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The Designing Winemaker


My hobby may be winemaking, but by day I am a commercial artist.

I use house paint on a daily basis at my job,  so when I have the opportunity to create artwork at home I don’t spend that obscene amount of money at art supply stores —  I do all of my shopping at the local hardware store.

To combine my two interests, I also design the wine labels for our home winery — the Hoffmann Family Winery. I enjoy painting on Plexiglas versus canvas so when I start a new project I pick up a few sheets of Plexiglas, grab a few of those throw-away poly-foam brushes (those fine sable hair brushes are way too expensive) and a gallon or two of house paint and I’m ready to go! Before I start painting, though, to make sure the paint adheres to the surface of the Plexiglas, I prepare the surface by painting a layer of XIM primer to the surface first. Otherwise, the paint can be easily scratched off the surface of the Plexiglas.

I think to truly enjoy this label design, which is an original piece of artwork, you really have to see the piece in person. I created it using three separate pieces of Plexiglas to produce a layered effect. The bottom sheet is the background, which is a variety of paint splatter (which, by the way, is a great way to get your frustrations out from a long day at work). The second (middle) piece of Plexiglas is a caricature of my wife. The last piece (top sheet) is the brick archway.

In between each piece of Plexiglas is foam core board that I carved out in the shape of the piece so that each sheet would be elevated above the other to create a cool three-dimensional effect (not to mention the shadow effects).  I am planning to do a series of these designs for each member of our family — but since we don’t have children, our two “kids” the cats will also have their own label design.

The logo design of the Hoffmann Family Winery is also an original design, with the wine glasses as the “Y’s”. The logo design was photocopied on an overhead transparency so that I can reuse that same logo on the other label designs.

Once I finished creating the piece, which measures 9 1⁄2 x 13 in.. with the homemade frame included, I took it to an office supply store and had them shrink it down to label size. From that point they were able to fit six copies of this design onto a full sheet of label paper.  At home
I can then cut those sheets of labels apart and use them on my homemade bottles of wine.  The best part about creating original artwork is that we can also hang it in our home.

The concept behind the design allows me the option to use this label on any variety of wine we make. Across the arch of the brick window I will handwrite the type of wine contained in the bottle so that I can use it for a red or white wine. Now maybe I’ll be able to give this wine as a gift and not have to resort to labeling the bottles with blue painter’s tape and a black sharpie marker. The inspiration behind this label came from my wife —beautiful isn’t she?

In addition to my label designs, I have also painted murals in the kitchen of our home that depict various wine grapes as well as a wine glass and picture of my wife looking out a window. As I create each of the the pieces of artwork for our “kids” I hope to incorporate them into the murals within our home.