In C R A F T E D we are not only passionate craft beer fans, but we are also thrilled about creativity and design. This is why when both universes intertwine, we get excited and lose our minds a little..!
Expressing creatively - and successfully - the identity and personality of a brand from the insights offered by a client is not always an easy task. For that reason, and to understand better what the creative process consists in behind those designs that leave us speechless (and with empty pockets), we have spoken with a reference in the sector, the graphic designer Albert Gabba from Estudi Gabba.
Albert is the culprit of projecting and giving life to mythical designs such as Medical Stout from La Calavera (that packaging!), creating the identity of the distributor, brewery and tap room La Black Flack, or conceiving, among others, the disruptive labels of the most coveted cans of our craft scene, specifically the ones from the Girona brewery Soma Beer. I want to thank again Albert for giving us the opportunity to get a little closer to his work through this post.
Ø: Every time you face a new project related to craft beer, what are the questions that you usually ask your customers to obtain information and better understand their needs?
Albert: The first thing I do is research the client. Brand philosophy, who they are and what kind of beer they brew, what type of project they are and how they present themselves to their audience, and how they want to be perceived by it.
What is particularly important to me when dealing with a new project, is if it already has a previously established baseline, or if there is margin for creativity when it comes to presenting ideas or proposals. Often this is what determines the role of the designer within the project.
Ø: Once you have defined your clients' objectives, do you have any particular system that will help you start collecting ideas and look for inspiration? Any specific routine?
Albert: I’d like to link to my previous answer, it depends on whether or not there is a rigid and previously established baseline, because this will frame the line of my work. If the answer is yes, and the client already has very clear idea of what he wants, the creative process is shorter and I go straight to the execution, there is not much more mystery to it.
My routines are to spend many hours looking for info and another bunch of hours staring at the ceiling. And from the combination of these, the proposals that I will present to the client appear.
On the other hand, if there aren’t any rules in the project yet, I go somewhat crazy and my head starts moving in a thousand miles per hour and I think a lot of stupidities (that I discard in a matter of seconds …). Eventually one stupidity takes protagonism of the previous one and, from time to time, between stupidity and stupidity, some idea appears that I like. And I note it down fast because they will disappear as fast as they come. But actually I write down all the ideas - the stupid ones too! - because there are times when these ones end up being the good ones.
Anyway, in any of the two cases, I work a lot on finding info and documentation, both physical and online...
Ø: In your opinion, what qualities do you think a good graphic designer should have who is interested in working for the craft beer sector?
Albert: I think that precisely the world of craft beer is sufficiently wild for a graphic designer or an illustrator who enjoys his work. There are almost no limits in terms of form or content. It is a completely different world from wine in this aspect, and you can do almost anything you like.
I remember when the scandal of La Camarga happened in Barcelona, with the illegal eavesdropping of Alicia Sanchez Camacho and José Zaragoza. I can not imagine any wineries labeling a wine under the name of Alice the Dog.
Against the Grain, for example, used an illustration of a guy in his underwear with brown skidmarks as an image for his Brown Ale, can you imagine a cava with a label like that? Me neither.
So returning to your question, the qualities that I think a designer should have to work in the craft beer sector is to empathize with the brand he works for. And not putting limits, there will always be people trying to do exactly that!
Ø: If you had to choose a job from your portfolio that you have particularly enjoyed, what would it be and why?
Albert: Ugh ... I'm very critical of my work. During the creation process, from the moment I start thinking about the idea until it comes into print, I may have rejected several proposals after having worked on them, some even for days! Sometimes I like my works, sometimes I don’t, depending on the day. Once the project is finished I try not to look at it again and if I happen to see it, I pretend it’s not there.
If I had to choose just one project, it might be the Medical Stout from La Calavera. With that project I actually ended up satisfied with the final result. And I still am!
Ø: Do you prefer to face the creative process alone, or as a team?
Albert: Hmm… Look, it depends. There are a lot of great people in this field and who you can always learn things from, so I’d say with a team. But it depends on the kind of people you have to work with, sometimes alone is better.
In this field there is also another factor to take into account, that designers always try to avoid: working with “ designer clients" who sit behind you making noises while you are on the computer. They always know everything and much better than you. It’s terrible, because you end up doing something that you do not really believe in, and regardless of how much as they pay you, what you really want is to finish and move on. To all the clients of the world, please stop doing that.
Ø: What brands and / or graphic designers in the craft beer world do you admire?
Albert: Let's see, so far the only person I have admired is Durruti. But to be honest there are a lot of people that I like, in the craft beer world, too! I think on a graphic level, the sector is healthy. There are brands that do a spectacular job.
I think La Pirata made a great choice in trusting Joan Negrescolor to redress their image, I've known him for a long time and he never ceases to surprise me with his creativity ... I think Acreb Studio is also doing a very good job with Garage. Ohmybeer also make a very powerful and very clean work. I also like the image of Partizan using the universe of Alec Doherty - this guy is a genius that does everything! -, and I’m totally in love with Wylam both on a graphic level, and their beers ...
Ø: Finally, can or bottle?
Albert: Well, at a graphic level, there is more room for creativity in a can. But in terms of personal preference, the answer is very simple: in a glass.