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Arvon Brewing Co. Collaboration: Special Release, September 2022

I partnered with Arvon Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids, MI on a set of beer can/bottle labels for a special release of six beers. Arvon's brand centers on the Michigan outdoors, so when we discussed the artwork concepts, each one had an outdoor theme or activity attached to it. After the initial conversation and brainstorming session, I was given the freedom to develop those concepts as I saw fit. At the start of the project I wanted to create little self-contained scenes for each design, and I had the very beginnings of some character ideas floating around. I knew they would be cartoony and simple because of the fairly short project timeline, and rather than illustrate perfectly realistic people I aimed to create a specific aesthetic that would be consistent among the six scenes. My color palette was limited to 24 different swatches (choosing up to about 8 of those colors per design), with any deviations coming only from the various ways in which the colors interacted and were overlaid with each other. From the very start, lighting and atmosphere became an integral part of the illustrations, despite their simplicity. Scroll down to read more about my thought process for each of the illustrations.

A photograph of five beer cans and one beer bottle from Arvon Brewing Co., all with cartoon illustrated labels.

Design 1/6: Hyperlink

Hyperlink (10.1%) TNEIPA with Cryo Simcoe and Citra. Aromas of papaya, melon, orange, and peach. Flavors of papaya, peach, orange, lime, and cantaloupe. During our brainstorming session, the word "hyperlink" made us think of technology and space, so what better way to express that than through a stargazing scene? This was the first design of the set that I illustrated and I had just returned from a camping trip at Nordhouse Dunes, where we built a beach fire and looked at the stars. When I drew this I experienced something that I hadn't felt in a long time, where it felt as though the illustration was coming from somewhere deep within. The character, the lighting, and the overall vibe came so naturally and instinctively, and really set me up for the other five designs after this and my excitement for the project as a whole.

Design 2/6: Peaches & Cream

Peaches and Cream (5.0%) Kettle Sour with Peaches, Freeze Dried Peaches, Marshmallows, Vanilla and Lactose. Aroma of fresh peaches and sweet canned peaches, with hint of vanilla bean. Flavors of intense peach with a depth that can only come from the multiple forms of peaches used! Just a touch of simple syrup-esque sweetness from the marshmallow and vanilla. The phrase "peaches and cream" immediately evoked a picnic scene. Interestingly, this is the only design that features more than one character (for no particular reason), and I absolutely love these gal pals. The sunset and the warmth of the scene reminds me of losing time chatting with a friend until you suddenly look up and realize how late it has gotten.

Design 3/6: Intercoastal

Intercoastal (5.0%) Kettle Sour with Orange, Mango, Banana, Toasted Coconut and Lactose. With tropical flavors, we envisioned a scene on the water. I thought a Sunfish sailboat would be the perfect not-too-complicated vehicle to capture a solitary and serene day on the lake. This design is among my favorites of the set.

Design 4/6: Modern Classic

Modern Classic (7.0%) Arvon's modern take on a classic Midwest IPA with Citra, Idaho 7 and Simcoe. Aromas of lemon grass, orange, and star fruit. Medium body and moderate bitterness. When we brainstormed this design we talked about reading in a chair or a hammock, looking out at the lake. Nice and simple, relaxing, classic. I'm really pleased with the desaturated overcast color palette of this environment.

Design 5/6: Mortal Enemy

Mortal Enemy (14%) Barleywine with Vanilla, Cocoa Nibs and Cinnamon. When brainstorming the concept for this design, we talked about the intensity and the high ABV of this beer. The scene itself should be intense and dark, and we imagined a mountain, eerie and looming in the distance.