Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tara McPherson Dogfish Head Brewery Art Work

It's been a rock 'n' roll relationship from the get-go.

In 2005, Dogfish Head began working on the world's strongest fruit beer. Fort clocked in at a bold 18% ABV, but thanks to a ton of raspberries, it had a sweet side, too, and Dogfish founder Sam Calagione wanted a label that told the whole story.

He found the answer on a poster for one of his favorite bands.

"The first thing I saw of Tara McPherson's was a gig poster for The Melvins," says Sam. "It was awesome, and I immediately tracked her down and asked her to do our Fort label."

Tara, dubbed the "crown princess of poster art" by Elle magazine, was game. She played with Fort's balance between strength and sweetness.

"I tried to imply the simple fact that it's a really strong raspberry beer," Tara says. "Having her blowing the raspberries was cute and whimsical. And with the lettering and the background image -- she's standing in front of a fort -- you had that play of strong and sweet, like the beer."

The New York pop surrealist then did the label for Chateau Jiahu, and now -- following in the footsteps of Marq Spusta and Dave Plunkert -- Tara's been tapped to do Dogfish's seasonal posters for 2012.

"I just think her artwork looks yummy," says Sam. "It's bright and playful and adventurous and totally unique -- all ideals we aspire to at Dogfish."

For the seasonals, Tara has painted four portraits in her signature style, one each for Aprihop, Festina Peche, Punkin Ale and Chicory Stout.

"I wanted to do something elegant and refined," she says. "I painted them, instead of doing them as poster art. That definitely changed the amount of detail I could put into them."

Tara, who got her break as an intern on Matt Groening's "Futurama," has explored people and their odd ways since art school in California.

These days, with a new Brooklyn art boutique, a full travel schedule and a long list of clients -- DC Comics, Warner Bros., Nike, Death Cab for Cutie and Spin among them -- Tara needs to be choosy about the projects she takes on.

"If it's something I'm not interested in, I have no problem saying no," she says. "In the case with Sam, I love working with him and Dogfish. He always has really great ideas and wonderful suggestions, and the projects are fun."

Posters and postcards of Tara's portraits will be released as each beer hits shelves and taps. They'll be available at the Dogfish Head brewery in Milton, Del., at their brewpub in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and on their website.

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