Interviews

Le Trou du Diable

Fred Jourdain / Martin Parrot

In 2013, Fred and I were talking a lot about the labels of Quebec beer companies, as well as their publicity and branding. He had lots of questions about the whole process. That same year, he actually started creating beer labels for craft beer maker, Le Trou du Diable. Fred understood well Le Trou du Diable's personality and he adapted his style to bring justice to the business' brand.

How did your collaboration with Le Trou du Diable begin?

It's a bit weird actually. Everything happened all at once in the fall of 2013. I met Isaac Tremblay, one of the co-founders of Le Le trou du diable Back then, I was starting to take an interest in craft beer and I was curious about the image and branding of many breweries. Meanwhile, Isaac needed an image for timing was perfect. Isaac needed a visual for Les Limbes, a limited edition beer brewed in collaboration with the Dieu du Ciel brewery . The timing was perfect.


Back then Were you a fan of the beer labels you were seeing on grocery store shelves?

I found that most of the labels of Quebec beer companies were either repetitive or very classic. In my opinion, Le Trou du Diable was already one of the more interesting brands to look at. Their visuals stood out. The first beer I bought from them was La Pitoune and I chose it because of the beauty of the illustration on the bottle. I wondered who had made it because it was a really well crafted image. After a bit of research, I discov-ered it was a drawing that dated back to the beginning of the 20th century, probably from a magazine. By using this illustration, Le Trou du Diable skillfully combined traditional imagery with a modern twist. The design of their bottles was also very distinctive. I later learned they were molded from a prototype they got from their friends at twist more modern of their own. The design of the bottles was also very distinctive, molded from the prototype of their friends from Beau's Brewery Deciding not to go ahead with the regular 500 ml bottle was an original and simple idea. In my opinion, the guys understood the importance of having a unique visual sig-nature, one that added value to their product.

I grew up in an environment where old Coca-Cola ads were considered art pieces. When you think about it, Illustrations are an art form that are perfect to market and sell prod-ucts. You only have to look back on the ads Alfons Mucha drew for JOB cigarette papers to understand the value an illustrator's touch can bring to consumer products. By the way, Mucha was shunned by academics because of his work in market-ing. Art connoisseurs believed Mucha had lost his artistic integrity because of those ads. The debate on artistic integrity is nothing new.


When Isaac Tremblay contacted you, was he hoping his beer labels would become works of art?

 

Back then, the brewery was on the verge of substantially growing production and distri-bution. On top of their regular beers, Le Trou du Diable was set to add a variety of new seasonal products to store shelves. Isaac wanted to give them a visual personality, star-ting with Les Limbes. He told me, "I want a drawing of the Grim Reaper in purgatory."

I drew some sketches and ended up with a concept that brought together a young wo-man and the Grim Reaper. It's a classic layout that comes from an ancient myth: love and beauty come face to face with death and end up giving it a touch of humanity. It's a very romantic idea and I wanted to give the image some of the style of 1950s American comic books. With my more relaxed drawing style, it ended up being a unique hybrid. It was my first collaboration with Le Trou du Diable and since then, I've created 18 of their labels.


With the exception of the one you did for Les Limbes, it feels like several of your other labels are more cartoonish. They're a lot different from what we find in your portraits and your more narrative scenes.

You're right. I wanted to do something different, something with more of a "comic book" feel despite Le Trou du Diable's themes that are dark and hint towards danger. Here in Quebec, a large part of the illustrations used in beer branding have been in-spired by traditional or folkloric imagery. There were, and there still are, a lot of dra-matic scenes borrowed from colonial French-Canadian and Catholic heritage. The Unibroue brewery started that trend with its labels years ago and it was very success-ful. But for Le Trou du Diable's labels, I decided to go back to the drawing style I had when I was a teenager. It just came naturally and I've always liked funny and more hu-morous illustrations. In fact, I worked on some issues of Safarir (Quebec's version of MAD Magazine) when I was 17 or 18 years old. That experience influenced me a lot so it was kind of instinctive for me to return to that style. The labels have a touch of irony and humour and I think they turned out really well.

Here in Quebec, a large part of the illustrations and works used for the beer visual are inspired by the traditional or folk imaginary. There were, and still are, many dramatic designs borrowed from French-Canadian colonial heritage and the legacy of the Catholic religion. Unibroue has a little introduced this trend on their labels there is already a moment and it was very successful. I wanted to do something different, more "comics", despite the themes of Hole which are often tinged with danger. With a touch of irony and humor, it seems to me that it goes perfectly!


