Episode 022: Teaming Up with Local Artists to Create Labels of Art
Mike Brenner is a one-of-a-kind brewer as he takes brewing as seriously as he takes supporting Milwaukee’s local art scene. In opening Brenner Brewing in 2014, the brewery became the first of its kind to open in Milwaukee in 17 years. Brenner’s tap room houses 21 art studios and 2 art galleries to boot.
Mike obtained his MBA from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and went into his studies with the intent of opening Brenner Brewing Company. In doing so, he was able to dovetail his assignments and projects to aid in the eventual opening of the brewery. For example, for his final project he had to devise a business plan for the brewery and design the logo.
Symbiosis with Artists
The heart of Brenner Brewing’s marketing strategy stems from Mike’s unyielding love for the arts and Milwaukee. His goal in opening Brenner Brewing was to support local artists by, you guessed it, selling beer. The brewery features 20,000 square feet of space that houses art studios and two galleries.
Each label is created by a Milwaukee artist and features a QR code that links you to a page with the beer and more information about the artist.
Each label artist is highlighted for two months at a time. During this period, the artist exhibits their work at the brewery’s gallery and can promote and sell their work to thirsty patrons.
Label Design Process
Mike’s ideal way of developing labels is to find some art in the wild, hunt down the artist, and then pair their work with a beer that complements the artist’s style. He doesn’t want to make an artist feel as though they are some kind of corporate client. The relationship should feel more like a cross promotion, one where the artist is paid well and has royalties negotiated. From time to time, like with Bacon Bomb, Brenner already has a beer and has to seek out a more defined style and artist to make their label. For this label James Demski’s style fit with the vision Mike had for this beer.
In the case of City Fox Pale Ale, Mike found an excellent wall mural while driving by a skate shop one day. After contacting the store owner, he was able to track down the artist, Erin Paisley, who ended up designing the label.
Notable Quote from the Interview
“I like to think of every 12oz bottle of our beer is like a 12oz ambassador for Milwaukee. And so what we do is every label is a work of art that is from a Milwaukee artist.”