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From street art to Jameson limited edition bottle

Dublin street artist James Earley explains how he retained his signature style and brought both his art and the Irish whiskey brand to life when designing the label for the new limited edition bottle

James Earley

As an artist, new challenges and points of inspiration are part-and-parcel of sustaining your creativity. It’s this adrenalin rush at overcoming a creative issue or landing on the perfect way to express an idea that first got me interested in visual arts.

When I was at school the street art scene in Dublin was just starting to explode. It was a movement that totally arrested me: large scale works that could be seen by a mass audience, the unique aesthetic, a high-paced creative process (often at night) and an air of rebellion surrounding the whole discipline – this is what made me realise art (and specifically street art) was for me. Almost 20 years later I got a call from Jameson – a brand that clearly shared these interests – and we embarked on our design for this year’s St Patrick’s Day limited edition bottle.

The Spirit of Dublin

The creative process started three years ago, with one of those career-highlight days that you don’t forget: Jameson asking me to pitch to design its prestigious St Patrick’s Day limited edition bottle.

It was a project that I was already aware of and I particularly enjoyed David Smith’s design in 2013, which showcased the craft of Jameson – a really successful design, I thought. Bottle design itself was new, but something that I’d always found interesting; as a street artist, being able to create a piece that can be held in your hand as a tangible, 3D piece of art, is a very different and satisfying experience.

As well as this, the creative brief of “what does Dublin mean to you?” really struck a chord. I’m a Dubliner and come from a long line of Dublin-based artists; being recognised by one of our country's iconic brands to create a bottle for our national day was a great honour.

Landing on the design

For me, working with Jameson and respecting the Jameson brand, was almost one of the easiest parts of the project. What concerned me far more were the bigger themes and shared interests that Jameson and I wanted to communicate in this project: creating a genuine sense of Dublin within the piece; illustrating Ireland in a contemporary manner; avoiding tweeness and clichés.

Having access to the Jameson Archive was a particularly rewarding experience and really opened my eyes to Jameson’s commitment to cultivating that great Irish tradition of storytelling. I wanted my design to draw on this rich history and also show how the spirit of stories and shared experiences lives on today; conviviality is second nature to the Irish and both Dublin and Jameson continue to bring people together to create unique moments.

It was from this thinking point that the final design materialised. The bridges that cross Dublin’s River Liffey have long been key to the soul of the city; as well as visual icons in their own right, the bridges link together spaces, people and ideas - for me, the perfect metaphor of Jameson and Dublin’s inclusive, friendly outlook. The final bottle is covered in interconnecting lines and motifs from the bridges, centred on a slogan – “Dublin, our city” – that reinforces the welcoming nature of the city and Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Working with Jameson on this year’s St Patrick's Day limited edition bottle has been a huge honour and a truly rewarding project. I hope that when you enjoy your next sip of Jameson you’re able to mull over the bottle design and experience a flavour of what Dublin means to me.

11 April 2016