Your brand is your customers’ perception of your company (including your products and your culture). It’s that gut feeling about what you do that ultimately shapes why they either love or hate you. This messaging manifests through many touch points, the most important of which may be your package design.
When it comes to packaging design, inspiring art and quality craft beer have always paired well for Eugene-based craft brewery, Ninkasi Brewing Co. From its very beginning, Ninkasi dedicated itself to art, creating an in-house design team to direct and produce all branding. This year, Ninkasi takes that commitment to the next level with an Artist in Residence (AIR) program. The brewery will open its doors to selected artists with a variety of skillsets, and artists will be contracted annually to work hand in hand with Ninkasi’s marketing and design teams.
Beginning July 2015 (today!), Ninkasi will debut the program with its first AIR artist, Neal Williams. Williams’ artwork is absolutely amazing (check it out). A Eugene-based gig poster artist and illustrator, Williams has worked with notable bands including The Black Keys, Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Matthews Band, The Head and The Heart, Soundgarden, Andrew Bird and Interpol among others.
“The forward-thinking use of artwork in our creative has been a significant factor in the success of our brand,” explained Jon Rogers, Ninkasi CMO. “We are thrilled to launch a program to support artists in our local communities and at the same time, help us achieve our mission to Perpetuate Better Living.”
This is not the first time Ninkasi has collaborated with outside artists. Throughout the years, various projects have included collaborations in design and music. Annabelle Garcia, daughter of famed Jerry Garcia, is one of those examples. Garcia provided the key illustrations for three beer releases, including Ninkasi’s Special Release beer, Maiden the Shade. More recently, Ninkasi joined forces with Neal Williams to create the key art for Ground Control, an Imperial Stout fermented with Ale yeast that survived a trip to space and back. After the success of that release in April 2015, the brewery decided it was time to create a program to harness these relationships.
“When I came to Ninkasi, I got the chance to see the brewing process and learn more about the care and attention to detail that goes into the beer; it’s all about taking the time to produce something of quality,” Williams said. “I feel exactly the same way about my illustration work.”
Starting this month, Williams will set up a workspace inside of Ninkasi’s Eugene headquarters. There, Williams will continue his work on outside projects while lending his illustration talents and expertise to Ninkasi-specific collaborations throughout the next year.
“Our goal is to continue to enhance our brand, our workplace and the greater Ninkasi community,” Rogers state. “Through the AIR program, we’ll bring multiple artists with varied skills into our brewery to engage with our workers, offer seminars and collaborate on key projects.”
“So much of my work with bands is done solely over email; being able to go into work and collaborate in-person has been a breath of fresh air,” Williams said. “I’ve been impressed with the amount of creativity surging throughout Ninkasi, as well as the fact that no matter what your position is, your opinion is taken seriously.”
Williams’ first projects will include the label art for a unique offering from the brewery, Imperial Pumpkin Sleigh’r, along with special edition artwork for its India Red Ale, Dawn of the Red, for the 2015 Halloween timeframe.