June 12, 2012

Lori Gilbert's New Look for Old Orange

Thanks to a comment on a recent post, I came across some new artwork for Orange, California's Old Orange Brewing Company by an artist named Lori Gilbert.

Gilbert's work, which you can see on her site, is diverse to say the least. For those of you too lazy to click or behind Pentagon-strength firewalls, her portfolio on her site is divided into the categories of "urban contemporary," "birds," "landscapes/seascapes" and "photorealistic." And the work in urban contemporary ranges from quasi-Japanese tattoo-like designs to a piece honoring the Los Angeles Lakers. Let's look at what she does for OOB:

The Old Dummy is an American Strong Ale. We see Gilbert's gone with urban contemporary, from the dripping paint to the swirling lines and medieval script lettering. Here's how the piece looks in a label:

Nice use of QR code there, though it just takes you to their site where, unfortunately, I could not learn about the history of the Old Dummy brand name, so I can't tell you much about why there's a train. I like it, though. The barrels are the only thing that seems weird. Of course there's no strict perspective, and the surreal/Escheresque thing work, but the beer isn't barrel-aged, so they seem out of place.

Onto the Thumb Master, an Imperial IPA:
Whoa that's a lot of red! This piece is like half video game, half old Communist propaganda poster. Again we have the dripping paint and snaking swirls, both used to great effect. This image is a bit cleaner, and I think the black backgrounds and accents really helps the design pop. This is the type of work that jumps out at you from across a beer store when it's on a bottle.

 Okay, onto the Pour Curator's litmus test for any brewery: How do we deal with the Blonde Ale?
So, yes, we used the cliche blond woman. Though we avoided all manner of terrible possibilities with the idea of a "backseat blonde" (Hey OOB owners: There better be a good reason for that name). This is consistent stylistically with the other designs, though, and Gilbert has kept the blonde classy (if a shameless waster of beer). Those who have perused Gilbert's portfolio know she is not afraid of breasts, but stays quite tasteful as a rule, so we see something similar here. Yes, she's an anatomically impossible Barbie Doll figure, but there's enough else going on that the piece stays interesting. The red trees, the text in the back, the design on her bicep, and the fragmented shapes in the lower right are all visually cool elements.

Last up, the Street Fair Kolsch:
Here, Gilbert has departed a bit and has created more of a straight street scene with some of her trademark swirls along the bottom to tie the design in. Nice shades in the sky and the hazy coronas around the lamps do kind of make it feel like a warm night where you'd love a crisp, refreshing Kolsch. The OOB logo in the bottom right is a tough forced, especially since it is probably better added as a graphic design element in the final label.

That may be, though, because the piece predated the label effort. Gilbert shot me a note explaining how she got involved in OOB:
This whole project started because I had an art show at their brewery and one of the owners, Jerry, wanted to do something really unique and different for the labels. The brewery is owned by four guys who all grew up in orange and they wanted to use a local artist for the full line of crafted beer!
So, it could be an adapted piece from before she started doing the lables. There a few images of her show at OOB on Lori's Facebook Page, if you're interested in the type of very non-threatening stalking on which geeking out about beer art thrives.

Nice work, and kudos to OOB for using a local artist. It's giving them a nice, defined look that I think matches their market pretty well and is distinct from their numerous regional competitors. Helps to have local talent in your brewery, of course, but there are talented artists everywhere, which is why there's really no excuse for having bad or even mediocre art on your bottles. It's a great way to launch a packaging effort and build ties to the community. I'll keep my eyes out to see if OOB and Gilbert continue rolling out interesting stuff.

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