the blur between


Tag: jason byron nelson

Flying Tiger Brewery

So for a long time now, I’ve been working on a commercial project, an ongoing project that I wasn’t including on this blog. In fact, that project was keeping me off this blog due to the secrecy of it. Secret because I didn’t want to reveal the designs until the company had a chance to do it first. Well now the work is everywhere so finally, here I am to talk about it and show off some of the work. It’s for Flying Tiger Brewery in Monroe, LA. I designed their logo, their beer cans, and some social media and swag along the way.

By the way, nowhere in this long post am i going into any detail about what a flying tiger is or was, or what historical significance the plane and the pilots hold – suffice it to say, they made a difference and one outstanding man has ties to the region where the brewery is located, hence the name – alas, this isn’t a history blog. If you want more insight, there’s wikipedia.

The logo. Here’s the original “approved” logo…


The shark-mouth-circle, based upon the traditional flying tiger nose design, was supposed to go along with the word mark as a secondary image to make up the logo.


It’s a cool, little illustration and while we still use it here and there (shirts, hats), it ended up not being the final logo. Nope, the final logo happened as I was designing a possible sticker or coaster to add to their collection of goods. But once the powers-that-be saw it, they preferred it over mr. shark mouth and the rest is history. And here we are…


See how the propeller cuts into the red circle? Originally it cut into the letters too but that just didn’t translate well. Also, the original design had blasts of fire near the 2 guns (barely visible) on the wings, but somewhere along the way those were removed. But the real meat of this project is the can designs. I had never designed anything for cans before and began the project without realizing there are certain limitations within the medium. Which is a good thing, limitations are anti-creative.

I knew i wanted to give the cans some common elements other than colors so the stripes were implemented early on; they changed shape and color a time or two but remained until the very end. Also, from nearly the very beginning, I thought of using different “characters” to represent different beer styles/flavors. And while this idea also stood the test of time, the characters themselves changed radically.

The following are a few preliminary attempts/roughs, including the original sketch for Mr. Heroic Hops himself when he was single (and also before he grew his exquisite facial hair). While we figured out what look we wanted to give the cans, things naturally evolved and developed, essentially creating the look of the company. Enjoy.


One of my favorite flavors to work on was the Burma Blonde. But while i was figuring out the look, somewhere along the way i should’ve zigged instead of zagged or something and i produced this homely specimen:


Yea, i’m not sure what happened there. But then when i was finding my footing again, i over-rotated and went a little too far on the sex-appeal meter. Exhibit A:


I like her.

But they thought her face was a little too cartoony. And when compared to the other designs, it is. So you’ll see below that her look is a little more realistic and her shirt is a little less revealing.

I want to mention the dots real quick. I was using dots, or a halftone pattern, or both, a lot on the first designs. It reminded me of old news print, which i thought reflected the era i was going for somehow – but due to color limitations, those were eventually lost.


Above is the final burma blonde design in all her glory, with her Indian motorcycle and white as a ghost complexion (color limitations and all, i’m hoping to add a little pigment once we put her on a shirt).

And here are the other two:



And here’s the Nitro Bomb Milk, along with the illustration before all the bells and whistles were added:




The nitro bomb has yet to actually be printed (and it may not as a nitrogenized beer is hard to replicate in a can i’m told) which is why the design looks so much different than the other three. I never got to the point of finalizing it for the manufacture’s specifications.

There’s also a fifth design that i’m very proud of featuring a tank. I’m not including it here because it’s yet to be printed. Hopefully it will see the light of day because next to the nitro design, it’s my favorite.

Now that i understand the methodology a little better regarding ink on cans, i would probably do things a little differently. But with that said, i’m very happy with the outcome. And luckily, the beer is fantastic. It would suck to have my designs on a product i didn’t care for. If you’re in the Monroe area, check out the brewery. I can’t recommend the nitro bomb enough… so good.

And i would be remiss not to thank Rob Brewer and James Simpson for coming to me with this project in the first place. Thanks guys. You have a stellar product, I hope you enjoy the designs as much as i enjoy the beer… probably depends on how many i’ve had… moving on.

