Q&A with Tom Mac


Do you remember your first sip of beer?

I really don’t as I was pretty young, but I do remember the first time I drank a 4 pack of lager and chundered.

Do you work differently when designing for screen printing?

I put thought into colour separation and the amount of colours used, and making sure the layers of ink will sit well. A lot of my other work is very colour gradient heavy, so I always have to make that conscious separation between what is for screen, and what is for digital print.

Are their any beer labels out there, which you particularly like?

I enjoy vintage looking bottled beer label designs, there are a lot of pubs in London under the Samuel Smith name, and I’m always curious to try the different beers they have on offer based on the really old looking Victorian mix of type and floral patterns. Makes me feel like I’m tasting a beer that someone else was tasting in the same unchanged pub a hundred years back, even if its only been there for 10. That said I definitely get a lot of enjoyment out of modern label design like those from Ballistic Brewing, They nail a really fresh and up to date feel, but still keep a traditional structure.

What was your initial thought process behind your fictional beer label, did you have something already visually in mind or did the concept come first?

I wanted my beer to follow up on the enjoyment I get out of tradition, and feel as if it could have been chugged down for years. My love for dingy little pubs with open fires, full of dogs and where the locals have their own tankards hanging above the bar lead me to start visualising what I’d want to see sitting on the bar next to a dripping candle! Porter tastes like such an ancient brew, thick and strong, so I wanted to partner that up with a Medieval aesthetic and some Edwardian style typography to hopefully give a little feel of real history.

If you could drink one beer for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Harvey’s Bitter of Sussex, brewed in Lewes. It reminds me of home and you can’t find it anywhere else in the country.

Beer labels have a rich visual history, why do you think art and beer have co-existed for so long?

I guess with that its down to good old fashioned advertising. Good art always sells, and when your given a choice of which beer to taste when you’re feeling adventurous, for me its always the best looking bottle. That said, who doesn’t enjoy beer? So I’m assuming any decent artist throughout history has jumped at the opportunity to put his/her pen to a bottle!

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