Schlafly Batch No. 40004

Schlafly Batch No. 40004 Design Process

Over the last few months I had the chance to watch a beer come to life. I was invited to participate in Schlafly’s annual Artist Series release where their brewers work in tandem with a local artist to develop, name, and package a beer from scratch.

In our first meeting the brewers led the conversation talking about ideas they had been wanting to try and thinking about what might make a good fit for the Artist Series beer. We knew it would be a late spring/early summer release so it made sense to think about lighter flavors that would be good to drink outside in the sunshine. Also, because it would be a one time event beer it made sense to try something a little outside the box. As the brewers were discussing different extracts and obscure processes somebody joked that it was a bit like listening to a bunch of alchemists compare notes which became our first design direction.

I went home and started compiling mood boards and making some early sketches taking a lot of inspiration from astrology charts, cabinets of curiosities and old medical diagrams. When the design team  (Sarah Frost a designer for Schlafly, Will Rogers the brand manager and I) met again we all agreed that we were excited about this vibe and that it left a lot of room for creating fun imagery for the label and eventually a cool interactive exhibit at the Art Oustide event where the beer would premiere. We still didn’t know exactly what the beer would be or what it would be called though.

The next time we all sat down the brewers had done some experiments and narrowed in on a direction. It would be a golden ale with ginger and lime extracts which they would then age with chips from bourbon barrels giving the beer a hint of bourbon flavor. So basically it was Schlafly’s take on a Kentucky Mule. Initially we in the design group thought we were going back to square one, since bourbon and the Kentucky mule cocktail come with a pretty established set of visual references. We started thinking about cocktails or western motifs, smugglers, saloons etc but it all felt pretty straightforward and nobody was as excited as we had been with the alchemist/ witchdoctor vibe.

At that point we realized that we might find something new by combining the two concepts and so was born Dr Kentucky: the mysterious potion maker with the head of a mule. I thought it would be fun to pull the color scheme directly from the recipe and so we wound up with gold, green, and dark brown palate signifying ginger, lime and bourbon. We thought about giving the beer a purposely wordy title harkening back to advertisements for dubious medical tonics and cure-alls. we settled on “Dr. Kentucky’s concoction from his curious cabinet. Batch No. 40004”. The number is the zip code of the county in kentucky where bourbon is made.

With all of this in mind I went back and created some more detailed sketches taking the idea for the character and trying to put it in the context of a label.

We agreed that the sketch with multiple hands and a flaming cauldron was the best fit for the mail label and I went ahead with turning that sketch into a finished design. My first version used a hand drawn symmetrical 40004 which was cool but competed for attention with the illustration. I swapped that out with a blocky type version.

Once this main label was locked in it was time to move on to the rest of the bottle. I came up with some diagrams/runes that illustrate the basic ingredients in beer and in the Kentucky mule. We came up with a long-winded description description trying to reference the style of early medical elixirs and traveling snake-oil salesman.

Once our final beer design was in I put together a poster to show Dr. Kentucky’s cabinet of curiosities. These will be available at the art outside event along with a variety of other mysterious prizes.
It was an absolute pleasure to work with the team at Schlafly throughout this process. They trusted me and gave me a lot of leeway to push things as far as possible, always contributing ideas to make the final product better.

The beer will be hitting shelves around St Louis this week and it’s really, really (really) good. It brings together a lot of different flavors with a really light touch and it’s surprisingly refreshing. I’m not just saying that because I have to. There is a lightness about it that is a little bit like ginger beer or even Kombucha, but combined with a really solid golden ale flavor. I plan to enjoy plenty of it this summer. Hopefully you will too! thanks for reading.


Read more →

STL Hats!


For better or worse I’m a hat person. For years I’ve wanted to produce my own hats and I’ve finally made it happen! These feature a unique STL monogram on a 100% wool hat from Ebbets Field Flannels. The hats are one size fits all with an real leather strap and are made in the USA.