The labels received a lot of attention and I think their success encouraged other craft breweries to try and distinguish themselves with unique designs. It turns out illustrators are more and more in demand for this type of work. I like to think that we set a prece-dent. When you think about it, the design of a beer label is as important as an album cover. And nowadays, there are so many to explore. I noticed how big of a deal craft beer has become during a trip to the United States few years ago: the shelves of stores that specialize in microbrews are like art galleries.

Do you like beer?

Yes of course. I am an amateur of Pale Ale and the quality of their IPA session Yeah, of course. I enjoy hoppy and bitter pale ales and session IPAs. You know, there are more and more amazing products on store shelves across Quebec, much to the delight of beer lovers. I like that the bottles and cans have more of an eclectic branding. I'd love to illustrate cans one day because I prefer them to bottles. And I'd also like to do some-thing completely different than what I did for Le Trou du Diable - something with the same personal approach but from another angle. I have a lot of respect for the audacity of certain breweries that have abstract labels inspired by the Bauhaus movement.


When you started working for Le Trou du Diable, it was an independent microbrewery and one of Quebec's flagship craft beer makers. In November of 2017, the company was bought by the Molson Brewing company, a huge multinational. Did that change anything for you? Will you continue to illustrate its labels?

Yes, and I'm already working on new labels. I've always worked with the co-founders, Isaac and André, and they are still doing their regular jobs and working together. I have a contract with Le Trou du Diable and it will be respected no matter who holds the company's shares. Our professional relationship has not changed and working together is still lots of fun. I think we still have many stories left to tell through the images on their beer bottles.


What are your favourite labels among the ones you illustrated ?

Definitively Les Limbes, because it's the image I connect with the most. However, I also really like Aldred, Les 4 Surfers de l'Apocalypso, Albert 3and La Bretteuse.

Les 4 surfeurs de l'Apocalypso

This was the second design I did for Le Le Trou du Diable I wanted to do something fresh… and blue! That's because, back then, I felt there were no blue beer labels on store shelves. The original idea was to have surfers who were members of a warrior tribe. Initially, it was more a "Superhero" concept. I drew lots sketches for this one and, for me, the most interesting part was incorporating Mayan masks into the illustration. I could kind of hear a tribal soundtrack and some growling coming from these masks and it was meant to be a representation of warrior spirits constantly fighting amongst themselves. That idea did come across and the label has since become a classic. Actually, the design has received a lot of praise on several beer blogs in Europe and the United States.


Albert 3

For this one, Isaac asked me for some suggestions to help him redesign the branding of one of their beers. I wanted to draw a monkey, just like the ones that were sent into space by the Americans and Russians to test the effects of space travel. Unfortunately, most of the apes sent into orbit never made it back to Earth. However, I thought it would be funny to imagine that these primates had somehow landed on a party planet where members of the Amazonian race danced all night long! On the label, Albert 3 (the third monkey in a long line primates sent to space) definitely looks satisfied to find himself on that planet, pint in hand with a cross-eyed look! This illustration is also a direct reference to tourism agency ads that date back to the beginning of the 50th century.

Aldred

John Edward Aldred is an important historical figure in Quebec. In 1898, he built the province's first hydro-electric station in Shawinigan. I thought it would be interesting to illustrate him proudly posing in front of the dam he built.

I also added a touch of vintage science-fiction imagery into the drawing by incorporat-ing giant robots installing electric power lines in the background. They're the same power lines that criss-cross the whole province today and that help provide Quebecers with clean energy. I like to think Aldred was the Howard Hughes of the energy sector. vintage with, in the background, the giant robots that plant the first electric poles in the scenery. These are the famous poles that punctuate Quebec in full, those who provide us with clean energy. I imagine Aldred as a Howard Hughes kind of energy sector.


La Bretteuse

This label is a direct reference to Lewis Caroll's novel, Alice in Wonderland. However, in my image, there's a twist to the story and the roles are reversed. Alice, now an adult, takes control of time, not the White Rabbit.

The back of the label reads, "Time is not something we receive, it's something we take." This quote is accompanied with a second drawing where we see Alice impaling the white Rabbit with his own sword. That second illustration was a request from Isaac.


