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Collective Arts Brewery launches fusion of art & beer

Posted by Ben Johnson / September 16, 2013

Collective Arts BrewerySeemingly perfectly timed with my newfound interest in the art on Toronto's beer labels, a new Ontario brewer, Collective Arts Brewery, officially launched last Thursday night, with a goal no less ambitious than "fusing the craft of brewing with the inspired talents of emerging and seasoned artists, musicians, poets, photographers & filmmakers."

How exactly founders Matt Johnston and Bob Russell are attempting to do this is by featuring the work of emerging artists on the labels of their beers.

Series one of their beer/arts collaboration will be plastered on their first beverage, Rhyme & Reason Extra Pale Ale, a 5.7% ABV American IPA flavoured with Citra, Centennial, Chinook and Simcoe hops. This first series will feature 90 artists on 90 different labels and includes visual art, short film, animation, and music videos.

Collective Arts BreweryHow do you get a music video on a beer label?

Well the founders of Collective Arts have partnered with Blippar, a smart phone app that will recognize the art on the label and take you to the corresponding video or information about the artists.

Johnston is an 11-year brewing industry veteran who's worked with breweries big and small, and is also the co-creator of Hop City Brewing Co. Co-Founder Russell is responsible for creating the brands for some of North America's leading breweries, perhaps unsurprisingly among them Hop City Brewing Co.

Taking on the role of "Brewmaster-in-Residence" for the company is Ryan Morrow, who is also a brewer at Nickel Brook and, if the title seems a bit odd, it's likely because it's a hint at the company's loftier and more geographically diverse goals. Johnston tells me that the plan is to expand the brewery to a handful of locations and tap other brewers to take on the beer making duties — something like an extension of the company's creative and unique business model.

Collective Arts BreweryFor the time being they're brewing their beers out of Nickel Brook's facilities, but expansion is already on their minds and the goal is to expand and collaborate with brewers in BC by as early as the summer of 2014.

Rhyme & Reason Extra Pale Ale will be available this month at select LCBO locations and is currently available in Toronto at The Rhino, Barhop, barVolo, WVRST, Thirsty and Miserable, and the Mugshot Tavern

To submit your art for a chance of gracing your very own beer label (not to mention pocket a righteous $200 in the process), you can visit Collective Arts' website here.

Ben Johnson also writes about beer over on Ben's Beer Blog. You can follow him on Twitter @Ben_T_Johnson .

Photos by Justin da Silva



Dave / September 16, 2013 at 08:52 am
$200.00 plus "promotion" and "exposure" is awful, awful compensation for something like this.
MoLow / September 16, 2013 at 09:05 am
Agree with Dave 100%. Everyone wants you to design or illustrate for them pro bono, because you'll get "promotion" and "exposure". NOT FAIR. Although, I would like to drink the cat and the mermaid.
Rick / September 16, 2013 at 09:11 am
Seriously? Do you think the artists involved are incapable of making a decision for themselves? Perhaps if they're fine with being featured on a beer label for $200, we all could be too.
Dave replying to a comment from Rick / September 16, 2013 at 10:37 am
The artists are entirely capable of making a decision for themselves, yes - but $200.00 is an extremely low valuation for their work. What's more troubling is that it devalues the work of the rest of us who are trying to scrape by in the creative field.

The offer of "great exposure" is, in really blunt terms, absolute shit. There's no way that the folks at Collective Arts brewing are going to tirelessly promote each and every artist they feature - that's not their job. They're brewers. It'll be handed off to a web designer (who is probably being compensated fairly for his.her work), where it'll be turned into a JPEG which gathers virtual dust in a corner of their website.

An easy way to understand this would be if I were to walk into a bike store, and offer to purchase a bike for the promise of "great exposure!" to the store/manufacturer. I'd be laughed out of the store pretty quickly.

So, no. I'm not fine with this.
Ben S / September 16, 2013 at 11:37 am
Shameful business strategy. Buy our beer because it has cool art work from local artists on it, but we keep the money.
Bruce Mandrake / September 16, 2013 at 01:24 pm
$200 is loads of money for an artist. Enough for them to get out and get a real job.

Leftie commies.
seanm replying to a comment from Dave / September 16, 2013 at 10:14 pm
You come off a bit entitled here. It's a free market, and if an artist is willing to sell his/her label artwork for $200 then so be it; perhaps the issue is that you're overvaluing your work. Wake up calls can hurt, but there's a bit of an oversupply in the creative field.
ecoke4lyfe replying to a comment from Dave / September 16, 2013 at 10:38 pm
This is an upstart brewing company with virtually no profit margins or business yet, and you're trying to tell them to pay more to 90 different artists? To do that, they'd have to lower the total number of artists they hire... which defeats the entire purpose of their brewery. A company like this just simply doesn't have the money to pay them any more. What would you like them to do instead? Buy a stake in the company? That'd be worth even less...

Exposure on it's own is worth something too. Ask any aspiring journalist or writer. They don't expect to make money from what they do for at least five years
Josh / September 16, 2013 at 10:54 pm
Who cares whats on the label? Sure I like a nice design, but ultimately I,m drinking a beer then it goes back in the case to return. I want a good tasting, good priced beer... I'm not paying for the artwork....
seanm / September 16, 2013 at 11:11 pm
Additionally, the whole bike cost comparison doesn't hold any salt in this case. A bike's price is based on covering the much more significant (and relatively constant) costs of engineering, manufacturing, shipping, and retailing of said bike. Very little of these costs apply to non-sculptural art.

Yes, stationery and post-processed software is expensive, but it's still a pittance compared to the manufacturing equipment required to build even the cheapest bicycle.
seanm / September 16, 2013 at 11:12 pm
*Post-processing. BlogTO really needs an edit function.
D3-2000 replying to a comment from seanm / September 16, 2013 at 11:24 pm
Post apocalyptic processing. Ready to Terminate.
D4-2000 replying to a comment from seanm / September 16, 2013 at 11:26 pm
Holding Pattern Initiated.
nn / February 15, 2014 at 01:58 pm
I wonder how much a graphic designer at other breweries makes. I think it would be much, much more than whatever $200 a design works out to. That's embarrassing for this company.
Todd / October 3, 2014 at 11:48 am
As one of the artists featured in the photo I would like to chime in.
Nobody doing this was under any assumption that it was a career making move. We did it because we wanted to and thought it was a cool, fun idea that resulted in our artwork being featured on a nationally marked beer label and the 200$ was simply a bonus.
Collective Arts didn't buy the artwork, nor do they own any rights to the artwork.
As for the dongs who said artist should get a real job, or are overvaluing their work... imagine your world without artists now imagine a world without you... I will take the latter.
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