My Secret Alter-Ego

Eagle eyed readers may have noticed a slight change in the blolg’s appearance a while back. Instead of luscious, yet slightly generic shots of beer bottles and taps, my site now has a quicky graphic of a megaphone, constructed from the silhouette of a bottleneck. It’s been christened ‘The Megafoam’ (by Phil) and damn, now I wish I’d thought of that for the blog’s name…

Anywho, I’m sure you’re all wondering how I could afford to hire a professional designer for what is essentially a hobby-blog. The answer is: I didn’t; I designed it myself. Ok, so it doesn’t look that professional. Humour me. I got bored whilst having a staffie, and started playing with some graphic design software on my work laptop. It came out ok, but I have plans to tinker with it in the future.

But to get back on topic, I do have a second secret career that few know about: graphic designing tap badges for the beers on tap at Golding’s.

Alright I’m being slightly obtuse here. What I mean is, I print out all the tap badges that go in the light boxes in Golding’s tap-banks. I could legitimately call this a second career though, because I probably do more actual design work that is actually used and seen by customers than most graphic design Interns in major companies could ever dream of.

You see we have rectangular tap badges at Golding’s and frequently small New Zealand breweries don’t have artwork that fits these. Garage Project are the notable exception to this. Which is why their tap badges frequently look rather sexy:

Noice.

Click to enlarge.

In other cases, some they have circular tap badges which look a little small and silly in the light box. High res versions of these can be scaled up sometimes to a good result. Frequently you can also get away with using a digitised bottle label. Sometime the brewery has no artwork In rare cases, the brewery’s branding is so hideous that Sean won’t allow it in the bar.

Whatever the reason, I frequently have to knock up tap badges for a range of beers and breweries. So I thought I’d share a few of my favourites.

The ParrotDog Pixel Series

This badge series began with searching ‘Dead Canary’ and amongst the more morbid images was a pixel-art canary, which I fell in love with. And boom, a series was born!

PDog Taps

Since I started these, ParrotDog has begun creating more poster art for their beers, which is great. It means I will probably phase this series out eventually. They remain however, some of my favourites, because these particular badges take a basic idea and adapt it to suit the beers across the entire brewery. Sometimes though, you have a concept that suits a specific beer, which leads to great one-off badges. It just so happens that two of my favourite creations are from the same brewery…

Funk Estate Oh Kamiyo & So’Fisticuffs

Funk Badges

Click make big.

The concept behind the Oh Kamiyo badge was to capture the feel of a bootlegged VHS box, complete with mistranslation in the Japanese characters (that was *totally* intentional…). Going to say I nailed that one. The So’Fisticuffs on the other hand, I was aiming for a vintage boxing poster. Whilst I captured the feel adequately, I would have liked to included more bombastic flavour text, but the limit of the medium frequently means simpler is better.

None of these though are my favourite tap badge I’ve ever created. Oh no. That honour goes to this little fellow. My masterpiece…

Yeastie Boys/Panhead/Firestone Walker Engelbert Pumpernickel

IMG_20140714_180828

Click size huge.

Here we see (the wrong) Engelbert Humperdinck with a loaf of pumpernickel for a head. I love this tap badge. From a design point of view, it’s not perfect by any means, but god-damn, it captures something about the beer and the people who made it. It was also immensely fun to Shop bread over the face of a historical figure…

I all seriousness, making tap badges is one of my favourite aspects of my job, but it really shouldn’t be. New Zealand’s Small breweries really need to brush up on brand promotion customer service (because that’s what this falls under ultimately) from a brand point of view.

It so happens, that I have the skills and technology to play with basic graphic design, but a lot of other bar managers don’t. As a result you frequently see poorly made, often handwritten (and sometimes barely legible) tap badges. This really doesn’t do anyone any favours; bars, breweries and certainly not customers.

This topic deserves a more focused and detailed post, which hopefully I will get around to (one day…). Suffice to say that two of my friends who are starting breweries in the next few months have consulted with me on the topic and I’ve told them the following:

  • Premade tap badges are best.
  • Three versions is ideal: circular, rectangular and square (in that order).
  • Printable A4 .pdf files (that don’t require scaling) are great for the average customer that doesn’t have access to design software.
  • Downloadable brewery logo files are my favorite (particularly .png files with transparent backgrounds).

Until everyone gets this right though, at least I get to play with Photoshop and CorelDraw and get paid for it.

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3 thoughts on “My Secret Alter-Ego

  1. Dream job! I’ve never designed for beer before. I’d love to some day. Beer branding seems so much more fun and creative than say…wine which is very much colour inside the lines. I also love how beer branding really pushes illustration.

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