My first piece of 2023 was Old 121 Light & Dark Lagers, but the story of how these pieces came to be starts in summer of 2022. I had been selling my art at Gum Pop Presents events for a few months now and making decent sales. One day one the organizers comes by my tent and tells me of an opportunity.
On September 17th, they are holding an 80s BeerFest. Usually they do not let artists in because it's really supposed to be for breweries, cideries, and distilleries. However, because of the alcohol forward themes in my art, I would be a great fit. I agree; this event would be perfect.
I contact the main organizer... and get rejected. They still want to hold to their drinks only vendor policy, but I didn't give up. I try multiple times over email and in person, making my case for join the market. Finally after my 4th or so try they agree. I'm in.
I set up my booth. One of my next door booth mates is a Hard kombucha maker. The others, the new owners of Old 121 Brewhouse.
We exchange information. I follow up a few times, but eventually lose contact. Then one day in December, I get a message from the head of front of house Noah. They need a featured artist for January. I sign up.
I meet Noah down in Lakewood and discuss the details. I agree to do a piece just for them and hang my art for the month. While there I sample many of their beers and have trouble deciding whether to feature their flagship "Old 121 Lager" or their "Dark Lager," so I choose both.
Both their light and dark lagers are very approachable. The light Old 121 Lager is there to convince you Bud and Coors Light diehard that beer can be better than that. The Dark Lager is very smooth with a light finished that doesn't make you feel like you drank a fist full of bread. Since Old 121 is named after the road Wadsworth 121, I went with a 1950s theme. It's no secret that the 1950s was obsessed with car culture. I also decided to draw my characters in more of an early 2000s cartoon style that was popular on Cartoon Network/Nickelodeon/Disney Channel. Doing so was a lot of fun. I'll probably continue to experiment and refine this style going forward.
I guess the moral of the story is don't give up trying until you have proper reason to. Had I given up on joining the BeerFest or contact Old 121, I would have never gotten to drawn this piece.