Know your audience

If you've worked in a bar you know there are different types of drinkers and it pays to read them properly. Do this well and it will result in deeper relationships, greater tips, and fewer lawsuits. I cast a light into the dark recesses of my brain and there, under layers of dust, I found my old classifications of drinkers. 

The Health Drinker - Steady retention, low monetization. 
The Social Drinker - Sporadic retention, good monetization.
The Problem Drinker - Low retention, low monetization. Trouble.
The Under-aged Drinker - Heavy retention, low monetization. 
The Alcoholic - Heavy retention, heavy monetization. Guilt.
The Binge Drinker - Low retention, heavy monetization.

Do these classifications relate to your audience? And does the way you relate to them change positively based on their motivations?


Consult the experts

I know you're probably amazing at whatever it is you do but I'm sure there are areas that are outside your depth of knowledge - areas where you aren't so amazing. No problem, that's why you have experts as friends, colleagues, and mentors. If you have the budget, hire them. If you don't have a budget, offer an exchange, or buy them dinner and drinks.

Consulting experts will get you to solutions faster and shorten your conversations with clients. That's more upside for you if you're working on a project or flat rate. If you work hourly it means moving to your next project sooner. 

Where do you lack expertise? Now, which of your friends and colleagues have the skills you lack? Reach out to them. Don't worry about being a pain in the ass, you'll return the favor at some point. That's cheaper than going to school or learning the hard way.

Stay loose, But not too loose

Sure, a drink or two helps relax inhibitions. That's why so many people rely on a drink to relax and be creative. Somewhere between tipsy and sloppy there is a relaxed zone of openness, socialiblity and creativity. But it's a fine line. Being relaxed is good. Being sloppy and unable to exercise good judgement? Not so good. You're not a monkey throwing feces at a wall and hoping it'll be art. You want quality ideas and the skills to present them well.

How do you find the creative fugue state without the vino or absinthe? Practice and many hours spent doing the thing you love. Don't worry about making something perfect. Just make something and learn from the experience. Stay relaxed. It’s proven that falling when drunk will result in fewer injuries than falling down sober. Make some mistakes and learn how to stay loose in the face of adversity. The thing you're making might become something unexpected, and better, if you let it breathe.

You need a wingman

As an artist you may know exactly what you want to say but you may not see your work clearly from inside the creative bubble. Whether you’re developing personal or commercial work one thing will be constant: your objectivity will probably suck.

That’s why you need a wingman. Someone to keep you honest, on-target and motivated. A friend, an art director, an editor, or colleague who knows what you’re trying to accomplish. What you see isn’t necessarily what anyone else sees and sometimes it helps to have someone to ask, “Are you drunk?”

Yes, even the best artists, writers, directors and dancers have agents, directors, and editors to help focus the message. To make something great even better. If you don't have a wingman, find one. Be critical of yourself but also invite focused criticism.

Why I love beer labels

I’m obsessed with beer and liquor packaging. I admit it and I do my best to share my obsession with the people around me.

A good label combines strong typography, illustration, and clear focus to communicate what the product is, to whom it’s speaking and what separates it from the competition. Not an easy task when a consumer is scanning a shelf of beer at the store. And that’s the thing: people don’t read, they scan. This is especially true in packaging but it applies across all media in varying degrees.

I also love book cover design for similar reasons but here’s the difference: a book cover describes the contents but a beer label describes both the contents AND me. As the craft beer market matures so does the packaging and the identity statements are becoming more nuanced and adventurous.

You'll make bad decisions

A friend once told me that he didn’t consider it a successful night of drinking unless he blacked out. He claimed to enjoy the game of piecing together what happened in the days following the blackout. This is extreme and suggests deeper issues but most of us have enjoyed a scaled back version of this scenario where a drink or two has led us to decisions and scenarios that we wouldn’t normally consider: the ill-advised trip to Taco Bell, the Walk of Shame and the hangovers.

We all have our stories and we all have had to deal with the consequences. That’s the lesson: Drunk or sober, you will make bad decisions in life and you need to deal with them. You’ll need to claim your mistakes, personal and professional, and continue moving forward. It’s counter-intuitive but embracing the bad calls will earn you respect and it's the only way to learn from your mistakes.

What drinking beer has taught me about design

A bottle of beer on a store shelf has one second to capture a buyer's eye and communicate why its better than the dozens of competing brands on the same shelf. A night with friends can bring surprises and you need to know how to roll with it. Falling when drunk, and relaxed, will result in fewer injuries than falling down sober. 

Want to learn about typography? Study beer, wine and liquor labels. Want to learn what motivates people? Watch them socialize over drinks. Want to learn the value of human kindness and see it repaid? Tip well.

So, with my tongue only half in-cheek I present a series of posts about what we can all learn by tipping back a cold one. The ancient Greeks knew the value of induced chaos and they had, arguably, more geniuses per square than any other culture throughout history. Let's learn from them. It'll be fun.