Advertising / Art & Design

Ruthless Rye

An odd contradiction in my behavior is that I dislike alcohol but love love love alcohol signage, labels, and advertising. I have several pint glasses, my favorite of which is Arrogant Bastard Ale. I’ve never even tried Arrogant Bastard Ale.

I’ve always tried to figure out why I adore the label but hate the contents. Well, I know why I hate the contents…the taste is awful. I’ve never developed a taste for alcohol. I have no moral objections to it, mind you. It’s just that I’d rather be drinking something far less disgusting.

Liking the labels, on the other hand, that’s trickier to understand. I think that it’s because alcohol doesn’t need to say anything on their packaging, and so they can say whatever they want. Granted, the old standards of Budweiser and Coors and what-have-you are some of the most boring designs ever, largely because they have to appeal to the broadest (subsequently most boring) audience. But wineries and microbreweries have the most awesome designs and names you could think of. Like this one I saw at World Market today:

Sierra Nevada's Ruthless Rye


Sierra Nevada is probably best known for their IPA, but this seasonal ale has an unspeakably incredible label. I am not even sure what makes it so exceptional in my mind. It is, after all, a woman on a farm. But somehow, a sense of desperation, even foreboding comes across. It’s ominous. Something very bad either happened, or is about to happen on that farm. You don’t even need the word “Ruthless” to feel it, but the design is so tightly rendered that no part of it is extraneous.

It’s a gorgeous label, and puts me further into the camp that advertising can be art as well.



One thought on “Ruthless Rye

  1. With you on this one; I don’t drink alcohol, but the artwork on some of the packaging and advertising is very impressive. There’s a heck of a collector’s market for that stuff as well.

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