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The story behind the design of our Oat-bituary beer with Northway Brewing Co.

Oat-bituary beer available for purchase at Northway Brewing Co.

By Angela Garrity, Guest blogger

Today is National Beer Can Appreciation Day and in celebration, we wanted to go straight to the source by summoning Thomas Dragonette, Senior Art Director of Death Wish Coffee Company, about how he conceptualized the designs for Oat-bituary, our newest collaboration with Northway Brewing Co.

A side-by-side photo of the front and back of black beer can white a white label that says "Oat-bituary" with a grim reaper on the front.

Q: Where did you "draw" the inspiration for Oat-bituary from?

A: From my brain mostly. We had a really fun session trying to think up fitting names for this beer and eventually landed on Oat-bituary, which is a playoff of the metal band Obituary

Once we dialed in on the name it was a pretty quick process. I wanted to bring Death Wish's aesthetics of strong, dark, and bold to a craft beer market that is mostly filled with fun and light labels. That is where incorporating the reaper, who is delivering the message of "death to weak beer" was born. In my mind, if this was going to be our first offering with a new beer maker, we had to kick in the door and be like “WE IN HERE!” 

Q: What was the most artistically challenging part of the design?

A: Time. It's always time. We have a super intense brand that is constantly creating and making new, innovative changes to the coffee industry, especially in the realm of creating a subculture and lifestyle brand inside an already crowded coffee market. Being the only full-time designer on staff (not for long, I'm excited to break the news that a super talented new dude will be joining the team very soon), the hardest part is always finding the time to create something that upholds our standards and gets the message across as plain and impactful as possible. Concepting the design in my brain is the easy part, making it come to life with a tiny window of opportunity is always a fun puzzle to try and solve. 

 Q: Can you speak to the graveyard above the SKU on the can? Is there a reason that was included?

A: Actually, Northway Brewery's designers added that. I did not include that in the original design, but I think they drew inspiration from the “Here lies weak beer” headstone and added it to the bar code.

Q: The Death Wish font that is used on the can is great and clearly shows a collaboration between Death Wish Coffee Company's branding and that of Northway Brewing, as they are different, yet balanced to the eye. Did you have to work on the font design for Death Wish separately after you saw Northway's branding for the can, so the two would be independent of each other, yet be in synchronization?

A: That is always a tough challenge, especially when the brand that we are collaborating with font's don't necessarily work well together. Luckily, Northway uses a san serif font that works really well with the hand styled serif font that we use on a lot of our stuff. The real challenge was stripping down their very colorful labels and making it a two-color can that upheld our branding but also represented Northway in a similar manner. We kept design elements that they use on most of their cans to keep that continuity for their customers.

Q: Is there anything special you'd like readers to know about designing Oat-bituary?

A: I'm not a beer drinker (come at me), so I had to smell and look at the beer to get an idea of the experience people would have when they poured a can of this into their mouth. I think the label does a pretty good job of letting you know what you are getting yourself into. This is not a light beer you are going to shotgun with the boys on a Sunday afternoon football party. 

In honor of Beer Can Appreciation Day, crack open a cold Oat-bituary and don’t forget to take a few minutes to appreciate the label, which has become as much as an art form as the beer itself.

Oat-bituary canned beer is available TODAY at Northway Brewing Company in Queensbury, New York. Oat-bituary will be available for purchase locally around the Capital Region area of New York — stay tuned for where you can buy it! 

Related: Learn about our Oat-bituary collaboration with Northway Brewing Co.

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