Artist comes full circle to create label for hometown brewery

The worlds of art and craft beer often go seamlessly together, as craft breweries around the nation have embraced a more wide-ranging view of labeling and design for their products. San Diego has seen the artist’s hand touch a variety of labels, including Lost Abbey and Mikkeller.

Now a veteran San Diego brewery has joined forces with a hometown artist from Coronado for a release of cans sure to grab the attention of craft beer drinkers.

Kelcey Fisher, now a well-known artist in Los Angeles returns to his roots to collaborate with Coronado Brewing Company on their recent beer can labels. The first release, the Coco Chaos IPA, showcases Fisher’s trademark style of “controlled chaos.”

PACIFIC recently chatted with Fisher about the collaboration, his background as an artist, and coming home.

PACIFIC: How did you join forces with Coronado Brewing?

KELCEY FISHER: My dad is a retired commander and we moved around a lot, and he was hired in Coronado when I was in sixth grade. He won an opportunity to brew a beer at the (original) Coronado (Brewing) location, so I was very familiar. A bunch of my friends worked at the brewery. It’s a small town, and everyone knew each other there. I’ve done murals for Coronado High School, and I’ve worked on projects there. One of the owners of Coronado Brewing remembered my dad. It was incredible for this to happen in my hometown.

Did you know what the beer would specifically be before you designed the label?

Yes. I’ve been working on a style I call “controlled chaos” for the first release. I used this style with cream tone pastels and my usual color palate. I like to have a mix of cool and warm tones, and I keep it to max of three colors with black and white for a five-color pallet. I prefer working in uneven numbers on the amount of colors used.

How does it get from large scale artwork to a label?

Daniel Pressler, a childhood friend, is the graphic designer who designed most of the labels for the cans for Coronado Brewing Company. I do the painting and take a high res image, and I let Dan do his thing. He turns it into a proper label. 

Were you formally trained as an artist?

I ended up going to school for business and lacrosse. I got there, and after two years, I wasn’t in a good place. I realized I wanted to take a creative direction. I drove across country to LMU (Loyola Marymount University) and changed my major to graphic design.

What happened next?

I took on the event coordinator position for the lacrosse team, and I linked up with a bunch of kids who were trying to be club promoters. We got a gig at the Avalon, and Steve Aoki was playing. My buddy Kellen McGraw and I did a piece from one of his albums. We get to the event, and hang up the artwork, and I gave the security guard $20 to find out when Steve would be there. When he arrived, I began running through the rave crowd with the painting to give to Steve Aoki. And the next thing I know, I was on stage with him. Things took off from there.

Biggest influences in art? Keith Haring?

Yes, and M.C. Escher, he was my first art book, and Keith Haring was the first book I bought for myself. Also Patrick Nagel. I never want to be stagnate and do the same thing. I personally get bored, painting the same thing over and over. As I’m growing, my art is growing and evolving.

Why murals?

It kind of just happened. There is a particular rose, my dad has it tattooed on his chest, and I put up a painting of it in a salon on Rose Avenue (in Venice). Wilmer Valderrama from That 70’s Show bought it, and the salon wanted to make it permanent on the wall. The owner, Nik Rae Falco ended up getting it tattooed on her leg, and then I was asked to do my first exterior piece on Main Street, and murals blossomed from that.

Where else can San Diegans see your work?

At Coyote Ugly downtown, Sweetfin Poke at UTC, Coronado High School, I have one coming up in Coronado, and three more coming in San Diego. Follow @kfishla to find out more and see me painting live.

Favorite Coronado Brewing beer? And of all time?

Mermaid Red and Lagunitas Little Sumpin’

Are there more Coronado x KFish beers to come?

Yes, in June, September and December, and we will do them in different cities for launch. June will be in L.A., and the last will be back home in Coronado for the finale. We are structuring them around murals and openings I will be doing.

What would you like San Diegans to know about the art and beer collab?

None of this would have been possible without the community; Daniel, my manager; Justin McCormack for the details; and Zach Bell, my videographer. It was a group effort, and we were all present. It was a great collaboration with my hometown and childhood friends. A special thanks to Laura Hill, my favorite art teacher of all time and Jenny Moore, the principal at Coronado High School.

Coco Chaos IPA is now available in cans at Coronado Brewing Company.

Coronado Brewing Company

Locations: Morena,1205 Knoxville St., 619.275.2215; Coronado, 170 Orange Ave., 619.437.4452; Imperial Beach, 875 Seacoast Dr., 619.423.4900

Online: coronadobrewing.com

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