The art of the beer label

 

Sean Dominguez is a surfer and artist, not a man of the cloth. Yet, for the past 13 years, he's been a faithful devotee of The Lost Abbey.

At this San Marcos brewery, the 49-year-old artist creates labels with images drawn from Bible stories and the history of Christianity.

 

PACIFIC: You've been a painter for about 30 years. Did your work always have religious overtones?
SEAN DOMINGUEZ: My style is kinda all over the place. When I started with Pizza Port, I turned out kinda cartoony, kitschy art. But when (founder and head of brewing operations) Tomme Arthur started Lost Abbey, he wanted something more biblical. So this took me out of my box. I had never done that style before.

How did you switch gears and capture the Lost Abbey ethos?
I come from a long line of artists. My grandma is an artist, my mother is an artist. Actually, my dad is not bad. My grandmother had given me a book of the painter Titian, and a lot of his paintings have to do with aspects of the Bible. And Tomme gave me direction.

What's the process you use to come up with a new label?
Tomme usually has an idea and he'll put it in words. We'll go back and forth, and I'll make some chicken-scratch rough drafts, getting the perspective and composition, see how the subject is coming on. Then we'll have meetings and look at them. After that, I work on the colors. Finally, I apply everything to a canvas.

What medium do you work in?
Mostly acrylics, but I have used other mediums - pastel chalks, watercolors, pen and ink, charcoal.

What's been your favorite label?
I really like My Black Parade (a bourbon barrel-aged strong dark ale). That has more of a Dia de los Muertos theme, and it's kind of a cool one.

Your most challenging label?
Amorosa (Framboise de Amorosa, a sour raspberry ale). This is one of my bigger paintings - the original is at least 5 feet wide by 3 feet tall. There's a woman lying on the bed, and at first she was 

What's the process you use to come up with a new label?
Tomme usually has an idea and he'll put it in words. We'll go back and forth, and I'll make some chicken-scratch rough drafts, getting the perspective and composition, see how the subject is coming on. Then we'll have meetings and look at them. After that, I work on the colors. Finally, I apply everything to a canvas.

What medium do you work in?
Mostly acrylics, but I have used other mediums - pastel chalks, watercolors, pen and ink, charcoal.

What's been your favorite label?
I really like My Black Parade (a bourbon barrel-aged strong dark ale). That has more of a Dia de los Muertos theme, and it's kind of a cool one.

Your most challenging label?
Amorosa (Framboise de Amorosa, a sour raspberry ale). This is one of my bigger paintings - the original is at least 5 feet wide by 3 feet tall. There's a woman lying on the bed, and at first she was naked. Then we had to put clothes on her - the government says you can't put a naked woman on a label.

Didn't you have another label that caused an uproar?
Witch's Wit (a Belgian-style wit, whose label shows a woman burning at the stake). In 2010, we heard from some witches who were offended by the label. It started a firestorm, people saying you can't do that. But we also heard from other witches backing it, saying it reflected a time in history.

What happened?
We decided to keep the label regardless. And it actually got us publicity, more recognition in the United States. This is a seasonal beer, it only comes out at the end of summer for a couple of months. By then, it was already done for the year, but people kept trying to order it: "I want that beer right now!"

 

Let's Go to the Hops

Aug. 18-19: Stone Brewing's two-day 21st anniversary party begins with a 6 p.m. Friday brewers' reception featuring unlimited beer pours and food ($85). Saturday's festival has two sessions, 1 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m., each with unlimited splashes of 100-plus beers from 50 breweries ($55-70).

California State University San Marcos: 333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd., San Marcos, stonebrewing.com

Aug. 19: Classic cars, vintage motorcycles, live rockabilly music, '40s pinup fashions and fresh beer share the stage at Legacy Brewing Co.'s second annual "Pistons, Pinups & Beer" event. Free admission. 1 to 7 p.m.

Legacy Brewing Co: 363 Airport Rd., Oceanside, 760.705.3221, legacybrewingco.com

 

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