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Meet the Artist: Sam Horvath
This week and next we’re getting to know the top six artists in the Beer is Culture art and design exhibition. Our first spotlight is on Sam Horvath, whose design is above. His entry encapsulates global culture in a single pint – an impressive achievement indeed. With classic wood grain echoing the Sixpoint tap handle and a tall glass of homebrew as an homage to Sixpoint’s roots, this photo shouts out Beer is Culture in style. We asked him a few questions, so read on to learn a bit about his methods, inspiration and ideology.
Tell us a little bit about your entry. What is the inspiration and story behind it?
When the contest was announced, I started emailing myself ideas as I had them. When I finally created the image of a pint glass with the countries of the world in the foam, I looked back through my inbox and it was actually the first idea I’d sent myself. Go with your gut, I guess.
As for where it came from, I felt strongly about including a photograph of an actual, poured beer. I’ve also always enjoyed hiding one image within another, or seeing something through negative space in an image, and thought about hiding something in the head of the beer. I took some inspiration from those amazing baristas who can create artwork on the top of your latte!
And I couldn’t resist photographing my own homebrew for the shot, so I can honestly say that I made everything in that design.
Do you have any academic or formal artistic training, or are you self-taught?
I took two drawing classes in high school, where I learned about layouts, the rule of 3, the play between light and dark, perspective, etc… And then I took a watercolors class my senior year at Penn State. Mostly because it was at 5:30pm on Mondays and Wednesdays and was my only class those days. But my Photoshop, Illustrator, and design experience is all self-taught. When I have an idea in my head of what I want, if I don’t know how to do it, I scour the internet for tutorials. Then it becomes another tool in my skill-set for future designs. There are some amazingly generous artists and illustrators out there eager to share what they know.
Even before civilization, there is evidence of cave paintings by early humans. Flash forward to today, when perhaps the most significant innovation and development for the artist in the past 30 years was the invention and proliferation of the personal computer, which has a remarkable efficiency in generating art. How does art generated by the artist on a computer relate to some of the more conventional art forms?
The computer is a fantastic tool. My entire image was created in Photoshop, so obviously I’m a proponent of using technology in the creation of art. But I think any designer/artist/illustrator will tell you that the skills or natural talent part of the art, the actual putting a pen to paper or mouse & keyboard to digital canvas, is a small part of it. 90% of the work is done at that point. Coming up with a simple, clever, and easily understandable image is the tough part. Then, it’s about taking the skills you have and finding the skills you need to make your idea tangible. For instance, I learned how to create the look of branded text specifically for this design, since I knew that was what I wanted on the table. It wasn’t a skill I had when I started, but it was something I could learn.
Who are some of the artists who have influenced you most?
Don Draper. But seriously, I have been really into the print and poster scene thanks to my friend Jeff. I’ve been particularly inspired on the design front by Olly Moss, an English Illustrator who does a lot of pop culture art. Movies, video games, tv shows. He creates really witty, simple, elegant designs that always drop my jaw. I also am constantly looking at ads for movies, tv shows, and plays on the subway, so I take a lot from that. I don’t know, van Gogh, I guess?
We believe “Beer is Culture” given the synchronized parallel between the explosion of civilization, art, and culture and the cultivation of cereal grains by the earliest human societies. When you hear the phrase “Beer is Culture” what does it mean to you?
To me it encapsulates the feeling of going out and having a beer with friends. Whether we go to see a concert or a comedy show, or if we go out to dinner and see a movie or a play, it’s about a group of people sharing their weeks, their ideas, something they read, or some experience with each other. I think it’s a great slogan in a broader sense, looking at history and the development of culture, but for me it also is true at the personal level. We do the things we do over a beer with friends. That’s culture!