La La Land was a concept brand, a new start and a perfect opportunity for us. The client wanted the brand to be inspired by Alice in Wonderland, have a Spanish twist and an element of Surrealism. The client had seen some of our previous work and knew that we were the perfect fit.
The target audience was young, so the labels needed to be vibrant and fun, but the client also appreciated our detailed, almost classical illustration style which simultaneously gave the artwork a lot of soul and integrity.
For us this was a dream project – it was an exciting brief, the client had come to us because they liked our work
and we were given complete creative freedom.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND
It had been some years since watching an Alice in Wonderland film or reading a book and whilst I vaguely remembered the story it was clear that I needed a refresher. So I got buried in the books, borrowed all of the movies and researched all of the artistic interpretations that had come before. For us it was not enough to recreate something that had already been done. We wanted to create something new, take a new interpretation or address a theme that was never fully covered in the stories.
We designed three labels but for the purpose of this post I will only be discussing the Tempranillo Wine Label Design. In future posts, I might address the other two as they are both very different and grew from vastly different processes.
INSPIRATION FOR THE TEMPRANILLO
We are all familiar with the story about the Mad Hatter and Co. being sent to an eternity of Tea Times. This was the consequence of playing music to the Queen, which was not to her liking. For wasting her time she banished them to an eternity of tea times.
I found this to be quite a fascinating story to cover, not only because the Mad Hatter (a human) has a band with animals (The March Hare & Dormouse etc) but this was an area the book never really covered in detail and wouldn’t one love to be a fly on the wall to see these guys perform.
The wine labels were also targeting a young audience, whom for most, music is a great passion, so this made the theme a perfect fit.
THE MAD HATTER AND HIS BAND
One would assume that by being sent to an eternity of tea-times, the band must not have been great. Led by the Mad Hatter, one could expect the performance to be somewhat sporadic. I saw things differently. Firstly, the Queen is a b*^@$. She hates everything and everyone, so is she really in a position to make a well informed, neutral decision on the merits of the Mad Hatters Band. There is a clear difference between good music and bad music, but the appeal of different genres and styles is largely a subjective process. Perhaps the Queen just didn’t like their style or even the song they decided to play. Perhaps the band was actually really good. Afterall, most of the best bands in history have had crazy lead singers, Jim Morrison from The Doors comes to mind. Or perhaps their band was terrible, but even if it was they wouldn’t know that. To me they were a rocking band giving their all to the Queen and playing with nothing to lose. In fact to be sent to an eternity of tea times was probably actually a compliment by the Queen, the more common verdict was ‘off with their heads.’ And so, the idea for a rocking band was born.
I did quite a significant amount of research on the Mad Hatter, and it turns out that in the original stories Lewis Carrol never actually referred to Hatta or The Hatter as Mad. “Mad as a Hatter” was a term that predates the stories and was coined because Hatters would often work with Mercury, which over time could make them crazy. In any regard, The Hatter was in fact quite crazy in the stories so this was maintained in my interpretation. What I disagreed with though, was that the Mad Hatter had to also look crazy. It is a stereotype in film and popular culture for ‘bad guys’ to have scars on their faces or to be some way physically deformed. Of course, this is convenient in telling a story, especially to children who can quickly understand who the villain is, but in reality, it’s misleading, perhaps even irresponsible to kids as often great crooks will be handsome and often even charming. Take Wolf on Wallstreet as an example. So with this logic I wanted my Mad Hatter to be handsome and charming but crazy and dangerous on the inside.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHARACTERS
Firstly, I knew the band had to have a Spanish flavour or in fact be a Spanish Band. On this basis I began researching what instruments one might expect to find in a Spanish Band and thoughts of trumpets, piano accordions and Banjo’s came to mind.
I needed some inspiration for my Rocking Band so I considered the best perform in the world today.
The best performing lead singer, in my opinion, not necessarily based on talent but rather charisma and crowd engagement and energy is the lead singer from The Hives. He is both handsome and completely mad and I could think of no better fit for my lead singing Mad Had. The Mad Hatter needed to be Spanish – El Loco, and what better crazy performers are there then Matadors. El Loco therefore adorned the traditional Matador Dress, a magical hat and a fetching moustache.
The Marche Hare was El Loco’s Partner in crime. I felt the Marche Hare would be well suited to the Bass Guitar, just chilling in the back doing his thing. So I wondered who is the best and most electric Bass Guitarist in the World? Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers came to mind and so I decided to base The March Hare’s personality and performance on Flea. Later on I realised that my band was looking a bit too Rock ‘n’ roll so in the end I switched the March Hare’s Bass Guitar for a Banjo to re-establish the feel for a Spanish Band.
The Doormouse was given a Piano Accordian and also recruited to the band was The White Rabbit on Trumpet and the Frog Footman on Drums. As the White Rabbit and the Frog Footman were employees of the Queen, in my rendition they were both pardoned from an eternity of teas.
THE COMPOSITION OF THE WINE LABEL DESIGN
Firstly, I knew that this wine label would have a lot going on. With 5 star characters all-competing for attention, I needed to give each their space and to somehow divide them. After some experimentation, it became clear that a wrap-around label would become the most effective option. To exaggerate the Spanish feel, I also knew that colour would be important, but that this could also be used to further distinguish each of the five stars. With El Loco and as the lead it made sense to have him centre and being captured in full flight it allowed the perfect amount of space for the Logo, variety and vintage below. While I was eager to create a unified artwork, I also needed to give hierarchy to the Variety and Vintage so these were given their own white space. I wanted each of the 5 band members to have their own spotlight and so from a central point different bands of colour depart creating their own little space or spotlight for each of the members to shine.
Spain, as in it’s flag is often associated with yellow, red and oranges. This are fun, rich, vibrant, passionate colours and perfect to establish a Spanish feel but also helping to make the Wine Bottle pop on the shelves and enhancing the fun created from the characters. The colouring was a mixture of flat colours overlayed on elements I had painted. The painted elements are relatively subtle as I knew the label was already quite busy, but these create an added element of richness and texture. The painted imagery includes The Sagrada Familia, A bull and a Flamenco Dancer. The gold trim is a point of difference to give the label a slightly more mature and expensive feel.
A COMPLETE ARTWORK
The label had too much going on to waste space on legalities and other functional aspects such as barcodes. This label was to have no back label, nor a section added to include these features. These aspects would be integrated to be part and possibly even enhance the artwork. With Wine Label Design, Barcodes are always the big challenge. They are large and obtrusive. For the La La Land Tempranillo Label the Barcode would become the Bands Amplifier and Speaker. Other necessary information, such as the wines flavour notes became integrated with the White Rabbit, becoming the sound coming from his trumpet. As a story we also decided to implement a rhyme to further enhance the fun and experience.
As with all artworks I finished it off by signing the bottom right corner.
To see the final results of this La La Land Label and the other La La Land Labels visit their page in our portfolio
I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about the processes that go into creating Unique Wine Label Designs. The La La Land Tempranillo will be available at Dan Murphy’s and other leading bottle shops, so make sure to check it out in person. The wine is also as good as the Artwork, so enjoy!