There are several homebrewers with websites and social media presences tat you could be forgiven for thinking were actual breweries. They have consistent branding, packaging and an amazing looking logo.
Caitlin Wippel is the designer behind Aithon Creative and many of the pro-looking home breweries out there. You can see her logo work at @beerpeoplemn, @greycat_brewing, @machetebrewing, the logo and packaging for @barley_pop_brewing and @wildtacomaartisanales.
She has also done the logo work for noted craft maltster Sugar Creek Malt Company as well as the logo and packaging for Figurehead Brewing in Seattle. She does non-beer related work too – like the branding for Taco Boss’ “Boss Sauce”.
In full disclosure, Caitlin also designed the logo for Craft Malt Box, the Club’s sister project last year. This post is in no way sponsored or an affiliate arrangement. I have seen firsthand how Caitlin can take a few vague notions and flood of half-formed ideas and come up with something fantastic. And can’t wait to share her work with you.
Hop: Can you give us a little background on you?
Aithon: I used to be a dog groomer before I became a stay at home mom. I feel very fortunate that I also get to design in my free time. We move around a lot. My husband is in the US Coast Guard and is currently stationed in Ketchikan, Alaska but I’ve also lived in Maine, Florida, Virginia, and Washington.
This is one reason I’ve come to love the home brewing and craft beer community. Meeting another person in this hobby gives you an immediate connection and makes you feel like you are talking to an old friend. We have met some really amazing people over the years through brewing and it always makes moving away that much harder. And yet, a year down the road, you can meet up again and it feels like you are picking up right where you left off.
Hop: How did you first get interested in art?
Aithon: In my teenage years, I did a lot of written role-play online. Basically, writing short stories back and forth with other people. This got me into character design. I started off making photo manipulations in photoshop to resembles characters and scenes to go with the stories. Though I’ve always loved to doodle and was in awe of what people have and could create.
Hop: When did you start designing logos?
Aithon: I received a scholarship in high school and had interest in zoology. Though I was already engaged to my husband at the time who was headed off to bootcamp so I knew I needed something a bit more versatile. My background with photoshop is what led me to choose design. Ultimately, I wound up dog grooming shortly after anyway. I’ve puttered on it for years but design has always taken a backseat in my life until recently.
Hop: Is there a story behind your business name? If so, what is it?
Aithon: I have an interest in Greek mythology and horses. Aithon is one of the immortal horses that belong to the Greek god of war, Ares.
Hop: How do you work? Is there one media do you prefer and how did you come to use it as your primary one?
Aithon: I use either Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop depending on what the project requires. I also have a graphic tablet that I use to draw with.
Hop: In addition to work for homebrewers, you’ve done the packaging for several commercial releases. How did that come about?
Aithon: We were lucky enough to brew with Figurehead Brewing Co. when we lived near Seattle. I’ve been working with them ever since. If you are ever in the area, you need to check them out! Amazing brewery filled with awesome people and great beer. Other than that, Instagram is what has really been helping me expand and get my name out there.
Hop: What influences you as an artist?
Aithon: I have always been most excited for anything related to nature or fantasy. I am also a huge Halloween fan so anything dark is also a great muse.
Hop: Is there a process you go through or exercise that you follow when coming up with designs?
Aithon: For home brewing logos in particular, I’ve found that many people have an idea for what they are looking for. If not, I usually sketch up a few concepts to discuss before deciding on a final direction. Sometimes the collaboration between me and my client that stems from the concept sketches leads to the best of ideas.
Hop: Any advice for someone looking to have a logo created? Is there a point in time that’s too early for someone to reach out?
Aithon: No, it is always nice to have a discussion early in the game! Especially just so you know how the process goes and what is included. I also send out a design questionnaire so that is something that can be worked on until you are ready to start the design process.
Hop: When not doing design work, what do you like to do?
Aithon: Brewing, hiking, and cooking. I also love horseback riding but that hobby is on hold until we move back down to the lower 48. I am big into other fermentations besides brewing as well. Mainly sourdough and kombucha but I also make other foods like yogurt, kefir, fermented veggies, sour cream, mozzarella, etc. Sourdough is my biggest hobby at the moment. I make everything from pasta to breads and desserts with it.
Hop: Tell me more about your sourdough cultures- where did you source them and learn to bake with them?
Aithon: Her name is Bianca Jr. She is about a year old. I have managed to kill many starters over the years either by dropping their container or starting the oven with them inside. But the great part is that it only takes a bit of flour, water, and time start a new one. I learned how to make sourdough by reading online and through trial and error.
Hop: Have you ever used spent grains in your baking? If so, how did it go?
Aithon: Yes! It came out well but we prefer to feed our spent grains to chickens now. I have a flour mill so I mainly bake with fresh milled white wheat, spelt, or kamut (a type of wheat also sometimes called Khorasan after a region in Afghanistan). Sometimes I will sprout and dehydrate the berries before milling. Long fermented sourdough kamut waffles are one of my favorites!
Feeding spent grain to cows and chickens. Image courtesy Aithon Creative.
Hop: How did you get into craft beer?
Aithon: I bought my husband a brewing kit years ago when we first started getting into craft beer. Little did I know it would ultimately take over our lives.
Hop: Now that brewing has taken over a good portion of your life, would you still have purchased the homebrew kit? Would you have purchased it sooner?
Aithon: If I could go back, I wouldn’t have purchased that kit. But only because I would have gone with a more legit setup. You know, for cost efficiency and stuff.
Hop: I know you occasionally brew as well, what style or styles do you like to brew?
Aithon: I love sours. We’ve experimented with capturing wild cultures and harvesting dregs from bottles but usually if I am brewing myself it’ll be a kettle sour.
Hop: When did you start brewing?
Aithon: I usually brew with my husband but I didn’t start having an interest in solo brewing until about 2 and a half years ago. Mainly to prove to myself that I know all the steps and I also wanted to start entering women only competitions.
Hop: Do you remember what it was that got you interested in brewing yourself?
Aithon: My passion for scratch cooking. There is something special about sitting down to a meal that you made from the bare minimum.
Hop: Do you have a favorite hop? If so, what makes it special?
Aithon: Oddly enough, not really. We always seem to have a freezer full of vacuumed sealed hops that I can shop from. Aside from the annoying part of sorting through them all, it is quite fantastic having that assortment to pick and choose from. Though I had never given my favorite much thought. I think that doing a series of SMaSH brews would be a cool experiment to find my own.
Hop: Where can people follow your work?