Saginaw Valley State University student Austin Hlinka, a thirdyear graphic design major, was named as the winner of a label design contest created for the Theodore Roethke Poetry and Arts Festival.
The contest was presented to SVSU Professor of Art J. Blake Johnson’s Art 260 class.
Hlinka, among more than 20 other students, was asked to design beer labels inspired by three of Theodore Roethke’s poems– “The Far Field,” “The Waking,” and “My Papa’s Waltz.”
The beers were crafted by Saginaw’s Oracle Brewing Company as onetime, limited-edition brews. They were introduced at the “Ted (Roethke) Talk and Brew” on March 19 as part of the Festival.
Hlinka received a $300 scholarship for his achievement. Scholarships were also awarded to two other students.
DeQuandre Johnson, a graphic design major, won a $200 scholarship and Karsyn Kasper, a graphic design major, received a $100 scholarship.
Hlinka was surprised by such a project, especially the fact that the winning design would be printed.
Knowing this made Hlinka work even harder to create a design that would be selected.
“I have never had a class where there was such an opportunity before, and I am very thankful for it,” he said.
Hlinka approached the project like he would in any design process by considering who and what the design was for.
Prior to starting the design process of the labels, Hlinka read all three of Roethke’s poems that were inspiring the beers for the festival.
“This project definitely had its challenges,” Hlinka said. “It was hard to think of a way to incorporate the topic of old poetry with a modern design of an alcoholic beverage. I wanted it to be done in a way that makes it feel like they belong together.”
Hlinka continued, “By creating a flat design style, specific colors and choice of type I was able to find the perfect blend of the two.”
“The Far Field” was a wild ale aged in French oak. The design of this can featured a red color scheme.
For “The Waking,” an IPA, Hlinka went with yellow as the main color.
“My Papa’s Waltz” was a bourbon barrel imperial stout with a design featuring the color orange.
Hlinka’s favorite of the three designs was “My Papa’s Waltz.” He liked the orange color and felt the design worked slightly better on the smaller 12 oz can.
While he enjoyed the entire design process, the best part for Hlinka was seeing the designs be printed on the physical cans.
“It really doesn’t do it justice until you see it in person,” he said.
Moving forward, Hlinka would love to do more work such as this and is open to the opportunities should they arise.
He also thinks it would be great if more classes offered similar design tasks.
“I would love to see more classes incorporate design challenges like this,” he said. “I think that it only makes students work harder and care more about their designs.”
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