LITTLE CURRENT – When it comes to the battle to stand out from the crowd there is no better ally than a talented graphic artist. Manitoulin Brewing Company (MBC) found just such an ally when they began collaborating with Island graphic artist Kendra Edwards of Kendra Edwards Design.
“We had been working with a graphic artist from Sudbury when we learned Kendra was on the Island and did great work,” said MBC co-owner Blair Hagman. “It was great that we could take her on so we could support local.”
First out of the chute was a label for the company’s lager, Haweater Brew. “We were really impressed,” said Mr. Hagman. “Kendra had done some other work for us as well and she took on Killarney Cream Ale. Her artwork is some of the most impressive pieces of branding.”
Mr. Hagman explained that Ms. Edwards’ ability to create eye-catching artwork is critical in the highly competitive craft beer industry. “When your product is on the shelf in one of the larger LCBO stores you really need to stand out,” he said. “Our branding is all about landmarks of Manitoulin.” So the artwork not only has to be eye-catching, but also tell the Manitoulin story.
“Her artwork is so outstanding that we have also had great success with posters featuring her labels,” said Mr. Hagman. “They are vintage Manitoulin posters that people love to take to the cottage or home.” The posters are printed on canvas and the art deco retro styling make a great addition to any wall.
Two of Ms. Edwards’ label designs, Ten Mile Point and Haweaters Brew will both be in the early summer 2021 edition of the LCBO’s popular ‘Food & Drink magazine’.
“I have lived on Manitoulin Island since I was two,” said Ms. Edwards, “so I can’t claim the title of ‘Haweater,’ but I do have a connection to the Island that is permanent and meaningful. I grew up in a household of artists and we were always outside exploring different areas of the Island and the North Shore. You can travel from one end to the other and see the diversity of landscapes across the way. When the opportunity came about to work with MBC I was thrilled at the thought of being able to display some of the beautiful areas of Manitoulin and the North Shore on packaging that would reach the hands of many beer enthusiasts across the province and beyond.”
Ms. Edwards grew up the daughter of Richard and Barbara Edwards who own Kagawong’s Edwards Art Studios. “I have always been an ‘arts kid,’ picking up a pencil or pen and observing the environments around me and working on projects that were important to myself and the people around me,” she said. “This love of fine art and the fondness of collaboration guided me to pursuing a degree in communications and in 2014 I graduated with honours from the University of Ottawa.”
Her university experience proved invaluable in pursuing a career in graphic art. “I was able to explore a diverse range of techniques and practices that allowed me to package information and connect it with diverse audiences effectively and with specific goals in mind,” she said. After moving back to the Island following university, Ms. Edwards worked with 4elements Living Arts.
“While at 4e I became enamoured with the idea of creating art for clients to help their business goals. This led to starting my freelance graphic design business in 2015. Since then I have worked on hundreds of projects creating meaningful design solutions and experiences for brands and audiences.”
Ms. Edwards’ work distinguishes itself through a bold, minimalist style and colour combinations. This paired with her ability to listen and explore information allows her to provide a service to Northern businesses, boosting their visual profile to be seen and admired.
“Graphic design is the combination of art and problem-solving,” said Ms. Edwards. “While graphic design provides a creative outlet, you are also forming relationships between ideas and reality and improving the connections between people, products and services. Each new client offers a chance to explore the inner workings of a different business. I love working with people who are endlessly passionate about what they do.”
As for her work with MBC, Ms. Edwards said the experience has been very rewarding.
“I have been fortunate to be collaborating with Blair and Nishin (Meawasige) of MBC since 2018. We started with the Killarney Cream Ale label design, which has been held in high regard in taste and visual appeal by many beer enthusiasts.”
Ms. Edwards notes that the Ten Mile Point label design was finalized in December 2020 and is now available on the shelves of both Island LCBO outlets and at MBC’s retail outlet at 43 Manitowaning Road. “There will be another great series launching soon that I am very excited about,” teased Ms. Edwards. “I had a lot of artistic freedom with this series and used a lot of playful colours.”
Full disclosure, Ms. Edwards works for The Expositor in the advertising design department where she puts her considerable talents to work on behalf of this paper’s advertisers.
“Manitoulin Brewing Company is incredibly lucky, just as we are, to have Kendra Edwards’ creative services in their arsenal,” said Manitoulin Publishing president Alicia McCutcheon. “This newest can in the MBC lineup, for the Ten Mile Point Pilsner, proves just that. Her use of colour, eye-catching fonts and masterful layout proves why time and again Kendra is winning awards and accolades.”