Brewing Change with Art: Three Trailblazing Women Artists
How Three Women Artists Are Disrupting the Brewing Landscape Through Art
by Ruvani de Silva
Representation matters. Presentation matters. Art is a powerful medium, which can challenge and normalize in equal measures. What we see affects what we expect to see, and what we find visually interesting and appealing can change our perceptions and opinions. A big part of making the beer industry and the culture that surrounds it more inclusive involves diversifying the visual cultural associations commonly attached to beer in order to accurately reflect the contemporary makeup of the beer community.
There are three brilliant women artists currently creating dynamic designs for that very purpose. Their work is filling a crucial cultural space in the industry, challenging patriarchy and preconceptions about beer through beautiful, engaging, and educational imagery.
Boozy Craft Corner by Sabrina Grimes
Sabrina Grimes, aka Boozy Craft Corner, became inspired to make beer-based art in mid-2019 after visiting the Central Florida Ale Trail with a friend. According to Sabrina, “Hayley and I would look at the shirts and can art and just the general vibe of all the breweries, and we noticed they were all the same and none of them really spoke to us”. She says, “I got bummed out feeling like I maybe didn’t belong, but I decided that I wasn’t going let it push me out. I had a feeling other people might be feeling the same, so I started to make beer inspired art to be express a side I didn’t see.” Based in Killeen, Texas, Sabrina is incredibly passionate about her art and left her job to pursue Boozy Craft Corner full-time in early 2020.
The Boozy Craft Corner designs are unapologetically female-focused, celebrating the female body and spirit with warm, stylized, and instantly relatable images. From Hoppy Boobs (literally just that) to Sassy Beer Ladies (a gang of super-cool beer-glass-women in shades as varied as both beers and humans come) to the fabulously named Bad Bitch Beer Club, Sabrina’s imagery shouts ‘women welcome’.
“Diversity and inclusion are my sole drive to wake up and work on Boozy Craft Corner,” she says. “I actually hate the terms diversity and inclusion. I just want a sense of normalcy in the beer industry. I want women who drink beer to feel as normal as the sky is blue”, a sentiment so warm and uplifting that it’s easy to understand why Sabrina’s art has been such a hit among the female beer community, with her designs regularly seen on brewers, taproom staff, bloggers and fans.
Sabrina’s art reflects her positivity and commitment to improving accessibility through design.” I like to think art can have a huge impact, but there is not enough out there yet to be making the difference the industry needs,” she says. Looking forward, Sabrina is confident that there is both the scope and the space for artists like her to act as instigators for change. “I believe with more people creating beer-inclusive art and spaces then the more it will trickle into the industry,” she says, voicing a desire that’s shared by so many diverse members of the beer world.
Stasia Brew by Stasia Brewczynski
New England-based beer artist Stasia Brewczynski of Stasia Brew is also motivated by a strongly-held desire to incite change. “Making our industry more inclusive, just, and equitable can and should be everyone’s goal,” she says. “I’m a big proponent of a diversity of tactics, and generally counsel folks with high levels of privilege to strongly consider taking on bigger or riskier tactics, rather than leaving that work to folks who are already more marginalized.” Stasia has been making beer art since 2018 and opened her online store in March 2020.
Her experience as a woman working in the male-dominated beer industry, including front-of-house, events management, and communications roles, has inspired much of her art and given her a close-up perspective of the challenges marginalized groups face in the beer industry. “The mere existence of marginalized folks is an affront to the cis [hetero] white male dominant status quo in our industry,” she says. “Images of non-men enjoying beer are as revolutionary as they are joyful — and so is my own presence in beer.”
Stasia’s artwork is brimming with inclusivity, with pieces like Drink What You Like, Craft Beer Lovers, and Self-Care Is Radical all depicting beer being happily enjoyed by people of marginalized genders and ethnicities. “Generally, I draw non-men in my beer art, but not specific individuals,” she says. “This is intentional, because even though I’m regularly inspired by real people, I want to allow space for anyone who relates to my work to see themselves in my art.”
One exception to this was a portrait of Washington-based brewer Rachael Engel, to support her bid to join the board of the Brewer’s Association. “The BA is a national lobbying organization that has an ongoing history of aiding and embedding bigots among its heavily white male membership, and Rachael is among the people advocating and working for positive change,” Stasia explains.
