Ink Link (online magazine) ran an article about the relationship between artists and the craft beer industry and I was interviewed to share my perspective on the topic.
Enjoy an excerpt of the article including my interview below, or click here to view the article in-full.
Local breweries are incubators for creativity. Often, these small- to medium-sized companies try to stand out by expressing the individuality of their brand. But this isn’t just expressed through their risk-taking brews like experimental sours, English bitters or rotating single-hop IPAs. Many breweries are modern-day patrons of the arts, commissioning vibrant and fantastical imagery to grace the “canvas” of their aluminum cans.
In recent years, New Hampshire breweries have released beers with labels that include cybernetic tiger-men, mythical warriors and sweater-wearing sea creatures. So who is behind this artwork?
Brew News went behind the scenes to meet a few creators whose artwork stands out; New Hampshire artists who say they found a natural — if unexpected — marriage of creativity with their local brewers.
Many artists see the craft brewery scene as very supportive of the arts. “I definitely see that there is an influence and a support system, I guess you could say,” said beer label artist Steve Lee.
A longtime friend of Michael Hauptly-Pierce and Steve “Doc Jones” Bradbury, the owners of Lithermans Limited in Concord, Lee has made over 50 labels for them over the past five years. Lee said about 20 of them are printed on high-gloss acrylic and hanging on the walls of the taproom.
Through his company, Steve Lee Design, he has also provided branding design work for Ancient Fire Mead & Cider in Manchester, Steadfast Spirits and Troubles Moonshine in Concord and The Flight Center Beer Cafe in Nashua.
Lithermans was Lee’s first big break as a freelance illustrator, after retiring from a career as a freestyle snowboarder and a designer for a graphic apparel company. Since then, he’s found a niche in the craft brew industry.
“That’s one of my favorite parts of doing these beer labels, specifically with Litheramns, is the fact that in my 20 plus years of doing graphic design, I’ve never had the artistic freedom like I have with Lithermans beer labels,” Lee said.
One of Lee’s favorite labels for Lithermans is Cyber Tooth Tiger, the name of a sour made with pear, ginger and Gewurztraminer grapes. He also likes Under my Plum, Oranges by the Freeway, Moonage Daydream, Styles and Dynamics and Kashmir.
Thank you to Lithermans and to Ryan Lassard of Ink Link Magazine for running this article about the artistic side of the craft beer industry.