Employee Feature: Austin M.

Meet the face behind Aslan’s graphic design. Everything from our signature hophead logo, can labels, product photography, and oh so much more is thanks to this creative mastermind. Austin’s been working with us since the dawn of Aslan– before we ever opened up commercially.

Austin posing with some of his label art

One of Austin’s award winning label designs: Fish Have Feelings IPA

Through a mutual connection with one of the owners back in 2012, Austin was asked to design a logo for what would become Aslan Brewing Co. At first, he noted, he wasn’t all that sure about the idea. But once he met the rest of the team and was officially offered the job, he decided to give it a shot.

Fast forward to today– almost eight years later. Austin has worked as our in-house graphic designer and has completed over sixty can and bottle labels for us. Some of them even winning awards for their outstanding design concepts.

“If it’s not a graphic it almost always starts with a random photo” says Austin, speaking about his design process. “I walk around and take a lot of photos…..It’s been a really cool way for me to combine my two passions (photography and art) in a very unique way. And most of the time you won’t recognize the image that I started out with. [When I’m taking photos] I’ll find something I like, like the visual texture, and I know that it will be really visually stimulating or interesting to look at. Then I start manipulating the image and stacking things… playing with color… there’s never any real direction, it’s just very therapeutic. It’s really all about feel.”

Austin describes himself as a digital sculptor in this way- stacking and manipulating images to create a desired look. “If you watch me work it’s like sculpting more than anything else” he adds. “I know a lot of people with similar [art] styles call it ‘digital painting’, but painting is creating from scratch… What I’m doing is taking an image, laying it on top of another, and taking away the parts I don’t like [or emphasizing] the parts I do”.

The whole thing is a rather grand process.

One label project in particular Austin found particularly challenging– “The Disco Lemonade can… It’s probably my favorite, just because of how much thought I put into that.” What might seem like a fairly simple holographic label made to emulate a disco ball is actually the final product of a long, and regularly debated design concept that took over two years to fully materialize.

“There were [several] throw-away concepts for Disco. Everything I wanted to do, nobody had ever done before. And that’s when I knew I was onto something good… If nobody knows how to do it or has never done it, then I want to figure out how to do it.”

After experimenting with a few different mock-up designs, Austin recalled that none of the initial designs made the cut. “We knew it had to look like a disco ball” says Austin, “and nothing was coming close, so we gave up on the idea of canning it for a year or two because none of us were happy with the can design.”

The first Cosmic Dreams label

Sometime down the road, the first can of Cosmic Dreams was released– A label printed overtop some holographic material that Austin had not yet worked with. “I saw the holographic label and that blew my mind” states Austin, “my brain exploded with ideas”.

So back to the drawing board he went.

Austin then began experimenting with layering colors over top the holographic material. He figured out that different opacities of white would give him the effect he desired. He even implemented a special program to randomize the coloring of each individual cell to best emulate a true disco ball effect. “Every one of those cells on that can was treated differently”, adds Austin. “That’s why I love that project– because there was so much brainwork involved and the thought that went into it… the literal years I spent thinking about it”.

Now this can is seen on shelves all over the Pacific Northwest– famous for its striking disco ball appearance. The shiny labels are often seen stripped from their aluminum cans and repurposed into homemade stickers or, in one instance, used to decorate the entire frame of one woman’s bike for the Burning Man Festival.

“It’s a cool way to give people a little peek into my brain” says Austin, speaking about his artwork over the years. But his art only scratches the surface of his interests. “I’ve changed what I’ve wanted to do dramatically over the years”, says Austin, “I went from wanting to be a professional athlete to wanting to build drag cars… Then I was gonna be a marine biologist, which- I’m still really passionate about”.

He says that the ocean is one of his biggest passions and inspirations to his art. In particular, sea anemones. “I love flowers and photographing them… and I think maybe that’s why I like sea anemones so much. They’re like the flowers of the ocean.” In the future, Austin hopes to take diving lessons so that he can photograph these elements of inspiration underwater.

Beyond art, photography, and his other creative mediums- Austin has one true passion that he spoke about:

“Martial arts is my main passion”, he says. “Boxing, Muay Thai, all that stuff”. Pre-Covid times, Austin was actually training for his first big fight. Unfortunately, as the pandemic halted his practices, he was unable to compete. However, athletics have always been an important part of Austin’s life. Since growing up in Idaho and playing baseball his whole life, he has continued to stay active in his adult years- enjoying things such as skateboarding and running. “I’ve always viewed myself as an athlete more than anything else” he says, “Even more than being an artist”.

As the world starts to slowly re-open, Austin hopes to continue his martial arts training so that he can compete in his first fight. He also hopes to soon travel down to Mexico to fulfill a lifelong dream of traveling internationally and to learn how to scuba dive. While the future is pretty uncertain right now, we have to say we feel pretty lucky to have so much talent on our team. Austin, whatever you do next– we’re sure it’ll be awesome. Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to this team.

If you’d like to view more of Austin’s work, please visit his website here: http://www.astnmrtn.com/


Original Source Here

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