Since The Great Canadian Beer Fest was this past weekend, and The Hoyne Brewing Company made its public debut at last year’s beer fest, we decided it would be a good time to share a little bit about our history and working process with this fantastic brewery.
We’d had the good fortune of getting to know the man behind the beer while he was brewmaster at The Canoe Brewpub in downtown Victoria. Seeing as the beer there was terrific, and we were working frequently with former brewpub manager Shane Devereaux (the man behind Habit Coffee), we took a lot of “business” meetings in the brewpub, and on the incredible Canoe patio. Mr. Hoyne himself would frequently stop by our table to say hi, give us a taste of whatever he’d been working on, and get a peek of whatever we were working on. During these frequent run-ins, we developed a friendly rapport and a mutual respect for each other’s work. When the time came for Sean to leave Canoe in search of a project he could call his own, he asked us to sit down with him. It didn’t take long to realize that we had a similar approach to work, and a similar passion for what we do.
Our first official “business” meetings with Sean started long before any of the brewing began. We started with loose conversations about what we liked and didn’t like, and about how Sean wanted people to feel when they saw one of his beers. It was a tough “brief” if you could call a 2 hour conversation a “brief”: he wanted his brand to be expressive and exciting, playful and imaginative, but also somewhat formal and able to hold its own at a black-tie event.
Designing a logo was only one small part of what we needed to do to get to where we needed to go. We kept the logo simple and classic (with a bit of a hand-made feel as a nod to Sean’s approach to beer), so that we had room to experiment with the label designs themselves. We wanted to keep the brand as a whole, open to evolution, without losing some standard of consistency, and a timeless overall character.
It took us quite a while, and a lot of walks down dead-end roads before we finally found a style for his labels that could incorporate the wide range of concepts and ideas we were coming up with together. The process generally involved a lot of revisions and iterations, but it always incorporates a few specific elements:
1. A heavy emphasis on unique and expressive typography.
2. Imagery with a narrative character.
3. A combination of hand-drawn and digitally manipulated graphics.
From the beginning, our entire process with Hoyne has been face-to-face, close-knit, and very personal. The down-to-earth nature of the business is emphasized by the fact that Sean’s primary business partner is his wife Chantal, who handles almost everything about the brewery that doesn’t involve making beer. Given our own familiarity with running a marriage/business partner operation, we know that relationships of this kind can be more challenging than cut-and-dry business relationships. However, we find that working with genuineness and honesty yields work that reflects real emotion and as a result, is more compelling for an audience.
Usually, Sean begins by deciding on what type of beer he wants to brew (sometimes based on his past experience, sometimes based on current experimentation in his top secret beer laboratory). From there, we work together to generate ideas and concepts for naming and illustrating the beer. Sometimes our inspiration comes from the specific type of beer or its brewing process, sometimes it comes from anecdotes or personal experiences (for example, “Devil’s Dream” is one of Sean’s favorite old fiddle tunes), and sometimes it just materializes out of thin air.
After establishing a name and a general direction, we start to develop ideas for the artwork. This involves making lots of sketches that consider imagery, typography, and narrative in equal measure. This is where we get to play, and out of dozens of small sketches we often end up with a whole lot of ridiculous and/or terrible ideas, and only a few actual label candidates. The sketch from which we start to create finished artwork is almost always chosen by consensus, and believe it or not, by the time we hit on something that’s going to work, we all know it. We find that its only by developing lots of different concepts for each beer, that we’re able to find one that really works. In the future, we may be able to whittle down this process a bit, but it’s really enjoyable, so we’re happy rolling with it for now.
To create the final label artwork, we gather whatever image references may be necessary for us to produce the different elements of the artwork and we begin to draw it out on paper. We think even the smallest details play a big role in the overall piece, so we work at a scale that’s much larger than the final product, enabling us to include as much detail as we feel is necessary. The final drawings often go through a revision process, along with the typography, which always starts out by hand as well.
Once we’re happy with the handwork, we scan it, or digitally photograph it, so that we can start manipulating it in the computer. We add colour, additional texture, combine the drawings with photography (if necessary), and we create the final typographic layouts before placing the file onto the print template and adding all of the technical details (barcode, liquor-board details, write-up, etc.). Often, the digital manipulation stage is as labour intensive as the handwork stage, as we spend lots of time making sure that colors, composition, and the final details come out just right.
While there is a relatively consistent overall process for developing each label, we try not to get stuck in doing things a specific way, and let concept for each beer dictate the style in which it’s executed. This fluid and evolving process ensures that each label is unique, while the fact that they’re produced by the same group in the same way of thinking, ensures that they’ll be at least somewhat recognizeable as being part of the same brand.
In just under a year, Hoyne has established itself as a significant force in Victoria’s microbrewery landscape. Sean and his team’s focus on producing the highest quality product and supporting it with great service and a strong emphasis on design, certainly won’t hurt its chances at continued growth! With their passion, integrity, and creativity Sean and his team consistently prove themselves to be among our favorite clients and collaborators. We’re incredibly excited about our next year of working together!
There are a couple more brews in the making, and we hope you’re as excited as we are to try them out. If you find yourself in the Rock Bay area, you can go visit Sean and the rest of the Hoyne team at the brewery (101-2740 Bridge St.) and pick up (or fill up) a growler or two!