Are You A Graphic Artist? Want to design Beer Labels? Have I Got A Deal For You!

Here is the deal.  Yesterday I posted about an amazing Rye IPA that was brewed by this man.  This is a picture of Fred Colby the owner and Brewmaster of Laughing Dog Brewery.  As I said in my previous post, Fred is one of the nicest, most genuine people you would ever want to meet.  And I suspected he would see the post that I wrote about how he had a great beer,  Laughing Dog Brewing’s Rocket Dog Rye IPA, but the label that was put on it might actually be causing people to pass over his brew (Click here to see the Yesterday’s post for a view of the current label).  Well, Fred took that to heart and last night after reading the post and all the comments, he made this offer:

Guys and Gals I like all the comments!
Rocket Dog as the name must stay ( I originally wanted Red Rocket LOL)
I have a deal for all of you that are Graphic designers, come up with a great label design and submit it us, if you impress me and I change the label or if we use it on a new upcoming label I will use you to help design our labels going forward, deal? Let’s do this!


I know Fred is a man of his word, and if he makes an offer like this he means it.  This is an opportunity to get your designs seen by thousands, and who knows, someday millions of people.  So let’s have a little fun with this.  Let’s see how far and wide we can spread this offer.  Retweet it, post it to your facebook page, repost it on your own blog site, send it around via e-mail.  Let’s engage the full power of social media to get the word out and see if we can’t get some really amazing options for Fred to choose from.  This might just turn into something for the person that is selected.  Let’s all put on our designer hats or ship this offer off to others who have those skills.  Who knows, maybe my Brother Jim will submit something.  He is a pretty amazing artist…although he’ll never admit it.

Submit all entries to me at dcgalligan(AT)  I’ll make sure Fred gets them all.


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43 Comments on “Are You A Graphic Artist? Want to design Beer Labels? Have I Got A Deal For You!”

  1. March 9, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    Okay, I’ll admit it – I’m amazing! 🙂

    Kidding, but the chance to design a beer label sounds pretty cool. Maybe I’ll sharpen my pencils…

    • Don
      March 9, 2011 at 10:54 am #

      I think you should! Not kidding. 🙂

  2. March 9, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    I’m SOOOOO on this! It’s what I do for a living!

  3. March 9, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    how do we submit, btw?

    • Don
      March 9, 2011 at 10:58 am #

      Good question, Katie. Since I’m the trouble maker, why don’t you submit them to me and I will forward everything on to Fred. That way his email inbox doesn’t get all jammed up with a lot of potential gobledegook. I’ll put a link on the post.

      • March 9, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

        I fixed your email so you get less spam. Didn’t your mother ever tell you that you don’t take candy from strangers and you NEVER post your email on the Internet – the SPAM bots read it and then your account is forever choked with V1@gr@ offers (not that you’re not interested…)

  4. March 9, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    This is awesome that Fred would do something like this. I’m going on a week-long vacation in about 24 hours but I’m definitely taking a stab at this upon my return.

  5. Dave
    March 9, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    Hey Don, my wife has done some fun labels for my homebrews so she’ll definitely submit something. But I too am wondering how to submit. I didn’t see any “link on the post” yet, as you mentioned above.

    Keep up the good work Don and Jim, I really enjoy reading your blog.

    • Don
      March 9, 2011 at 11:07 am #

      It’s up there now Dave. Just send a PDF to my Gmail account as posted. I’ll forward everything on to Fred.

  6. Matt M
    March 9, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    It takes a lot of humility to read the comments and not only take the feedback to heart, but ask the community to come up with something better. Bravo to Fred. If his brew was in my area I’d pick some up just for how he handled this.

    • March 9, 2011 at 11:13 am #

      I couldn’t agree more. I feel like kind of a turd now for even saying anything about the design.

      • Matt
        March 9, 2011 at 11:18 am #

        I hear you, but remember he may not have received the feedback if not for Dons post. If a new label generates more sales then it was constructive criticism.

    • Don
      March 9, 2011 at 11:15 am #

      Fred is a great guy and sees the opportunity in everything, even a little “constructive criticism”. 😉

  7. March 9, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    As much fun as this would be, on principle I will not accept doing spec work (and as a professional designer yourself, Katie, nor should you). Designers need to be fairly compensated for their time, and doing work on spec cheapens our craft.