On a side note, because i feel the need to mention it – there are several band posters that follow this post -I did those when i just needed to take a mental break from the Flying Tiger stuff. If you feel the need to continue reading after all this, you’ll see them below. I designed each of those with some rules in place – the first being that i had to use the same color scheme, and the second is that i only gave myself an hour for each. Why rules? I don’t know. Maybe i liked the challenge. Maybe i’m lazy and an hour was all i was willing to give to a non-paying project. Do we have to question everything?

Thanks for reading.















Suicide Squad

It’s been a long time since i’ve last posted and a lot has changed regarding my creative pursuits since then. Some ideas i’ve scrapped due to lack of sustaining interest or time – others i’m still toying with. Freelance pays the bills but sure does eat into studio time. Speaking of, I’ve been working steady on some beer packaging that i’ll be posting in the coming months. But in the meantime… I wanted to share this:


I’m excited about this film and was looking for an opportunity to do an illustration without any limitations or compromise – meaning i was my own boss on this one. Something just to show off my particular skill set.  So I went through the trailers, frame by frame, and pulled images that i laid out in photoshop before taking it into illustrator.  The only prerequisite was that i wanted it to be a spot color job that could be easily screen printed (y’never know).

And just in case i’m getting ahead of myself and there are some readers who have no idea what they’re looking at  – It’s from an upcoming movie entitled Suicide Squad – A super hero flick with less emphasis on “hero.”

Here’s a detail:


Thanks for reading. – jbn


Say I Won’t

Hey kids. My studio life is not a constant thing. Due to my schedule, my life, my varied interests, i’m not always painting. In fact, sometimes i don’t even have a studio. When i’m not painting, i don’t rent the space. If I’m going to spend a year working on a book, as i did last year – then i don’t spend the money renting a space i know i won’t be using. Anyway, my point is, since getting back into the studio around April of this year, I haven’t really felt that thing. That thing that normally fuels my need for a creative outlet in the first place. Whatever that thing is. I’ve done 4 paintings since April and while i’ve liked them all, some more than others, i’ve yet to get into a groove this time. Each painting i’ve done looks nothing like the one that came before it. And while i’ve long accepted that i’m not a “series” artist, I’d still like it if my style would find some consistency. This new painting, which i think i finished last night, feels right. It was very experimental in how it came to be; while i had an endgame in mind, it took a lot of playing with controlled (happy) accidents to get me there. I enjoy painting the most when i’m not sure how to get to point B and i’m just throwing paint at the canvas… sometimes quite literally. I also like using a variety of mediums. If you’ve read this blog before, you may already know that i use wood stain a lot, mixed with my acrylics and spray paint. But lately, I’ve been using chalk, charcoal and pastels for my line work on top of the paint – which has been a success… i think. This painting has it all. And I’ve also been working bigger than i ever have before. This painting and my last one are both 4 feet, square. A fun size, although more fitting for museums than someone’s living room – which poses a problem when trying to sell the work… oh well. So here it is. It’s called “The ‘Say I Won’t’ Mask.”


Interestingly enough, while i finally feel like i may be hitting my stride – i’m about to attempt a series (I know) on local fire escapes. Don’t ask. Hopefully i’ll be posting those soon enough and you can see what i’m talking about. It will be a completely different direction. Because that’s what i do – i hit my stride only to change direction for no apparent reason. Artists. Am i right?

Anyhoo, about the painting. I hope you dig it. I dig it. I can see a lot of my influences in it from other artists like David Choe & Bask (2 artists worth looking up if you’re not familiar) as well as an overdue union of things i’ve been doing separately – like the use of text with a less controlled method of color application. There was a time when i hardly ever used brushes, everything was spray paint, while lately i rarely touch a can other than the stenciled letters and a few experiments under the surface. Here’s a detail:


A little blurry. Sorry. But gives you an idea of some of the little details within the piece. The above detail shot is probably around 80% from actual size. That’s Hot Stuff on her shoulder there. There’s also a Tex Avery inspired wolf in the upper left that you might could make out on the first photo. And there are a couple other things scattered about.

So that’s that. Not sure when i’ll post again. Starting on this fire escape thing next. I’ll hopefully be showing this painting at a gallery soon. Per usual, everything is for sale – if anyone’s interested, shouldn’t be that hard to track me down. Thanks for reading. – jbn