A. Junod Absinthe’s Label Highlights Health and Hallucinations

“From the moment I knew I had to design the whole bottle, I tried to find a way to encapsulate the atmosphere of mystery and superstition that distinguishes absinthe,” explained Randy Mora, the designer behind A. Junod Absinthe. “I wanted people to experience the universe of A. Junod from the very first encounter with the bottle. I didn't try to hide the infamous tales with which absinthe has always been associated with; instead, I wanted to take advantage of them by creating a surreal yet seductive world.”

Certainly, the delightfully mysterious label gives consumers a little taste of what the experience is like, even before they open the bottle. Relying on a collage-inspired design, Mora incorporated the incredible stories often told about absinthe, highlighting the often hallucinatory experiences people have while drinking it.

Because the brief was simple, he had a lot of freedom to explore different options. Once Mora decided on a digital collage, it was time to create the story. “The focus of the composition is a two-faced green fairy with a golden eye in the middle,” he told us, which is actually his favorite element of the entire design since it truly represents the two sides of the drink. Absinthe was created at the end of the 18th century by a French doctor in order to produce a beverage with healing effects. It didn’t take long for it to be manufactured and distributed as an alcoholic beverage—one well-known among a bohemian group of artists and writers who told tales of its effect on the mind and body.

“That was my main inspiration to create the two-faced green fairy,” Mora explained. “I wanted to highlight in a subtle way the paradox of the two motivations that were involved in the creation of absinthe, I wanted to present both stories inside the same universe.”

“Once I found the right look and expression for the fairy, I started creating a universe around her. For my process, I use all kinds of vintage imagery and ephemera that I collect from the web and discarded magazines, and then I scan everything and organize it on several folders. A concept usually emerges from a simple idea and the assemblage of a few clippings that begin to show me a path. Most of the process is under control, but I always like to leave room for chance so I can be surprised when, at certain point, the composition seems to become self-aware and starts to build itself.”

Balancing the heavy presence of illustrations, the logo, and the needed legal information proved to be a challenge. “While the whole illustration had to somehow inhabit the bottle, the typographic elements also had to be integrated into it without feeling forced or losing readability. Several tests were made to achieve this balance so the artwork didn't overshadow the work made on lettering and type treatment by the talented Simón Londoño aka Le Monsta.”

The collage process itself is also not any easy one. “The process in a collage piece involves stages that can take hours and even become tedious,” Mora said. “For instance, the search for suitable imagery, to find the right elements for the story that's being told, to integrate a variety of sources like photographs, paintings and old prints.”

But that is, after all, part of the joy of designing a label like the one for A. Junod Absinthe. Everything eventually comes together into a cohesive and credible scene. “I like that when people take a closer look at my work, they can't be sure whether they're looking at a painted image or something created from scratch,” Mora added. “I like that the source of each clipping and texture becomes difficult to perceive.”