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Tuesday, January 31st 2012

Q & A with Terry Kishiyama
(Oskar Blues Artist)

 Q & A with Terry Kishiyama (Oskar Blues Artist)


With the upcoming release of Deviant Dale's IPA, and this being the 10th Anniversary of Dale's Pale Ale in cans, we were interested in finding out more about Oskar Blues' as a brand. The artwork, the message and the theme. Perhaps you've noticed the initials "TK" on a can of Oskar Blues' beer, perhaps not, we honestly never did. They happen to stand for Terry Kishiyama. Terry is the graphic artist behind the branding that has helped Oskar Blues attain phenomenal growth in a very crowded craft beer industry. His imagery, can designs, and graphics are true works of art. We bombarded Terry with questions and he was gracious enough to answer all of them. Cheers Terry!


(CC) Can you give us a little background on yourself?


(TK) I have been practicing art most of my life, first award was 2nd place "Color Your Way to Disney", age 5, I won a Mickey Mouse watch and it made the newspaper in my home town - Scottsbluff, Nebraska, not too much goin on back then, worked as cartoonist at my high school newspaper and interned at small town papers in Nebraska during college- painted a ton in college, die the whole art major thing, sculpture, art history, building my own canvases and stretchers in the wood shop, never cut off any fingers, and after college, only art job I could score was as a signmaker for 3 years, making stuff, not really too creative, House For Sale By Owner signs and SALE banners....then moved to Colorado in Dec. 1999, experimented a lot with monotype printmaking and abstract sharpie art --while honing the graphic design and illustration skills at a printshop downtown on Pearl Street in Boulder called Eight Days a Week--created a lot of logos and marketing collateral, got my feet wet with brand identity and awareness.


(CC) When did you start working with Oskar Blues? 


(TK) Started in, i think about 2003 or so, with some early magazine ads, most of the stuff since, has had my hand in the artwork. There's posters and events, etc where I am not involved too much, but when it comes to the beer/brewery image, I'm in there. We do a lot of truck wraps, novelty posters, merchandise --we're always working on the next round of ideas, the standard let's put a logo in the middle of a t-shirt ideas are chock full, so expect to see more seasonal and out-of-the box ideas that represent the Colorado lifestyle, suited for the outdoor enthusiast, who likes to dance by the fire and bark at the moon over a cold can of beer.



(CC) Did you design the first Dale's Pale Ale can?


(TK) Not the very first it was more Eastery pastel colors - the first ad i ever created for Dale --was for Frontier Airlines Magazine, they were serving it aboard --and I just used a sharpie, like John Madden football style, it sort of set a funky edgy advertising concept that still remains in the ads today, but the packaging turned to a more symbolic color design, circa 50s (before Psychadelics) like old Oil Cans back in the day.

(CC) What were the initial design elements that Oskar Blues wanted to include in the first can?


(TK) It was like I said, the stripe down the middle of a football helmet and a retro idealogy with a throw-back feel, 2 or 3 spot color hand-made look and some Evel Knievel smothered on top....


(CC) How would you describe the graphic theme for the lineup of Oskar Blues' cans? What design qualities are similar across the styles?


(TK) If you take an image of all the cans -and turn em all black & White, and squint at them, they all look pretty similar, same bloodline, we have some USA stars / stripes and some Mountains & Sunrays thay symbolize the blue skies and hilly climbs in coloRADo...



(CC) What are the challenges you face when designing the artwork for a can of beer? 


(TK) The challenge is that I just found out this beer art needs to go to the Feds for approval this afternoon, so we can make it time to put some in cans before the event featured in the 200 posters we just put up.



(CC) How long does is it take to go from that first draft to the final product?


(TK) The first can of Dale's went on for quite a while, once we stamped that one--the others naturally fell in line, I think we did Gubna in 2 hours--the Dale's lasted a couple months, making mock-ups and bouncing the ball around between us--there's some quick ideas, that is kind of an inside joke between the Oskar Blues creative team, that can be --urban dictionary style, but occasionally they leak out in newspapers like The Onion, like our F!@# YOU IF YOU DON'T LIKE SANTA campagin.



(CC) What was it like holding that first can that you had designed?


(TK) Kinda sucked cause it was filled with sand, but was the first one I saw, part of a funktified display in Lyons on top of the flagstone on top of the taps upstairs--no seriously, it was great to see the real thing after that first production --our first Old Chub design was more complex with some "plaid" graphics, small and subtle -and orange and green and black and yella --after big success with the simplicity of the Dale's design, we made a quick adjustment with just Black and Green, and used the raw aluminum as an important part of the overall color and contrast.


(CC) What are some things people might not necessarily notice in the designs of the cans you've done?


(TK) Well where the fuck is Waldo man? Let's let the peeps stare into the hypnotic 4-Dimension Oskar Blues can and see for themselves.




some alternate Deviant Dale's can designs 


(CC) Deviant Dale's certainly plays off the original Dale's Pale Ale can and is described as something of a bigger version of the beer. What design work went into making the first 16 oz. can from OB stand out from it's smaller brethren. 


(TK) We thought about doin' something totally different with Deviant, a bigger can, some abstract renderings came up, with the new technology in can printing, ton of special features possible --my first concept, had FIRE involved, it was more Jackson Pollock Flames style--maybe it will show up in the future as a different elixir, but in the end, we stayed true to the brand recognition already developed with the other classic flavors.

(CC) The top of the can has the line "Let's sling a little mud, girl" - a line from the Widespread Panic song "Tall Boy". Whose idea was it to feature that on the can?


(TK) It was one of the first conversations I had with Chad (Melis) when the Deviant art concepts started, I said "Tall Boy, huh --Sippin' on a Tall Boy"- it was just a natural comparison with the WP song, I think we've both been to our fair share of shows, then some other lyrics popped in -- I actually thought the top said crawling through the darkness...but slinging mud means the same thing..just a reference to that feeling when a chorus comes in- the whole crowd sings it together, and feeling real gooood.


too bad this didn't end up being canned!


(CC) One of the images you shared with us was of a label design for "Honey Badger" Smoked Porter. What is the story behind that? 


(TK) It was a beer that was short-lived in the mass distribution idea, but I think they still make batches of it for the Tasty Weasel Taproom at the brewery--friggin deliciosa!! This is one good thing that came out out of the creative session to brand the beer, just messing around with the Macho Man Randy Savge holding a honey badger head....this is how we began the session to stay motivated and laugh a little.

(CC) Chad also mentioned you were in a band that is based in Lyons. What is the band called and where can people learn more about your music?


(TK) I play in a power trio called Interstate Stash Express, and side projects include Los Fear of Shrimp and working on a solo record, called TK THE GEMINI, there's actually 2 of us in the brain, but definitely a solo record. You can hear some online or better, come out to a show in Colorado - we play a fusion style with Rock, Blues, Americana & Experimental.



(CC) What does it feel like to see your art on a canvas that is so widely seen and enjoyed?


(TK) I'm stoked, with Oskar Blues, it's a simple message, we live in a sweet part of the world, with trails and creeks and landscape that takes your breath away --it's fun to try and create a brand image that eats and sleeps what it practices and preaches, like Chad- i talked to him yesterday and said what are you doin this weekend? He said, oh I gotta work, gotta drink beer, gotta race my bike--they had equal influence, but you know he ain't normal if he just wants to just drink beer and race his bike and not work...what the Oskar Blues brand is saying is that we can do it all, and that is our work.

Posted by Russ