Q&A with our Beer Designer

“Answer the questions that you think people might want to ask”

That was the advice given to me by a fellow ‘blogger’ (a far more experienced one than me!) when I decided to start having a go at keeping a blog.

So I started to think about the sort of things that you might all want to ask about the Brewery. What sort of things go on ‘behind the scenes’ that you don’t always get to find out about. There are plenty of things that happen that probably wouldn’t make for very interesting reading, but one thing that did spring to mind was the design of our bold and brilliant images. Who is behind them all and how did we find the perfect designer for our branding?

Well, I can tell you that his name is Pete, he likes to drink beer and he’s really good at making our products stand out from the crowd! I sent him a few questions that might give you all an insight into how our ideas for a new beer become the image that you see when you drink a pint of Bluestone Beer.

How did working for Bluestone come about?

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It was pretty casual!

Amy messaged me asking if I knew any artists who might be able to create some pump clip designs for their new beer, I said I would be up for giving it a go and they happened to like what I sent in.

What made you want to get involved?

Even prior to Bluestone I was really into craft beer.  So as soon as Amy mentioned they were starting a brewery I was interested.

After initially speaking to Amy, Simon explained to me his vision for Bluestone and the products, big flavours, fresh water from the local Preseli’s (the same mountains I played on as a kid!) and a bold look. It was something I knew a lot of people would be interested in and something I knew I could work with.

On top of all this designing specifically for pump clips and bottle labels was something I had never done before, it was a new challenge for me artistically.

With all of these elements combined I couldn’t say no!

sketchesWhat is your job when you are not working on Bluestone projects?

During the day I’m a producer for a video game developer and I also run my own company developing smaller games.

Balancing all three can be a bit of a juggling act (especially as we approach the end of the tax year!!) but each one gives me a unique opportunity, allowing me to be creative and learn in different areas.

Every day varies wildly; I’ll be in a meeting with the investors in the morning, planning our next milestone in the afternoon, writing code on the train home from work and drawing characters for the next Bluestone beer in the evening! I love it.

Can you remember the first time that you saw your design on a beer bottle or in a pub?

I live in Nottingham, when the beers first started arriving in the pubs they were mostly local to Pembrokeshire – so it was actually quite a while before I saw one of the beers in real life rather than photos on Facebook!

I do definitely remember though, it was Bedrock Blonde on the pump in the Golden Lion, Newport. I was proud, especially as it seemed to really be drawing people’s attention next to more traditional ales that mostly use dark and murky colours for their designs.

Can you talk us through the process of designing a new image, once you have been photogiven the name of the new beer, what is your next step … ?

To begin with I take the name and the description and any other material I’ve been given and hit google. I look for anything I can use a reference whilst creating the image. That can be colours, shapes, art styles, characters, anything that might be relevant.

Once a few ideas start to form in my head I crack open Photoshop and start sketching. I use a Wacom tablet (a tool specifically designed for drawing directly in any compatible software package) to sketch out my initial ideas. I’ll focus on shape and scale, trying to work out how it will all piece together – this can sometimes take a few attempts but I try and keep it as quick and as loose as possible.

When the initial sketch is done I begin to explore colour to try and see what is right for the beer. Photoshop handily allows you to swap out block colours with a few clicks, so this allows for quick alteration.

After this stage has been signed off I move to working on the outlining. This bit is usually quite boring and takes a while. I zoom in very closely to the image and trace over the original sketch drawing in bolder more solid lines.

After outlining I begin to fill with the colours I chose previously, this results in an image which is close to the final clip but is flat and boring. I add highlights, shadows and details to get it to really pop.  One design that this technique worked particularly well on is the Rye’n’Stone clip, the lowlights and highlights of her hair really bring the image to life.

Then it’s just a case of adding the ABV and logos. Done!

Best bit about being a designer?

I always love seeing people’s reactions. Being able to bring things to life that give people a little bit of joy is very special.

But my favourite bit is when I’m working on something really fun and I just get “in the zone” for a lack of better description! Especially if I’m listening to some good music at the same time.

Worst bit?

Staying motivated with the long hours and having to sort your own tax…

What has been your favourite image to design for us so far?

Hard question!

I love how iconic Bedrock Blonde is. I like the energy in Red of Heaven. The Penguin in Rockhopper has a really bad ass scowl which is very cool and Rye’n’Stone is very slick. I can’t choose!