Col­lec­tive Arts

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Col­lec­tive Arts, launched last Oc­to­ber, has been send­ing rip­ples through both the craft beer com­mu­nity and the lo­cal art scene.

Founders Matt John­ston and Bob Rus­sell met while work­ing at Hop City Brew­ing. Bored by one-di­men­sional ven­tures, they brain­stormed their own con­cept in the in­ter­est of sup­port­ing their shared pas­sions, and Col­lec­tive Arts was born.

John­ston de­scribes him­self and Rus­sell as creative junkies with a deep-seated love of mu­sic, the arts and all things craft-brewed.

“Com­bine this with our ab­so­lute dis­dain for the sta­tus quo and you have the in­gre­di­ents that led to the birth of Col­lec­tive Arts. We be­lieve the art of brew­ing and the tal­ents of artists are a nat­u­ral fit. Cre­ativ­ity, curiosity, dis­cov­ery and cel­e­bra­tion are com­mon to both pur­suits. Col­lec­tive Arts aims to make in­spired brews and sup­port emerg­ing artists through the nat­u­ral so­cia­bil­ity of craft beer,” says John­ston.

The bot­tles they pro­duce are quite lit­er­ally pieces of art show­cas­ing mu­sic, film, words and vi­su­als by Cana­dian and in­ter­na­tional artists.

Each ex­clu­sive se­ries, in­clud­ing 70 to 90 la­bels, lasts only a few months. Se­ries Three is slated for re­lease in July.

The process for se­lect­ing the artists whose work is fea­tured on la­bels is a com­plex one.

“We con­duct a global call for art and mu­sic four times a year,” John­ston ex­plains. “We then cu­rate all the amaz­ing sub­mis­sions down to a man­age­able num­ber of la­bels for each se­ries. For Se­ries Three, we were over­whelmed by over 1,200 amaz­ing sub­mis­sions from around the world.”

To as­sist in the huge task, they’ve re­cruited six in­dus­try lead­ers: John St. creative direc­tor Stephen Jurisic, cul­tural en­trepreneur and artist Fred Caron, mul­ti­me­dia/mu­sic jour­nal­ist Er­rol Nazareth, Map & Co prin­ci­pal/Spazio Gallery part­ner Poet Far­rell, Indie88 pro­gram direc­tor Adam Thomp­son and Au­dio Blood CEO/founder Sari Del­mar.

Se­ries Three in­cludes over 70 pieces of art and mu­sic. “Each se­lected artist re­ceives a pay­ment from Col­lec­tive Arts along with a com­mem­o­ra­tive bot­tle,” John­ston says. “In ad­di­tion to fea­tur­ing the artists on the la­bels, we also sup­port and pro­mote them on­line and through our events. In a sense, this all ties in to what we be­lieve to be the world’s most re­fresh­ing art and mu­sic gallery.”

Through part­ner Blippar, an image-recog­ni­tion and aug­mented re­al­ity plat­form, you can ac­cess Col­lec­tive Arts’ mu­sic, videos and artist info with just a quick scan.

“We wanted a tech­nol­ogy part­ner to help drinkers en­gage with the artists on our la­bels on an in­ter­ac­tive and in­ti­mate level,” John­ston says.

La­bels have Blippar tech­nol­ogy that links to in­ter­ac­tive pro­files of artists when scanned on smart­phones with the Blippar app. Beer coast­ers also fea­ture artists and are ac­ces­si­ble via the app.

But Col­lec­tive Arts brew is much more than a se­ries of stim­u­lat­ing la­bels. The beer is pro­duced at Nickel Brook by brew­mas­ter Ryan Mor­row. Flag­ship beer Rhyme & Rea­son just won gold in the North Amer­i­can Pale Ale cat­e­gory at the 2014 Cana­dian Brew­ing Awards.

In order to show­case Mor­row’s ob­vi­ous tal­ent and explore even more ex­cit­ing ter­ri­tory, the next log­i­cal step is ex­pan­sion.

“We have so many things we want to do, but first we need to in­crease our brew­ing ca­pac­ity. To do this, we’re build­ing a brew­ery in Hamil­ton in part­ner­ship with Nickel Brook. It’ll be called Arts & Science,” John­ston re­veals.

They chose Hamil­ton be­cause of its evolv­ing creative scene, John­ston ex­plains. The new brew­ery should be op­er­at­ing by the end of 2014 – big strides for a com­pany that ran its first call for sub­mis­sions be­fore it had a flag­ship beer.

“Be­fore we brewed our first case, there were a lot of skep­tics. It’s not like we did any re­search. We just said, ‘Bor­ing is bor­ing – let’s do some­thing that in­spires us and oth­ers,’” John­ston says. “Luck­ily, we didn’t lis­ten to the skep­tics, and both artists and drinkers ap­pre­ci­ate the pas­sion we put into the art and the beer.” drinks@now­toronto.com | @s_­parns

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