    Would you walk into restaurants and ask that meals be prepared for you, with the promise that if you like the dish you might go back and actually pay for a meal? Good luck with that. The AIGA position on spec work spells out these issues much better than I can:

    Sorry to rain on our craft-brew parade here, but this is important stuff.

    • March 9, 2011 at 11:20 am #

      While I appreciate your POV (I’m on board that you don’t give it away for free), I think you’re missing a key point here, Eric. Fred didn’t set out looking for a free label, he’s just trying to have some fun with the fact that folks don’t like the current one. I like his “if you can do better, go for it” approach on this. A fan art kind of thing.

      I’d agree with you if he launched a competition to redesign his logo for free or something, but this is his way of playing along with the craft beer community, and I think it’s neat.

    • Don
      March 9, 2011 at 11:22 am #

      Whatever Eric. Have you never seen a contest before? The Milwaukee Brewers do one every time they change their logo. I’m pretty sure doing a label design for a small brewer in Northern Idaho in a contest format isn’t going to take down the whole AGIA.

      • March 9, 2011 at 11:40 am #

        They need to go back to the MB glove permanently. I was 20 years old before I realized it wasn’t just a baseball and a glove… and I felt like the biggest moron in the world for spending 20 years of my life without seeing the “M” and the “B”. Hell, I even went to County Stadium 30 or more times as a kid and STILL didn’t realize what was going on with that logo.

      • Don
        March 9, 2011 at 11:45 am #

        Wow John…I don’t think I can help you. I was 12 when the changed from the block M to the glove MB, and I got it the first time I saw it. Perhaps their current logo with the big M is more your speed…jus Sayin

      • March 9, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

        I’ve had a lot of discussions with baseball fans through the years about this very subject. We’ve even joked about starting a support group for people that didn’t get the MB glove.

    • March 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

      I’ve been a designer for over 18 years, Eric, and this is not a matter of giving my art away….oftentimes, in any area of “art” be it graphic design, music, writing, etc. you have to prove your worth. It may not be optimal, but it’s reality. If spending a little free time doing what I love, and doing it for an industry I love earns me the chance to become part of a design team for a brewery and then get paid properly, why wouldn’t I do it, for fuck’s sake?! Take it from an old fart in the design business…..don’t take yourself so seriously… constipates you.

      • March 9, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

        I understand your position, Katie, and as an old fart myself, it’s taken me years to get to the point where I AM very wary of spec work, having spent countless hours in the ’90s doing work that ended up being used but which I was never paid for (much less credited for!). Now, like you, with almost two decades of professional design work under my belt, my “audition” years are behind me. “Hey client, take a look at my book; you know what you’re getting, and it’s worth paying for.”

        That said, in my follow-up comment to Jim and Don (below) I admitted that in this instance maybe I should loosen up a bit. And again — it’s each individual’s choice. In general, I come down with the rationale spelled out by the AIGA (which, if you haven’t read it, is worth reading).

        On a lighter note, perhaps our decisions should be guided by this chart:

        Cheers, all.

  8. March 9, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    Alright, alright… maybe I’m taking this a bit too seriously. Really, I’m not a curmudgeon! I would encourage you, however, to at least read the position against spec work that I linked to on the AIGA page to get a better understanding of the concerns.

    • Don
      March 9, 2011 at 11:32 am #

      Fair enough. We’ll leave it up and let people make up their own minds about whether or not to submit something. Thanks for your perspective.

      • March 9, 2011 at 11:38 am #

        I’ve thought about this more and I think you’re right, Eric. Fred, I insist upon a bottle of the product should I have the winning design. You’ve read the AIGA guidelines. It’s only fair. (wokka wokka)

        Seriously though, I’m a professional designer and I’d say that having my design(s) displayed on thousands of beer labels would:

        a) expand my portfolio, since the bulk of my work isn’t in that field
        b) be a pretty impressive resumé builder

        and I’d consider that more than fair compensation. To each their own and all that and I’m glad that the AIGA exists, but I wouldn’t have an ounce of concern about cheapening my profession by doing this (if my design would even be good enough to be chosen in the first place).

