Beer Can Design Spotlight Part 4 - Aidan Howes

Here at Black Hops the design process is something that we love! So we’ve recently been shining the spotlight on some of the designers we collaborate with for our beer can designs.

In our first Design Spotlight series we got to know Troy Cochrane of Troy Designs, who has designed over 30 beer cans for us. Check it out here. 

Our second can designer in the series was Daniel Ricafrente, a 2D animator-illustrator based in the Philippines, whose first design for us was for one of our first GABS beers, Bandwagon Dessert Stout. 

Our third designer, Dave Heavyside, has come up with some of our most iconic can artwork, including for the GABS award winning Murder Hornet Black IPA.

Time to meet our next designer in this series.  

Aidan Howes

Aidan is our most recent can designer to have worked with us. He messaged us on Instagram out of the blue and said he was a designer and wanted to be considered for projects. We had a look at his profile and his work was super unique and cool so we got back to him pretty much straight away with a potential new project. 

One of Aidan’s major design undertakings was to come up with the themed cans to commemorate the sixth birthday celebrations of the Burleigh Taproom and Brewery (HQ) this year. Each of the six cans was inspired by the wildlife present around the Burleigh Heads region of the Gold Coast, including lorikeets, fireflies and dolphins. It made perfect sense to work with him on it because he already had a bunch of cool designs on his account that we could immediately see would suit the style of what we wanted to do. 

Getting To Know Aidan

How did you get into the design game?

Pretty accidentally! When I was writing my thesis at uni (which was about copyright legislation reform, nothing to do with design) I started sketching mountain scapes and things as a way of de-stressing after long sessions of writing. I didn’t really show anyone for a while, but eventually my girlfriend at the time convinced me to post a few online. One thing led to another and I started picking up private commissions. Following on from this I did some shirt designs for my local rock-climbing gym and eventually I started picking up design work for clothing brands and breweries.

From a design perspective, who are a few of your greatest role models/inspirations?

I love the intersection between pop culture and Australiana. So in that vein, definitely people like Reg Mombaasa, Maz Dixon and Kentaro Yoshida. Also Carmen Hui, I’ve got one of her pencil drawings hanging in my flat (a bunch of flowers in a VB can vase) – she does really cool work.

How did you end up designing beer cans for Black Hops?

Hmm, Instagram I think? For all its issues, it’s a pretty powerful tool for enabling smaller designers to engage with brands and broader audiences. So with Black Hops I think our wires crossed online and a few DMs later I’d been brought onboard to design a can for them.

Can you briefly run through the process of how you work with Black Hops to come up with the can designs?

It really varies – a few times Black Hops has provided a fairly detailed brief of what they’re after, other times just a broad vibe or theme. Generally, I’ll let an idea stew over in my head for a few days until I get a clearer picture of where I want to take it. Often I’ll be taking a bath or chopping up carrots when suddenly it clicks. Then we’ll workshop concept sketches and refine them until it’s hitting the mark.

Do you have a personal favourite Black Hops can design that you came up with so far?

Not a can, but my most recent design for BH is a lager decal (decals are the badges that sit on top of beer taps at the pub, to let you know what’s pouring). It features a cowboy and a lush sunrise colour scheme. I’m not sure when it’s coming out, but I was pretty pleased with it. Keep an eye out anyway.

Who are a few of your other clients?

Mostly Aussie and New Zealand breweries and outdoor brands – Earth Beer Co, Grassy Knoll Brewing, Cold Hands Brewing, Sunday Road – then also Barney Cools, We Are Explorers, Climbing Anchors, and a couple of independent music artists I design album covers for.

I’m fairly picky with who I work with, so it’s really just brands that resonate or put out things that I like. I once got approached by a whiskey brand, but to be honest I really dislike whiskey, so I didn’t feel right partnering with them, haha. Probably a dumb business move, but oh well.

Aidan’s Black Hops Can Designs

Here’s a gallery of Aidan’s Black Hops can designs – click on the images to enlarge them.



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