Swedish Karl Grandin is a multifaceted, super talented, incredibly creative designer and art director. Cult fashion label Cheap Monday owe to him the brand’s unique style and imagery, Karl having cofounded it. Karl is perhaps best known for his radical art-brewery project, in which his team uses beer bottles and recipes as a vessel for artistic expression. Started in 2010 "with a shared vision of changing the perception of beer — forever", Omnipollo is an ambitious, exciting and engaging project, and just by looking at their products you can tell how much fun they have designing them. Karl caught up with us lately to talk about his Grafik Editions poster, his plans for the future, and to tell us a bit about the workings of Omnipollo. You can buy his Grafik Editions print here.
What inspired the imagery for your Grafik Editions print?
It started with a daydream vision of living, twirling mammoth tusks. I wanted to break the it down to basic forms and light and something enjoyable to draw.
What was the path in your life that lead you towards graphic design and illustration?
As a kid I had a huge appetite for comics and the worlds Robert Crumb, John Byrne and Jack Kirby were very important to me growing up. The one artwork that has influenced me the most is a painting of the Devil from the medieval book Codex Gigas, ‘the Devil’s Bible’. I first saw this giant manuscript on display at the National Library in Stockholm and the image had a huge impact on me as a child. It opened up the door to Hieronymus Bosch, surrealism and visionary art and is still living in my imagination.
You have uniquely used Omnipollo beer to make political statements, and you’ve said in the past that "We don’t look at Omnipollo as just a business or the products as just products. The products are our art”. What initially inspired you to use beer as a vector for artwork? And are the flavours as expressive as the packaging, in your opinion?
The Omnipollo images, whether on labels, cans, bottles, in bars or in shows, are part of a world that is slowly changing, expanding and evolving. They express my thoughts, reflecting both inner and outer space.I'm interested in work that defies definition and try to ignore the divides between product, fine art, design, sculpture and still and moving image. A drawing I originally did for a magazine might appear in an art show, as a wallpaper or in an animated pattern. I try not to make distinctions between commissioned and autonomous work but rather approach every project as an opportunity to try out something new. Different projects feed off each other, one bringing inspiration and energy into the next one.
Can you describe to me the process of creating an Omnipollo product, from the beer, to the process behind the concept and art?
Instead of making artwork that would describe or portray the style or taste of a beer, I try to capture something less obvious and focus on the vibe. There is always a synergy between the concoction, the artwork and the name, sometimes straight forward and more cryptic at times. Every Omnipollo design has an individual concept and narrative, but together they build on a greater story.
We brew the Omnipollos in several different breweries on Earth and hence I work with a variety of formats, shapes, sizes, producers and techniques. Instead of applying a strict coherent graphic design identity in the traditional sense I try to explore personal expressions, focusing on creating a more loose visual world.We don’t have any specific target audience and I am well aware that by expressing ourselves philosophically and politically, making beer that is different from the norm and dressing it in unusual ways we might not attract everyone — and that’s ok!
I hope to stimulate the the imagination of the viewer and, by suggesting ideas and have the viewer interpret and dream along with the visuals and feeling of the art, make them into co-creators.
Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
This spring we opened up our Willy Wonka-eque Omnipollo brewery in an old church in Stockholm and I’m currently working on the interiors for its upcoming tap room together with the amazing designer Fredrik Paulsen. One of the main pieces in the space will be a number if large neon light pieces.
I am also doing a show together with the musician Jonas Pettersson in a meditation space in Stockholm.
Those are two collaborations that I am excited to start working on!
The world is still upside down but I hope we will find new angles. ☮