Creating art on a mug

HEINEKEN Malaysia recently unveiled five limited-edition designer mugs at the launch of The Great Brew Fest, which were intended to reflect the quality craftsmanship that goes into each Heineken brew.

The designers behind these brew-inspired creations were Kenji Chai, Cloakwork, Beautiful Machines featuring Sling, Lynda Chean, and Jarold Sng.

Kenji Chai for Tiger Beer

Hailing from Sabah, street artist Kenji has been doing graffiti for 12 years. His artwork shows an unmistakable influence of animals and the natural world – even his artistic alter ego, Chaigo, is inspired by dogs on the street.

It's no surprise, then, that when he found out he was designing the limited-release mug inspired by Tiger Beer, he knew nature had to play a role.

The metallic blue mug that bears his design shows the ferocious side-portrait of a tiger, with leaves drawn in place of its stripes.

He explained: “The leaves represent nature, and they're connected to the animals. Once the leaves are all gone, you would have killed their habitat so they have no place to stay, [and] you'd have also killed the tiger.

“It's also the fighting spirit of Tiger, [which is] to never give up [and] just keep pushing forward.”

Cloakwork for Apple Fox

Street artist Cloakwork's name stems from his elusive method of turning blank walls into works of art cloaked by the night sky.

The Kuala Lumpur artist's love of vibrant hues – an indication of his playful personality – is evident in his work adorning walls at urban locales both locally and internationally.

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After delving into the story of Apple Fox, Cloakwork, 27, came out with a design that merged his artistic streak and the cheeky essence of the brew.

He said: “Apple Fox for me is very cheeky, very sneaky – like a fox.

“I tried doing something playful [where] the fox is going into the apple yard, and tries to steal some apples to produce cider.

“Foxes are usually very short … [so] I tried to do something playful with the net … that the fox could use to reach [the] apples and take it.”

Beautiful Machines featuring Sling for Guinness Stout

Beautiful Machines comprises a group of passionate bike builders, which first started out in New Zealand.

Speaking on behalf of Sling, who was out of the country at the time of the interview, Beautiful Machine's Jeremy Leong said Sling came up with the design inspired by the brew's iconic Guinness toucan and harp markers, albeit with a fresher and youthful vibe.

He added that the design process is not unlike building and designing a motorcycle, where details play an integral aspect.

“Instead of going the nostalgic approach, we hand-drew the illustrations, giving [a] modern and organic touch to the design.”

The mug etched with Sling's design stands out with its dark colour, just like the drink it's inspired by – rich and bold.

Lynda Chean of Pink Tattoos for Paulaner

A graduate of advertising and graphic design, Lynda was actually a copywriter for a few years until she pursued her fascination for tattoos by setting up her own tattoo studio in 2009.

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Describing her style as detailed and whimsical, she thought working on a design for Paulaner “was a very good fit”, because “there's a lot of botanical elements [and] there's a lot of nature.

“Those are the things that inspire me to do my art … the story of how it was brewed”.

Her eye for detail gave the metallic orange mug a whimsical touch.

She said: “The whimsy part of it comes from looking like old storybook illustrations.

“I love to do little details [because] it really captures the characteristics of the plants.

“We also have the German beer girl who's very happy, standing in the sun with her hair blowing in the wind.

“You can see the wheat and the barley – the plants are all just blowing in the wind, so I think it gives you that feeling of summer.”

Jarold Sng for Kirin Ichiban

Jarold is a concept artist and designer who is into 3D software, like the digital sculpting and digital painting used in his artwork now.

According to Jarold, design has an “end function to it.

A big part of it is research and then creation, and then only the artwork – maybe like the last 20%”.

That's how he approached the mug design for Kirin Ichiban, a brew notable for its simplicity and quality, achieved through the first-press method.

For his mug design, Jarold looked to the East for inspiration.

The first thing that popped into his mind was the repetitive Japanese Asanoha pattern.

“I fell in love with it because the hexagonal pattern encompasses everything I feel that Japanese culture represents, which is simplicity, repetition, cleanliness, [and] control of the angles.”

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The pattern also represents his work usually revolving around “sci-fi pseudo-science and design”, where he associates the hexagonal pattern with the beer's chemistry structure.

“One thing I like about design is there is flat-out contrast between something that's geometric and something that's purely organic,” he said adding that the Kirin brand is an amalgamation of the two.

“That was how I wanted to approach it. I didn't really want to change anything to the Kirin logo – I think it's a piece of art on its own – I did just trace over the whole thing to just let my own mistakes go into it.”

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