The Making of a Label

mattandandrew
mattandandrew

Yes, it's true, there was a time when Bellwoods did not have a Bottle Shop open 7 days a week. You may have heard of The Dark Ages. Perhaps you only remember it as a time when you felt low but could never quite put your finger on the culprit of your sadness. But every brewery starts somewhere, and we chose to begin with 8 draft lines. Later on, we started bottling on a modest machine that couldn't keep up with demand (I'll spare you the riveting mechanical details), but when we finally moved to a leaner, meaner bottler we decided to up our game in terms of labels. The classic Bellwoods label is utilitarian, but we wanted something that would reflect the unique personalities of each beer we brew. In came the incredibly talented Matt and Andrew McCracken of Doublenaut design company. Throughout the past year they've delighted and amazed us with each new label, fleshing out our beloved characters like the Wizard Wolf, Monogamy owls, Hellwoods devil, or Motley grim reaper. (The new demonic Brettal Head goat is everything we could have dreamed of).

After revealing a bit of the 'behind the scenes' on making Motley Cru this year, and keeping in mind how much positive feedback we receive about our Doublenaut designs, we thought it would be nice to take a closer look at how these labels come to fruition. We recently sat down with the McCracken brothers and asked them some questions about their process.

Bellwoods: When did you decide or know that design work was something you two wanted to pursue? Was the decision simultaneous?

Doublenaut: We both went to school for Graphic Design and have been doing it more or less since then. We’ve also always been interested in music packaging, which was probably what attracted us most to this profession.

B: Do you find that designing beer labels for Bellwoods is different than your usual design work? Or fairly similar?

D: It’s fairly similar to a lot of the jobs we end up doing. The beer labels are very much like gig-posters which we used to do quite a lot of. The general idea is to draw the viewer in with something that looks cool, but still represent the product and get all the information across as well.

B: We can assume it varies, but approximately how long does it take to design a full label from idea stage to sticker?

D: Definitely depends on the beer. Some beers have names or concepts that are hard to design for, so a lot more time is spent on concepting. Sometimes a good idea comes right away and everything goes smoothly. Anywhere between a couple of days to over a week.

B: You tend to divide the labels amongst yourself. How much do you collaborate…or not?

D: We usually just split them up. We’ll help each other with concepting sometimes, if we’re stuck on coming up with a good idea, but then whoever is heading up that label will see it to completion. Near the end of the design we usually look at it together again, and make sure everything looks as good as it can before sending it off for approval.

B: In thinking about the work we do as brewers here, I find that we get the most work done early in the morning (like, really early) before the rest of the staff arrives. When do you guys get your best work done?

D: Neither of us are typically early risers. And it is hard to get work done during the day when there are other clients or tasks that interrupt any kind of serious work flow. Later at night is when we both get a lot of work done. Not ideal but it just always ends up that way.

B: I once saw a graph that showed the work efficiency of computer programmers after certain amounts of beers. The magic number turned out to be 1.5 (which was even more efficient than sober!), but after that point productivity plummeted. Do you two ever crack a beer (Bellwoods or otherwise) while working? We won’t tell anyone (other than the people who read this blog post).

D: We usually have some beers going when working late, or if we had an annoying afternoon. Working next door to Bellwoods usually means there’s no shortage of beer, [at almost any hour] which is a nice perk of our office being where it is. I don’t know if it makes us anymore productive, but I’d say it might keep us at the computer a bit longer.

B: Favourite Bellwoods beer?

D: We like the IPA’s a lot. Cat Lady and Catherine Wheel are always favourites. Always get a Roman Candle when they’re around.

B: Favourite Bellwoods label?

D: Tough to choose, but we really like Wizard Wolf, Cat Lady, Hellwoods & Lost River

And who doesn't love a good before and after?

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