PHOTO CREDITS

Anthony Jourdain, Catherine Côté, Fred Jourdain, Martin Poulin, Martin Côté

Share this article

Ó The contents of this publication may not be reproduced without the consent of the author


Interviews

Le Trou du Diable

Fred Jourdain / Martin Parrot

In 2013, Fred and I were talking a lot about the labels of Quebec beer companies, as well as their publicity and branding. He had lots of questions about the whole process. That same year, he actually started creating beer labels for craft beer maker, Le Trou du Diable. Fred understood well Le Trou du Diable's personality and he adapted his style to bring justice to the business' brand.

How did your collaboration with Le Trou du Diable begin?

It's a bit weird actually. Everything happened all at once in the fall of 2013. I met Isaac Tremblay, one of the co-founders of Le Le trou du diable Back then, I was starting to take an interest in craft beer and I was curious about the image and branding of many breweries. Meanwhile, Isaac needed an image for timing was perfect. Isaac needed a visual for Les Limbes, a limited edition beer brewed in collaboration with the Dieu du Ciel brewery . The timing was perfect.

Back then Were you a fan of the beer labels you were seeing on grocery store shelves?

I found that most of the labels of Quebec beer companies were either repetitive or very classic. In my opinion, Le Trou du Diable was already one of the more interesting brands to look at. Their visuals stood out. The first beer I bought from them was La Pitoune and my choice was greatly influenced by the beauty of the bottle's illustration.

I wondered who did it. It was really a quality image. After some research, I realized that it was a drawing from the beginning of the XIIIth century, probably from a magazine publication. Le Trou du Diable skillfully combined traditional imagery with a modern twist. The design of their bottles was also very distinctive. I later learned they were molded from a prototype they got from their friends at twist more modern of their own. The design of the bottles was also very distinctive, molded from the prototype of their friends from Beau's Brewery Deciding not to go ahead with the regular 500 ml bottle was an original and simple idea. In my opinion, the guys understood the importance of having a unique visual sig-nature, one that added value to their product.

I grew up in an environment where old Coca-Cola ads were considered art pieces. When you think about it, Illustrations are an art form that are perfect to market and sell prod-ucts. You only have to look back on the ads Alfons Mucha drew for JOB cigarette papers to understand the value an illustrator's touch can bring to consumer products. By the way, Mucha was shunned by academics because of his work in market-ing. Art connoisseurs believed Mucha had lost his artistic integrity because of those ads. The debate on artistic integrity is nothing new.

When Isaac Tremblay contacted you, was he hoping his beer labels would become works of art?

Back then, the brewery was on the verge of substantially growing production and distri-bution. On top of their regular beers, Le Trou du Diable was set to add a variety of new seasonal products to store shelves. Isaac wanted to give them a visual personality, star-ting with Les Limbes. He told me, "I want a drawing of the Grim Reaper in purgatory."

I drew some sketches and ended up with a concept that brought together a young wo-man and the Grim Reaper. It's a classic layout that comes from an ancient myth: love and beauty come face to face with death and end up giving it a touch of humanity. It's a very romantic idea and I wanted to give the image some of the style of XNUMXs American comic books. With my more relaxed drawing style, it ended up being a unique hybrid. It was my first collaboration with comics books American 1950 years. With my drawing style a little relaxed, it gave a kind of hybrid rather original. This was the first step of my collaboration with Le Trou du Diable and since then, I've created 18 of their labels.

With the exception of the one you did for Les Limbes, it feels like several of your other labels are more cartoonish. They're a lot different from what we find in your portraits and your more narrative scenes.

You're right. I wanted to do something different, something with more of a "comic book" feel despite Le Trou du Diable's themes that are dark and hint towards danger. Here in Quebec, a large part of the illustrations used in beer branding have been in-spired by traditional or folkloric imagery. There were, and there still are, a lot of dra-matic scenes borrowed from colonial French-Canadian and Catholic heritage. The Unibroue brewery started that trend with its labels years ago and it was very success-ful. But for Le Trou du Diable's labels, I decided to go back to the drawing style I had when I was a teenager. It just came naturally and I've always liked funny and more hu-morous illustrations. In fact, I worked on some issues of Safarir (Quebec's version of MAD Magazine) when I was 17 or 18 years old. That experience influenced me a lot so it was kind of instinctive for me to return to that style. The labels have a touch of irony and humour and I think they turned out really well.

Here in Quebec, a large part of the illustrations and works used for the beer visual are inspired by the traditional or folk imaginary. There were, and still are, many dramatic designs borrowed from French-Canadian colonial heritage and the legacy of the Catholic religion. Unibroue has a little introduced this trend on their labels there is already a moment and it was very successful. I wanted to do something different, more "comics", despite the themes of Hole which are often tinged with danger. With a touch of irony and humor, it seems to me that it goes perfectly!

