CAMDEN—A new beer made by Blaze Brewing Co. has an interesting backstory on its autumnal, artistic label.
Massachusetts artist Andrew Houle did the artwork behind the new label. He happened to have a studio in the same building as Channel Marker Brewery in Beverly, Massachusetts. Not only was that extremely convenient to pop over for a pint, but, as it turns out, the brewery’s proximity became a fortuitous connection.
“Between my coming in for a brew for the last couple years and the brewery owners and staff getting to know me and what I did for a living, Channel Marker hired me to do the label artwork for their first official signature release,” he said. “Since, then I’ve been working with them on their labels for two years.”
If one good beer deserves another, Houle’s latest venture was to create custom artwork for his first Maine brewery: Blaze Brewing Co., which has a Camden location.
The new beer, King Tide, is a bourbon barrel-aged stout with Tahitian vanilla.
According to Blaze Brewing Co.: “It smells and tastes like sugar cookies, black and white cookies, and good whiskey. It is a beer that should be enjoyed in celebration.”
The beer will be released in draft form and in bottles at all Blaze locations January 29.
Given that Blaze Brewing did a collaboration with Channel Marker on a beer, it was only natural they learned about Houle’s work. He spoke with us on the entire process of creating the label.
His process starts with inspiration from the brewery and what they wanted to convey.
The image that Blaze wanted to use for their King Tide beer was an autumnal depiction of Mount Battie as seen from the Camden Harbor. Houle was inspired to paint the scene from a photograph titled “Camden Harbor in the Fall” taken by Brunswick photographer Benjamin Williamson.
“This is an incredible shot of the harbor, out from the water looking in,” said Houle. “As soon as I saw this, I said, ‘This is a powerful image; I can certainly make a beautiful painting from it.”
“I’m an oil painter, so I create an original oil painting for the next label release and that type of work is a lot different than someone cranking out an image on a computer,” he said.
Houle’s artwork has been described as “American realism” and he started by working on a hard-primed panel with graphite.
“In the course of my career, I very slowly started to figure out that the drawing is a road map for me,” he said. “The better the drawing, the more it translates into a better painting. Typically it takes much more time to get the drawing done first, then add in tone, shading, and detail work. Then, I do an underpainting using burnt sienna regardless if it’s for a beer label, gallery or a commission. Once that’s laid down, I’ll pull off paint and establish tone and warmth. Then I’ll lay down the rest of the color, black line. I just go and go until it’s done or until they’re screaming at me they need this now! It’s not a fast process, but it makes for a better painting.”
Once the painting is completed and dried and sealed, his business partner and friend of more than 20 years, John Cardinal takes over. Cardinal runs Tryptic Press, a design company.
“He gets in the driver’s seat and does all of the typeset–we work hand in hand, start to finish,” said Houle. “He puts a nice bow on the end result.”
For more information on the artist visit: andrewhoule.com
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com