In the Can

The evolution of the country’s smartest beer labels is thanks to one designer.

In the Can

The evolution of the country’s smartest beer labels is thanks to one designer.

Campbell Hooper is a designer and director. He designed Sawmill Brewery’s original labels a few years back, and recently updated the designs: we’re rather taken with them. “It wasn’t a complete departure from the past,” he says, “more a doubling down on what had worked for us, and biffing the rest.” 


Tell us what you do and why you do it.

Factory Records designer Peter Saville said creatives can say they’re this or they’re that but in truth, you are what you spend your time on. So in light of that I guess I’m a father and a partner, a film director who makes commercials, music videos and in between I take on a few design and brand projects for clients that I really connect with. 


What makes a good beer label? 

Of course there are functional design issues around retail-focussed projects but I think what defines ‘good’ now is really about gradually finding your own voice and having the confidence to run with it. And that can take time. It should take time.  


You designed the original Sawmill labels a while back. What did you do?

There’s a strong craft beer cultural aesthetic that has carried over from a North American punk and indie poster tradition and that’s the go-to for a lot of breweries. I personally love that, but it wasn’t quite the right tone for the family at Sawmill. Over time we found the uber-minimalist type-focused bottles with intricate Arts-and-Craft inspired packs resonated with the team.


How did you approach it differently second time around?

What changed between the first and second rounds was the addition of about 50 more beers to the stable! In the original collection there were about five and each beer had its own bespoke typeface and colour. That clearly wasn’t going to work now, so much of the new approach was creating variations that could be repeated as efficiently as possible without morphing together and losing their individual personalities. 

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