The labels received a lot of attention and I think their success encouraged other craft breweries to try and distinguish themselves with unique designs. It turns out illustrators are more and more in demand for this type of work. I like to think that we set a prece-dent. When you think about it, the design of a beer label is as important as an album cover. And nowadays, there are so many to explore. I noticed how big of a deal craft beer has become during a trip to the United States few years ago: the shelves of stores that specialize in microbrews are like art galleries.

Do you like beer?

Yes of course. I am an amateur of Pale Ale and the quality of their IPA session Yeah, of course. I enjoy hoppy and bitter pale ales and session IPAs. You know, there are more and more amazing products on store shelves across Quebec, much to the delight of beer lovers. I like that the bottles and cans have more of an eclectic branding. I'd love to illustrate cans one day because I prefer them to bottles. And I'd also like to do some-thing completely different than what I did for Le Trou du Diable - something with the same personal approach but from another angle. I have a lot of respect for the audacity of certain breweries that have abstract labels inspired by the Bauhaus movement.

When you started working for Le Trou du Diable, it was an independent microbrewery and one of Quebec's flagship craft beer makers. In November of 2017, the company was bought by the Molson Brewing company, a huge multinational. Did that change anything for you? Will you continue to illustrate its labels?

Yes, and I'm already working on new labels. I've always worked with the co-founders, Isaac and André, and they are still doing their regular jobs and working together. I have a contract with Le Trou du Diable and it will be respected no matter who holds the company's shares. Our professional relationship has not changed and working together is still lots of fun. I think we still have many stories left to tell through the images on their beer bottles.

What are your favourite labels among the ones you illustrated ?

Definitively Les Limbes, because it's the image I connect with the most. However, I also really like Aldred, Les 4 Surfers de l'Apocalypso, Albert 3and La Bretteuse.

Les 4 surfeurs de l'Apocalypso

This was the second design I did for Le Le Trou du Diable I wanted to do something fresh… and blue! That's because, back then, I felt there were no blue beer labels on store shelves. The original idea was to have surfers who were members of a warrior tribe. Initially, it was more a "Superhero" concept. I drew lots sketches for this one and, for me, the most interesting part was incorporating Mayan masks into the illustration. I could kind of hear a tribal soundtrack and some growling coming from these masks and it was meant to be a representation of warrior spirits constantly fighting amongst themselves. That idea did come across and the label has since become a classic. Actually, the design has received a lot of praise on several beer blogs in Europe and the United States.

Albert 3

Isaac asked me to make suggestions to recast the image of one of their beers. I wanted to draw a guinea pig monkey like the ones the Americans and the Russians sent into space to do tests before the astronauts went there themselves.

Most of these monkeys never came back to Earth and I found it comical to imagine that these primates may have ended up on a festive planet where space amazons dance all night long! Albert, the 3e of the name, definitely looks pleased to find himself where he is, a pint in his hand and a shady look! It is also a direct reference to tourist advertising illustrations from the beginning of the last century.

Aldred

John Edward Aldred is an important historical figure in Quebec. In 1898, he built the province's first hydro-electric station in Shawinigan. I thought it would be interesting to illustrate him proudly posing in front of the dam he built.

I also added a touch of vintage science-fiction imagery into the drawing by incorporat-ing giant robots installing electric power lines in the background. They're the same power lines that criss-cross the whole province today and that help provide Quebecers with clean energy. I like to think Aldred was the Howard Hughes of the energy sector. vintage with, in the background, the giant robots that plant the first electric poles in the scenery.

These are the famous poles that punctuate Quebec in full, those who provide us with clean energy. I imagine Aldred as a Howard Hughes kind of energy sector.

La Bretteuse

This label is a direct reference to Lewis Caroll's novel, Alice in Wonderland. However, in my image, there's a twist to the story and the roles are reversed. Alice, now an adult, takes control of time, not the White Rabbit.

The back of the label reads, "Time is not something we receive, it's something we take." This quote is accompanied with a second drawing where we see Alice impaling the white Rabbit with his own sword. That second illustration was a request from Isaac.


PHOTO CREDITS

Anthony Jourdain, Catherine Côté, Fred Jourdain, Martin Poulin, Martin Côté

Share this article

Ó The contents of this publication may not be reproduced without the consent of the author