Meet Aurelien Vervaeke: The Man Behind the Raccoons
As we approach our one-year anniversary, many of you have asked us about our raccoon iconography, the inspiration behind our labels, and the mere raison d'être for our branding. Well, then what better than to introduce you to the man behind the curtain: Bandit Brewery's very own artist-in-residence Aurelien Vervaeke.
Aurelien's story is quite interesting; he quit his job as an art director for a well-known advertising agency in France and moved to Toronto without any contacts, job, or apartment in order to improve his English and to experience life in Canada. "I needed a fresh start, and Toronto is not a bad place to do that," he tells us.
He ended up staying in Toronto for two full years. Since leaving, he still returns to our city every year; he calls Toronto his "second home". His love of our city as an outsider, combined with his incredible talents, made Aurelien the ideal artist to work with when creating the Bandit brand. "As time goes by, I miss the lake, the islands... it makes a difference to have a waterfront, especially in a big city," he adds.
The inspiration for his work and his style comes from many distinct and varied sources: "I was influenced from a young age by North-American design, comic strips and cartoons such as The Simpsons and Futurama. As I grew older French and Belgian artists began to create an impression on me as well." Another important influence on his style was Toronto itself. "I found people in Toronto open to many forms of arts. The city is enthusiastic about creativity, new concepts, and raccoons" he tells us.
So what comes first, the design or the beer name? When asked about his process creating the beer labels for Bandit, he tells us: "The first step is to sketch a lot of different ideas inspired by the name or a general concept, like the Dundas West Coast IPA. After that, I try to figure out how to bring the raccoon into the label as to continue the Bandit story."
Another big inspiration for his work with us is his true love of beer. Having studied in Belgium for a few years made an impact on him. He's a big fan of traditional breweries with a long history. He enjoys highly-fermented and strong beers and counts Duvel as his favourite brand of European beers. As for his favourite Bandit beers: "I had a chance to try them all last summer and I loved Smoke On The Porter and Wizard of Gose for their distinct flavours."
Lastly, we had to ask him what his favourite work for Bandit has been:" I can't choose one in particular, but I was thrilled to hear so much good feedback on the logo, it looks fantastic on the beer glasses!"
Expect more exceptional work from Aurelien in the next little while. We can't wait to see what he makes our raccoon pals do next time!
18 x 24 prints of Aurelien's Bandit art are now on sale at our bottle shop.