern, but too much so. It just looks like so many other designs these days. Slim, outlined and shadowed all-caps font, ribbon banner underneath, straight line above. Very clean, very segmented, very bland. Even the coasters with the decree guidelines are very Nike-cliche ripoff. I get that it's not paid work, but it just seems uninspired.

A recent graduate of Parsons design school, Tess Goldon, put together a hypothetical Mexican beer she called Mictlan:
For this project, we were instructed to design a beverage of our choice. I decided to design a beer based on the beautiful graphics, colors, and history of The Day of the Dead. My beer is called Mictlan, named after the Aztec underworld where the spirits of the deceased would travel to find eternal rest. The journey to get there took four long years, and families of the departed would send them on their way with lavish celebrations of food, drinks, and flowers.
It's a cool take on a Dia de los Muertos aesthetic, with the bright colors and skulls, but it's a definitively American craft beer one. The font, the big fields of color, even the layered composition of the label is very industry standard and lacking that messy vibrancy common to much of Mexican art. The one element that stands out is the big skull at the top of the label that protrudes up.

Lastly, the foul-language-laden amateur work designed by Renee Fernandez and Ryan Rhodes:
Clever and funny, and I like the disconnect between circusy design and profanity. The use of different size fields, fonts and images really gives the work a dynamic, heightened by the neck labels.

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