Yes she can: inside the process of a beer can designer

Painter, graphic designer and mixed media artist Amy Corbett on the weird, wonderful world of designing beer cans for North Brewing Co.

Yes she can: inside the process of a beer can designer
meghan tansey whitton

Amy Corbett's been drinking North Brewing's beer since it was called Bridge Brewing. A graphic designer, web developer, art educator and abstract painter with 20 years of creating under her belt, she'd hustle to the Alderney Landing farmers' market to grab her swing-top bottles every Saturday. Her official collaboration with the brand started later when—in an effort to use local art on their labels—her neighbours, North's Peter Burbridge and Rozina Darvesh, used her paintings on labels for their Midnight barrel-aged Belgian, and the one-off Dark Sky dark Belgian. Now, her mixed-media style is becoming synonymous with a can of North beer.

"We try to follow the methodology that weird is wonderful," says the artist. "We usually start with a small brief which just includes the type of brew, the flavour profile, the ingredients and the name. I think it adds another creative element to it—you kind of have to translate those flavours visually."

Corbett's love of abstraction, texture and juxtaposition lead her to dig out a collection of old magazines while working on her first original design for the Soleil Saison, a look that's set the tone and colour palette for the brewery's latest labels. We asked about the brainstorms that brewed up these three designs.

Yes she can: inside the process of a beer can designer

1. Soleil Saison
"I knew that was a refreshing beer, a table beer. The design I wanted to evoke that feeling—how would that taste look? That's how I started. It had to be light and airy and I just thought, 'What's the best feeling? Sunshine on your face,'" says Corbett, who turned to vintage magazines she found at an antique shop in Hubbards years ago for inspiration. "I like to try and work with different moving parts. I like a lot of texture, I like the juxtaposition of something static versus something digital versus something tangible."

2. Into the Aether
The North team had medieval mystery in mind for this cocoa-vanilla-coconutty imperial stout—think "Dungeons and Dragons meets The Last Kingdom"—but Corbett went with something less literal. "What kind of things can I put together that shouldn't be together?" she remembers asking herself. "Instead of something in the sky that would fly, like a bird or a plane or a kite, think of the opposite of that. Water, or earth. I thought it would be cool to have something diving in there—I think I had a whale at some point. The synchronized swimmers were the last thing I'd tried."

3. Bloom A co-pro saison between North and Bishop's Cellar, Bloom inspired Corbett to make something simultaneously moody and cute. "I wanted to definitely have some floral elements in there but in a surrealism sort of way. I decided them coming out of a volcano might be a weird thing to do," says the artist, who incorporated needlework florals alongside the digital images. "And I used an actual photograph of a volcano and some surrounding greenery and just tried to play with texture and different lighting. There's some weird and wonderful things going on."

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