Interview With An Artist: Jourdan Gullet
We’re starting a new tradition. Each year, BeerHoptacular will collaborate with a bad ass artist to design a bad ass, limited edition, one-of-a-kind tshirt. This year, we asked Solemn Oath’s Jourdan Gullett to work his mystical powers of unprecedented bad-assery to transform the BeerHoptacular “Barrel Guy” into something darker, stormier, and more… well, bad ass, than ever before.
Gullett is famous for the bold and captivating designs that have helped Solemn Oath’s labels to shine like beacons in an endless sea of beer aisle masterpieces. Intricate devil Vikings, smoky skeletal kings, and a variety of undead other-worldly creatures adorn their cans and bottles. Gullett’s skill translates past the realm of beer art; he also shares his talents with kids through a program called After School Matters designs rad skateboards, and a ton of other stuff. We’re not really sure when he sleeps.
We sat down with Jourdan to learn more about his creative process and his life as an artist. Behold! The master.
BeerHoptacular: What’s your process? What kinds of things do you work on?
Jordan Gullet: I work in layers. I’ll start with a sketch, turn that into a line drawing, and then I’ll do a final mockup. Then I’ll mock it up digitally and edit things so it’s more cohesive and finished.
BH: How did you approach this BeerHoptacular project?
JG: BeerHoptacular wanted something similar to what they’ve done in the past — they wanted “the Barrel Guy.” Also, they wanted me to do something in my style. So, I thought I’d do something a little less involved but a little bit more iconic so the style would translate the same way. I wanted people to recognize the Barrel Guy but say, “Oh, I think that guy from Solemn Oath might have drawn it.” That’s pretty much it.
Typically, I’ll research what a client is looking for, and then I’ll go from there. ButBeerHoptacular knows what work I’ve done and wanted the shirt design to be in my style, so I followed my same process, such as using smoke or playing with light or stuff like that. Sometimes I’ll flip things.
In post-physical drawing, I’ll go in digitally and edit the text to make it feel more like a part of the actual illustration. I’d make changes, boost the contrast, clean up line work, or erase things I couldn’t erase while drawing. That way, if the client does promo stuff, I can send files of the font that I made for the illustration.
BH: How would you describe your style?
JG: It’s definitely gotten darker. I went to school for watercolor. As soon as I started working for Solemn Oath, things started evolving. At one point, I introduced a drawing similar to the one on the BeerHoptacular t-shirt as the precursor to the painting and they were like, “No, that’s perfect, let’s just roll with that.” So, I’ve been building off of that style, pushing it, building it and finding new ways to develop it. The style’s a little bit darker; I don’t always have to draw dark stuff but it seems to just keep coming back to me. And I’m okay with that.
BH: How did you get hooked up with Solemn Oath?
JG: I actually went to college with a woman who worked at modeling agency. The brother of Solemn Oath’s owner also worked for that modeling agency. And, now I work full-time at Solemn Oath. I go out there pretty often, build concepts, ideas and execute them. And, I love beer. I love beer art. I appreciate the whole culture itself. It’s just a good overall scene. It’s rad. I wish I had more in-depth things to say.
BH: What is your background?
JG: Before I worked at the brewery, I taught high school kids how to make art in a program called After School Matters. That was where things started to change from my strict watercolor background to working with other materials and sticking to tight budgets. I had to get creative with to develop things with reused materials, or build stuff with plywood or whatever. I do get a little restless so I have to do a little here, then do something here, then go outside and work on my van. I’m totally scatterbrained but at the same time, there’s a balance to it. I try to do as much as I can where I can.
BH: What are you currently working on with After School Matters?
JG: This time it’s a screen-printing program. I’ve done mosaic, mural, furniture design, graphics design, and skateboard design classes. The screen-printing class is rad because I can say like, "Hey, put this element here, put the text there and think about symmetry, balance, contrast and try and tell a story in one image.” The students are like deer in headlights. I really like it, but when it’s over, I’m totally burnt out. 30 high school kids can wear you out. It’s cool but it’s hard