Along with my buddy Andrew Warshauer I’ve set up a simple pre-order site here. they are selling for $40 during pre-order but that will increase once we have the full stock in hand. Take a look!


Read more →

Fox Trap

fox trap mockup small

I’ve always hoped i’d get the chance to design some beer packaging but have never gotten the opportunity. A couple of months ago I finally just decided to make some for myself and started sketching, and many weeks later I finally had a free moment to put this all together.

The concept was inspired by a stressful period a couple of years ago where a bunch of neighborhood cats started turning up dead. It left a strong impression.

Anyway, If you are a beer-making sort of person and think you might like something like this get in touch and let’s work together!


Read more →

Portfolio Day

Final poster pink

I was excited to get the opportunity to illustrate the posters for this year’s National Portfolio Day events hosted my my alma mater the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University. These are events where high school students show up with their work and meet with admissions reps (like my awesome friend Elizabeth who set me up with this great gig!). I remember showing up to one of these warily some time in 2007 or so, and getting to work on the poster feels like coming full circle. The layout was done (very nicely) by Laura Burns. Thanks for looking!

final poster blue


Read more →


CUP 360

A few months ago I got an exciting call to contribute to a new line of packaging for Chipotle. Jonathan Safran-Foer was curating a series of short stories and essays to be printed on cups and bags, and each piece would be illustrated. I was given a story by Malcolm Gladwell about an experience with Old Order Mennonites .


After a little bit of back and forth we settled on this sketch, focusing on the barn-raising. final art_NM
A full color version I worked up before the decision came out that the cups would be brown and white.


And the final piece! Read the full story and check out the rest of the pieces here!

Read more →

Santiago Berneabau

BerniephotoHappy New Year! Here is a fun little thing that i got to work on for the latest issue of Howler. As you can probably tell it’s a folding paper model of Real Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Berneabau. Designing it was a fun challenge and unlike anything that i’ve done before.

Working with Howler has been an absolute pleasure. It’s a young magazine and they are extremely open to doing cool unusual stuff. This project, like many of the things I’ve made for them was my own idea. As an illustrator i’m unfortunately often at the end of the line creatively, and many people come to me with already formed ideas that they would like me to execute. This is of course fine and i’m grateful i get to do it, but it’s a real treat to be able to come up with something myself and see it all the way to fruition which Howler has been allowing me to do. The fact that the subject matter, soccer, is something I love makes it all the sweeter.

Also, on another note. I’m going to try to post here more often this year. Recently i’ve been taking on some larger scale projects which i’m not allowed to share until completion, if at all, which leaves me with little to post. I’m going to try to post some more personal work, get back to sharing sketchbook stuff and hopefully come up with some process posts and things of the like. If there is anything that you would be interested to see or read about please let me know!


Read more →

Paginated Post

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exerci tation ullamcorper suscipit lobortis nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis autem vel eum iriure dolor in hendrerit in vulputate velit esse molestie consequat, vel illum dolore eu feugiat nulla facilisis at vero eros et accumsan et iusto odio dignissim qui blandit praesent luptatum zzril delenit augue duis.

Read more →

A Regular Post

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec iaculis metus vitae ligula elementum ut luctus lorem facilisis. Sed non leo nisl, ac euismod nisi. Aenean augue dolor, facilisis id fringilla ut, tempus vitae nibh. Nullam nec diam risus. Donec laoreet ultricies rhoncus. Aliquam adipiscing. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.

Read more →

I am packed (always be knolling)

Iampacked is this neat blog where people document everything that they are bringing with them on trips. I think it’s interesting because you get to imagine all these little stories based on the items that people present, and it also winds up being a neat take on a style blog. I’ve wanted to make an illustrated contribution for a while. I submitted this the other day and I have no idea whether they will post it or not since it’s not a photograph but it was fun to make anyway. And remember: Always be knolling.


Read more →