Ohio University Grad Brings Beer Labels To Life

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Beer labels are a form of art. And Trevor Carmick is bringing that art to life.

The 28-year-old Ohio University graduate launched the website Beer Labels in Motion earlier this year and his passion has catapulted him to instant fame among brewers and beer drinkers.

He even earned a spot on Time magazine’s list of the top 25 best bloggers of the year.

Each week, Carmick takes a beer label and animates it.

The ship on the bottle of Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald is no longer just stagnant. It crashes through the waves with lightning popping off in the dark sky above.

The two owls on Cahoots Double Rye India Pale Ale clink their beer mugs. And the shark on Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA swims around in a pint glass.

“I got the idea after seeing a collection of cinemagraphs where Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head was brewing beer using strawberries,” said Carmick, a video editor who grew up in Maryland and now lives in Boston. “The images were still frames except for isolated parts. It was mesmerizing to watch these frozen pictures in time but appear to have come alive. And most importantly to me, they looped forever and you couldn’t tell where it started or stopped.”

He figured he could do the same thing with beer labels. But it’s not as easy as he first thought.

“I probably spend five to six hours on each one, depending on how detailed I get,” Carmick said. “I’ll keep adding and adding detail, fine-tuning the loop, until it is perfect. I always want my animations to loop and keep the viewer staring at them and lose track of time.”

His website has received more than 10,000 hits a week, he said.

The first animation he put together was Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project’s Jack D’or. It shows the moustached Jack D’or — Pretty Things’ mascot along the lines of Mickey Mouse — wobbling back and forth.

It’s been a big hit with Pretty Things, a small brewery in Somerville, Mass.

“It’s insanely cool,” brewer and owner Dann Paquette said. “I didn’t think that sort of thing was possible.”

Carmick should be getting paid for his work, Paquette said, adding that he planned on giving him some money.

“There’s so much overly serious gobbledegook in the beer world right now and it’s nice to have someone doing something that’s actually fun,” Paquette said.

Carmick said his favorite animation is The Alchemist Heady Topper, which features a continuously exploding head.

With each animation, he writes a short reflection on the beer.

His comment on Edmund Fitzgerald: “One of my favorite porters of all time, Edmund Fitzgerald by Great Lakes Brewing Company. This beer taught me that beer is more than just Bud Light and Miller Lite.”

Great Lakes also enjoyed the animation.

"The animation made its rounds through our office, and our Facebook fans and Twitter followers were excited to pass it around," brewery spokeswoman Marissa DeSantis said. "We’re flattered that the artist chose one of our beers for this project. It’s amazing to see the ship come to life." 

Carmick focuses only on craft beers.

“So far I’ve selected the beers because I’ve personally enjoyed them and their labels would be fun to animate,” he said. “I’ve stuck exclusively to craft beer. You’ll never see a Blue Moon label come to life on my blog. I don’t want to animate a beer unless I can taste it and write a little something personal about it. I think that’s what makes it personal. …

"So far everyone, from brewers to drinkers, has really loved my animations. I’m still shocked it became so popular.”

Used with permission from Rick Armon and Ohio.com's Beer blog.