Saywells Design Co. Created Over 50 Labels For Pueblo Vida Brewing

by Casha Doemland on 03/07/2019 | 4 Minute Read

Founded by Linette Antillon and Kyle Jefferson, Pueblo Vida Brewing Co. is all about sustainability, community,  high-quality suds and embracing creativity as no two beer cans are ever quite the same.

This trend began a few years ago with their anniversary can Monswoon, designed by Ryan Trayte, founder of Saywells Design Co. Over the last two years, Trayte has singlehandedly helped Pueblo Vida release more than 50 individual designs for limited-edition craft beer runs, all of which are inspired by a love of history and the natural world.

Intrigued by the sheer amount creativity involved with producing that many designs over a short period of time, we spoke to Trayte to learn more about his design process and what it took to tell Pueblo Vida's brand story authentically.

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Walk us through the design process. How did you go from start to finish on this project?

The brewery is regularly experimenting, especially with the hops profile of IPAs.  So, as they're plotting these out, we begin brainstorming names or ideas that may stem from the name of the hops variety. For example, beers with Galaxy hops can have names like Cepheus Pale Ale, Andromeda IPA, and Cassiopeia Double IPA.

I'm given anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks to work on concepts, and the success of my first draft varies just as wildly. The timeline prevents me from trying any products before the work is submitted. Nonetheless, our collaborative process always yields something that feels right for what's inside the can.

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What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve and how did you accomplish it?

This is an ongoing, never-ending design series. As every can is purchased exclusively from the taproom, we have the luxury of bypassing traditional conventions for establishing brand consistency that you'd see at a bottle shop.

We pushed all the specs and logos to the back which left the front of the can wide open.  Our goal was to match the quality inside of the can and create repeated excitement in a crowded marketplace. Flagship products are great for companies, but growing a faithful consumer base out of experimentation and new iteration lead to real longevity.

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Let's dive into a couple of designs. What's the inspiration behind the Wunder designs?

Wunder is brewed in traditional German fashion, using German malts and hops. After we settled on the name, which just means 'wonder' in German,  I thought about what inspires me. I revel in the creations of past masters, and as an Arizonan, I've been surrounded by Frank Lloyd Wright's legacy most of my life. His beautiful stained glass designs are a direct inspiration for this can design.

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What about Mesto?

The name was again derived from the beer style: a Czech-style pilsner. We thought about the idea of transposing Pueblo Vida into different cultures and arrived at M?sto, which means 'Town' in Czech.

I dug into books and resources of old European design and got really attached to a certain era of ephemera—posters, matchbooks, leaflets. The constraints on color and production process yielded these gloriously simple illustrations that often looked misregistered or blotchy with ink, and I loved it. There are various Prague landmarks in this illustration, with the Prague Astronomical Clock making an appearance as an icon on the back.

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Why did you opt to create similar designs for Milk & Honey instead of creating unique, individual designs?

The brewers at Pueblo Vida coordinated these two beers as twins. They had the same recipe, but one was brewed with lactose and the other with honey. Early design concepts attempted honeycombs or words that stretched across both cans, but thankfully we landed on a classy pair of beer siblings with consistent intricate line work. There are a few groups of related cans that have similar recipes. It's fun to find a way to connect them without being too redundant.

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How did you manage to stay true to Pueblo Vida's brand through the various types of packaging?

That's the challenge: to shoot for consistency across deliberately ever-changing concepts. Each can tells a little story, with subtlety, nuance and abstraction. We've always sought to present something that feels unexpected for a beer can and hopefully gives the consumer a few extra moments to enjoy the full experience. Saywells Design has produced over 60 unique can designs, and the challenge to keep telling a new story becomes harder. But it also forces us to find new pathways and new manners of expression.

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How is every can an exploration of science or art history and why are those the two themes you choose to highlight?

The community of Pueblo Vida—and Tucson in general—tend to be very active and outdoorsy. We're surrounded by natural beauty, and we seek to highlight it often. Our inspiration also tends to stretch into things like weather, astronomy, music, and art. As a designer, I tend to be very nostalgic and have a high appreciation for the greats like Paul Rand, Erni Cabat, Erik Nitsche and Franco Grignani, along with all the forgotten ephemera designers of the past. So I enjoy finding ways to connect to these eras while infusing something contemporary on an atypical canvas.

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