Jonathan Case for Ex Novo Brewing Company

DESIGN WEEK ISN'T JUST sans-serif fonts and giant doors with no obvious handles—although there will probably be a lot of those. Nestled between wonky paeans to clean lines and Scandinavian wood paneling is a great opportunity to get your drink on while drawing on stuff with markers. The Baerlic Brewing Company-hosted "99 Bottles of Art on the Wall" event tasks participants with designing the next great beer label on blank 32-ounce growlers, with "Sharpie markers galore" provided. But while other alt-weeklies might be content to merely provide you with this information, we at the Mercury know you live your life by reality TV rules: You will not be there to make friends, you will be there to win.

To that end, I interviewed Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Jonathan Case (Batman '66, Green River Killer) and the Eisner-nominated writer and cartoonist Dylan Meconis (Family Man, Outfoxed) on winning strategies and potential pitfalls when it comes to combining text and images in a pleasing manner.

Case, who recently designed the label for Ex Novo's Dynamic Duo IPA, praises the virtues of individuality and lateral thinking. "The great thing about doing designs for microbrews is the freedom. When my dad saw the Dynamic Duo label, he said, 'That doesn't look like a beer label to me,'" Case tells me via email, "but that's sort of the point. It can be anything that grabs attention from the center of a four-by-six, or whatever canvas you have to use." Beyond that, his primary advice is to nail the fundamentals of good design: "A well-placed, legible font and some colors that contrast well with your bottle make for a good starting point."

Meconis, meanwhile, stresses the importance of appropriate typography. "Using fonts that have inappropriate mood connotations, like if you saw an ambulance and it had 'ambulance' written in Comic Sans. That's a mismatch," she says. In relation to beer labels, she notes that it comes down to making sure the mood you are trying to project with the label matches the beer contained within. "If you are say... selling a shandy, a light fruity shandy for summer, you probably don't want to use a really heavy German blackletter Fraktur font [a collection of hand-lettered German fonts] because people are going to look at that and think, 'Oh, this is a heavy old-style German beer, as opposed to this light frothy summer concoction,'" she says.

But even if you want to leave the drinking and drawing to the experts, you still have other beer-related options at Design Week. Over at "Oregon Brewpub Design: Taking Local National," Scott|Edwards Architecture's [SEA] Brian Mares and Jesse Graden will be giving a talk on brewery and brewpub design. James Lee, the marketing director of SEA, explains that their firm takes beer very seriously. "We actually have a homebrew team here at SEA that [Mares and Graden] are a part of," he says, adding that attendees can expect as much talk of beer as rafter angles at the presentation. "They draw a lot of parallels between actually brewing beer and designing the spaces the beer is brewed in, and [where] people enjoy the beer, and how that process works when designing nationally versus locally," he explains.

SEA is an architectural heavyweight, having designed both the Evergreen Aviation and the Sniff Dog Hotel, which is a literal hotel for dogs. If you're curious about the future of brewpub design or the chances of seeing a Lucky Lab at the Denver Airport in the next few years, this is an event not to miss.


99 Bottles of Art on the Wall
Baerlic Brewing Company, 2235 SE 11th, Thurs April 21, 7 pm, $5, 21+

Oregon Brewpub Design: Taking Local National
Scott|Edwards Architecture, 2525 E Burnside, Thurs April 21, 7 pm, $10