Process: El Mariachi Red Wine Series

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IKON BC was given the task of designing the labels for El Mariachi red wine series from the Sonora Province. They collaborated with the talented Illustrator, Steve Simpson and quickly became part of the team.

“When IKON BC was given the task of designing the labels for El Mariachi red wine series, we recognized the importance of creating something that really stood out from the existing Mexican wine labels exported to the Californian and New England regions of the United States.

The El Mariachi collection is primarily targeted towards young adults, this demographic is becoming of greater importance in the red wine market. Our team wanted to go beyond the conventional labels and create something that has a visual aesthetic of the brand's emotion and personality. Thus, we decided to use an accompanying neck-hanger element in the form of 3 Mariachi heads, one for each label. The three Mariachi brothers: Roberto, Chucho and Pepe, will spice up every soiree and party in a Mexican way.”

The Dieline had the opportunity to ask Creative and Art Director, Eugene Kuprienko from IKON BC and Steve Simpson about their process of creating the unique labels and bottle neck-hangers. 

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Tiffanie: What was the prompt from Hermosillo Varietales ? Did they specify for an illustrative design?

Eugene: The client asked us to create packaging, which would distinguish goods on the shelf from huge number of other Mexican wines. It is difficult to Hermosillo to compete on any technological or raw material resources, therefore, the wine had to possess deep philosophy and character, the person, which could identify with something clear that is easy to remember (besides certain physical characteristics). Initially there was no prompt to create the packaging in which the illustration is taken for a basis. To such approach we came only after coordination and discussion of several concepts of packaging.

Tiffanie: What was the time frame you have for the project?

Eugene: For the project were allocated two months. About one month we spent on development of the concepts, design researches and prototyping. About illustrative part, I think, Steve will tell in more details, but I would notice that the client accepted Steve's illustrations at once, practically without any remarks.

Tiffanie: Was it a decision from the beginning to collaborate with Steve for the illustrations? How did the collaboration started?

Eugene: After the concept (where the illustration plays the most significant role) was chosen, we began selection of the possible illustrators which style, in our opinion, would solve our project’s goal fully on the one hand, and has its own personality on the other hand. We considered candidates of four illustrators from the different countries (Mexico, Russia, Ireland), but as a result we stopped on Steve as his illustrations in the Mexican style, made earlier for other project, could transfer character of a brand in a bigger measure. I wrote to Steve through Behance and sent him a concept’s prototype and very soon got the answer “Ha, fun J”. So, our collaboration was started after we discussed some project’s details and time frames.

The Brothers

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Tiffanie: Did you have other character explorations before concluding at the three brothers: Roberto, Chucho and Pepe? How did the brothers come about?

Steve: Actually, initially we didn't assume that characters would have their own names. On one of client’s meetings on which we had to approve final illustrations, Jose Arroyo (CEO of the Hermosillo Casa Madero) told that one of characters reminds his brother Jesus (Chucho). So, that gave rise to the idea of a band of brothers, amongst which most charismatic Roberto with glasses and rose.

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Tiffanie: Steve, you've done many illustrations for package design. What is your approach of illustrating for a package in comparison to a book or other format?

Steve: Up until a few years ago I approached design in a traditional way, it was either a design or illustration lead project; one having precedence over the other. Then something changed, one day I literally woke up and thought 'Why shouldn't the packaging be just one big illustration?" It's really nothing more than a mind-set but thinking this way allowed me to balance out the design and illustration elements; neither one is fighting for recognition. I think it's allowed me to create designs with much better balance ever since. My work on various other types of projects, including picture books, posters and editorial work, has varying levels of design input and some are stand alone illustrations, but I feel it's packaging that really suits me best at present.

The Labels 

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Alternate Barcode

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Chosen Barcode

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Tiffanie: What's next? Can we expect to see a selection of White Wines?

Eugene: Yes, hope in a few months will see El Mariachi’s Chardonnay and Riesling bottles. Also, we hope to collaborate with Steve again.

The Team 

Agency: IKON BC

Creative and Art Director: Eugene Kuprienko

Designers: Eugene Kuprienko, Steve Simpson, Anatoly Ivanov

Illustrator: Steve Simpson (@SteveSimpson)

Photography: Vasily Fetisov (FAME Studio)

Project director: Dave Nichols

Papercraft Keylines: Eugene Kuprienko