If there’s one thing for sure, beer labels and the artwork behind them are just as crucial as the beer itself. It’s a representation of the liquid within, and truly, needs to catch the beer drinkers eye, since there is so much competition on the shelves!
Meet Monica Zoet, the mastermind behind the clever, hand-painted labels at Hop Farm Brewing in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
ML: Thanks so much for doing this, Monica! Before we get started, what beer are you drinking?
MZ: I’m drinking A Very Merry Un-Birthday from Hop Farm! It’s a Berliner Weisse with hibiscus, rosehips, raspberries and blackberries and is so so good! It was my first label!
ML: Cool! So, tell us about yourself! Hobbies, family, what you do for fun, etc!
MZ: I am an artist… always have been, not sure where it came from, but I always feel most myself when I am creating something. When I am not painting or sketching, I am playing with my two kiddos and many pets or getting lost in the woods looking for peace and inspiration. I love to kayak, hike, garden, read and listen to music in the sun, cruise in my ‘66 Mustang, really anything I can do to be outdoors!
ML: Where did you get your training from? What did you do professionally up until now?
MZ: I went to college at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for Animation. After graduating I decided to stay in Pittsburgh which didn’t offer many jobs in animation so, I went back to painting and sketching. I started my freelance painting work as Ikaros Art (named after my family heritage) just to get my creativity into the world anyway possible. Then I took time to be Mom, which was the best! Now that the kids are both in school, I am able to pursue my passion of art yet again and still have time to play and focus on my kids.
ML: How did you get hooked up with doing Hop Farm’s beer labels? How long have you been with them? Have you done beer labels before?
MZ: I met the guys at Hop Farm while using the upstairs comedy club to paint backdrops for a photo shoot. I offered to paint a mural for the brewery as a thank you for the awesome space to paint and Matt asked me about designing a beer label instead. I was so pumped especially because the first label was “A Very Merry Un-birthday” and I am a huge Alice in Wonderland fan. That was in February of 2021 and it has been the most amazing creative experience ever since! I have kinda adopted them as my second family.
ML: Where do you draw inspiration from when it comes to designing the beer labels?
MZ: No one particular place, I love to draw inspiration from everywhere. I am a very observant person so I am always taking in things to create from later. Matt, Malcolm, and Tom from Hop Farm are great at inspiring me too. They are very creative themselves and always willing to teach me about the brewing process for getting my creative juices flowing.
ML: Aside from Hop Farm, of course, what is your favorite brewery in Pittsburgh? Why?
MZ: Wow that feels like a loaded question…haha. I really enjoy going and experiencing all the breweries in Pittsburgh. I love a great outdoor space and also live music. But every brewery has its own unique feature and I love to support them all. The craft brewery community is just incredible. I am so glad to have found my place in this amazing, supportive, creative industry. But of course Hop Farm will always have my heart!
ML: Aside from making art for beer labels, what other medium’s do you commonly work with? What is your most favorite?
MZ: I love to paint on reclaimed wood, (I am kind of a hippy and want to do my part to save the world haha), I have found a love of painting on terra cotta pots as well as shoes (vans, toms, converse), I paint murals, and even car parts and guitars. Really anything I can get my hands on I will paint. Sketching and drawing are my other favorite mediums, I always have a sketchbook and pencil with me because you never know when inspiration will strike.
ML: Are any of your works up around the city? Where can we find them?
MZ: Definitely get to Hop Farm and enjoy a beer with my art on the label! I have a mural in the USC library, paintings at the Pittsburgh Botanic Gardens, murals in local homes, and definitely check out my website ikarosart.com or instagram @ikaros_art_pgh