  9. March 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Don, I might know some interested designers. One in particular. But what’s the timeframe on this? When does Fred want submissions posted by? Designers are generally busy people. Having a submission date so they can work this in to their project workflow would be good.

    • Don
      March 9, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

      Lets say April 1.

  10. johnking82
    March 9, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    this is pretty cool…I hope your post the entries on the blog.

    • Don
      March 9, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

      Good idea, might be interesting. I’ll make sure I get permission tho.

  11. March 9, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    Sweet. I’m in. Plus, I used to be a senior designer from 2005-2008 at an agency in Seattle called RocketDog Communications! ( Stay tuned fort some mockups submitted to you. I am understanding of the free spec work argument, a great choice map for this can be found here: I am more than interested to submit designs if it means that I can get my hands dirty and make an entry into the brewing industry about which I am so passionate. Stay tuned!

    • Don
      March 9, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

      We look forward to it Tim. 🙂

  12. March 9, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    Also, if anyone is concerned about this being unpaid spec work, treat it as a pitch. Agencies and designers do this all the time. Just add some legal copy to your submission that states you as the designer retain all rights to the designs and intellectual property proposed until contractual agreements are made with the client and/or the designer is compensated for their work. As a matter of fact, I think the AIGA advises that freelance designers use some more lengthy and legal sounding version of what I just stated.

    • Don
      March 9, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

      We do this all the time in my line of work too Chad, although we call it a proposal. People need to understand your POV if you are to be selected, and this is how it is done.

      • March 9, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

        Don (and others), I’m not trying to beat the proverbial dead horse here, but there is a critical difference between spec work for design and “spec work” (as proposals or answers to RFPs) within other fields. It is this (and I quote from AIGA):

        “In certain design disciplines, such as architecture, advertising and broadcast design, business practices differ and professionals have been expected to participate in speculative work. This usually occurs in fields where the initial design is not the final product, but is followed by extended financial engagement to refine or execute a design. In communications design, this is often not the case. The design submitted “on spec” is all that the client is seeking.”

        In short, what is submitted is not a “pitch,” but rather the final product, after which the creator of that work (and all of the attendant hours logged in its creation) are either tossed aside or granted the *possibility* of compensation or further (presumably paid) work.

        I just think this difference is worth clarifying.

        • Don
          March 9, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

          Gotcha. 😉

      • Matt
        March 9, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

        I have to agree with Eric here on a pure basis, recognizing this particular request is more of a fun craft beer project. If Fred is looking for a brand designer and was simply asking for a sketch and perhaps examples of past work that’s one thing, but it takes a lot of effort to put out a high quality label as evidenced by Fred’s production label.

  13. March 11, 2011 at 3:46 pm #


    Any chance you or Fred will share the entries? This type of stuff is like a treasure trove for me. Great way for people to see all the different ways different people might approach representing a beer. For that matter, it’d be cool to hear about Fred’s selection process when he makes one.

    Not trying to encroach on your blog topic, just super excited about beer design getting a front row seat here!

    And seriously, Laughing Dog makes incredible beer.

    • Don
      March 11, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

      No worries Greg. I will most likely share them all, but I want to get permission from those who do submit. Also as right now I only have 2 designs. So hopefully others will begin to show up over the next couple of weeks. April 1 is the cut off. I’ll do a couple of reminder posts too.

      • March 11, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

        Sweet. I’ll shout it out as well over the next couple weeks for any designers that have found my corner of the blagoweb.

        Now if only we can get some of these whiskey distilleries to embrace better design, we’ll really be on our way!

        • Don
          March 11, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

          I likes Beam’s new Devil’s Cut Label, but most are pretty bad!

  14. March 21, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    Hey Don –
    Sketches are now in the books. I would have liked to done more, but you will definitely see 2 full color comps from me before your deadline! Stay tuned

    • Don
      March 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

      Great Tim, I look forward to them.

      • March 30, 2011 at 1:05 am #

        Hi Don –
        Just emailed the designs to your gmail address. Enjoy!

        • Don
          March 30, 2011 at 9:41 am #

          Thanks Tim. I’ll forward them onto Fred.

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