“She ran on the platform of inclusion, accountability, and equity — three values the BA has admitted they’re struggling with. It’s a major loss for the organization and the beer community at large that Rachael was not elected.”
Stasia also believes that diversity in artwork and artists is important to the industry, and that the industry needs to be responsible for pro-actively incentivizing a wider creative base. “I’d love to see breweries paying appropriate and transparent rates to more diverse creative talent, who can help positively depict a wider range of art styles and subjects on labels, websites, and other materials to better reflect as well as develop inclusivity and diversity within the industry,” she says, emphasizing the need for authentic and fairly remunerated representation.
Like Sabrina, Stasia believes that art has an important role in facilitating change. “My beer art is resistance art,” she says “It’s a way to see myself and other marginalized folks reflected positively in the beer community, and to hopefully create more space for us as well.”
While there are absolutely no rules stating that beer education is an essential component to either enjoying beer or being a part of the beer community, it is undoubtedly a valuable tool for those working or aspiring to work in the industry.
In addition, it is also a useful and fun way for drinkers to get a better understanding about why they like what they like. As with any other field, learning and improving one’s knowledge and understanding demystifies the processes of both brewing and tasting beer. Furthermore, it also enables a stronger and more grounded appreciation of something that you love.
Access to beer education, while lacking specific or obvious restrictions, has usually meant going through certain prescribed channels, including the Beer Judging Certification Program (BJCP) and Cicerone Certification Program, both with hefty, detailed syllabi designed with industry insiders in mind.
Pints and Panels by Em Sauter
Professional cartoonist and Advanced Cicerone®- qualified international beer judge, Em Sauter, has been working to change this with her visual beer education website, Pints and Panels. Em first began making beer comics over a decade ago when she was in art school — first combining her passions for drawing and beer while attending the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, VT.
“Living in Vermont, I had such great access to some of the best beers out there and I started to review those beers in cartoon form to fill time during a summer break. It turned into so much more,” she says. Em published her first book, Beer Is For Everyone!, in 2018, with a specific goal of improving diversity and inclusion in beer through accessibility. “I didn’t create the book for just one set of people,” she says. “Beer has a seat for everyone at the table, and my art tries to show that”.
The book includes an illustrated history of brewing, as well as examples to illustrate different beer styles by flavor. “I took brands I loved from around America and used them as a teaching tool,” Em explains. “You like hops? Drink these. Do you like chocolate? Drink these.” By offering image-based accessible information, Em’s work creates a new way to learn about beer. As Em progressed with her own Cicerone training, she launched her Visual Master Cicerone program with illustrations of the huge range of styles that the Master Cicerone qualification requires a solid knowledge of.
“I know I learn visually,” she says. “So, I wanted to be able to study to take the exam on my terms. It’s been a huge help.” The images are all available free on the Pints and Panels website, providing high quality beer-education to anyone who is interested. With knowledge and qualifications becoming increasingly valued and sought-after in both the beer industry and the wider community, Pints and Panels, Beer Is For Everyone, and Visual Master Cicerone provide a welcome, accessible, and inclusive avenue into beer education. This is a world away from the dense study tomes usually recommended.
Em is currently working on a new book, Hooray For Beer!, which will be published by Brewers Publications in 2022. “I’m really excited to be working on this book which will be the first 100% illustrated guide to beer,” she says. “I hope people use my art to further their knowledge about beer. That’s the most important part of what Pints and Panels does- give people an easy, free tool to learn about beer in an uncomplicated and adorable way.”
Diversity and inclusion in any industry requires genuine concerted efforts across all fronts, and while art might only make up a small sector of the beer industry as a whole, it can have a significant impact and a disproportionately wide reach. Visual representation, as celebration, as rebellion, and as learning, all offer critical opportunities to further and improve accessibility to the beer world, and Sabrina, Stasia, and Em are creating powerful and important work that is making exciting and welcome waves for change.
Follow these three amazing artists:
Boozy Craft Corner by Sabrina Grimes on Instagram at @BoozyCraftCorner.
Stasia Brew by Stasia Brewczynski on Instagram at @StasiaBrew.
Pints and Panels by Em Sauter on Instagram at @PintsandPanels.