F E AT U R E
“People told us that we were not
following any of the rules of branding.
But that was on purpose. We wanted to
minimalize the branding and champion
the artist. We both just really wanted to
create something that we were passionate
about and something we got excited about
Nearly seven years later, it’s fair to
say there was a method to their madness.
Within its first three years of operation,
Hamilton, Ont.-based Collective Arts
established itself as a top 10 craft brewer
on Ontario’s robust brewery scene. Its beer
and cocktail products are now available
throughout Canada, parts of the U.S.
(Boston, Chicago, Nashville, and New York,
to name a few), and as far away as Australia,
Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K.
While its beers have earned rave
reviews, its Collective Arts’ labels that have
been the real head-turners. Whether it’s
their Audio/Visual Lager, Life in the Clouds
IPA or another of the 12 core pours, the
colourful and one-of-a-kind designs have
helped make the company’s beers stand
out on increasingly crowded store shelves.
So, how do they decide what art goes
with which beer?
Typically, the company issues a call
for art through its website. That can garner
as many as 2,000 works of art from across
Canada and the rest of the world. A team
of volunteer curators then evaluates and
votes on each submission. Johnston, Russell
and their staff then allocate which piece of
art will adorn which beer.
Collective Arts also collaborates with a
number of hand-picked artists as part of its
resident artist program in which it works
with artists from some of the company’s
favourite cities in a more curated way.
In any given year, Collective Arts
will feature the works of as many as 250
different artists. The only requirement of
the artists is that their work has to show
the same kind of creativity as the recipe
crafted by brewmaster Ryan Morrow and
distiller Matt Howell.
“Many artists that we feature are
Canadian artists, but we don’t necessarily
have a quota meter in there,” Johnston
said, adding some artists come from as
far away as Spain and France. “It’s based
on the quality of the art that comes in, but
we definitely try to tie it in with where our
product has the loudest voice.”
Johnston acknowledges that it can be
a logistical nightmare at times changing
36 § POURED CANADA § www.poured.ca