A denizen of Eau Claire may have caught glimpses of Lucas Gluesenkamp's art on t-shirts and posters printed by local screen-printing company Ambient Inks. Gluesenkamp, a 2007 Art & Design graduate with a B.F.A. in Illustration, currently has poster art for local band Whale House appearing in the Foster Gallery's exhibition Color. His work had previously appeared in the gallery in an alumni exhibition and has also been curated into exhibitions by none other than Wes Anderson.
Gluesenkamp recently joined Bad Weather Brewing Company, an entrepreneurship in St. Paul, MN, where he applied his skills in illustration to create labels for their draft beers as well as develop a large mural for their newly opened brewpub. Ned Gannon, professor in Illustration, reached out to him to learn more about this opportunity.
Regarding illustrative label creations for the brewery, Gluesenkamp commented, "I had said early on in the breweries inception that I did not want to do images that portrayed weather as simply a destructive force. I felt that we could portray the concept of 'bad weather' through atmosphere and [by] keeping an enigmatic eerie quality to each illustration that I hoped would draw people in closer. Each piece was intended to feel like it was a part of a larger story that your imagination will have to create." He further went on to say, "The art was always supposed to be landscape focused with just enough figurative elements to allow the viewer's mind to be grounded in the space but still free to wander. Most of those elements are the requests from the rest of Bad Weather's team. For example, we have a beer called Migration. The team wanted specifically cedar waxwings as the migratory bird. After this initial input, I am given free rein to come up with a painting that will work with the particular beer."
After creating labels, he began discussions about the large mural for the new taproom - somewhat new territory for Gluesenkamp. "There were two large challenges that hung over me as I worked on the mural; the first being scale. I had never painted anything that size before, and I was concerned that my technique would not transfer well to something that large. Every painting I do starts with several layers of transparent washes overlaying each other until I have the specific atmosphere I want. It keeps me from relying on overly detailed drawings that map things out, and instead lets the medium do most of the heavy lifting for me. This worked well, but also led to the next challenge that I was faced with: time.
"We were still months away from opening the brewery. In fact, I began painting the mural directly to the wall when it still resembled the auto repair shop it was before we took over. There was no quality lighting, except what I could get from opening the garage doors during the day. This made the time I could work on the mural dependent on where the sun was in the sky. I only had about an hour and a half of usable light a day to work on it. The restraint of usable light gave me the opportunity to step away more often and critique what was working and what was not. After about a month of this, the lighting fixtures were installed and I could see how the mural would look when the brewery was in full operation. This sped the process up significantly, and the knowledge of knowing how a space is lit will give you a great deal of direction on where emphasis needs to be versus simply making assumptions."
When asked what he might have "brewing" creatively next, Gluesenkamp stated, "My current big project is the science fiction book I am trying to finish writing and illustrating. It is inspired by the Choose Your Own Adventure books I used to read as a kid. Only on a much larger scale."
Keep your eyes open for that book in the future! In the meantime, stop by the Bad Weather taproom in St. Paul at 414 7th Street West to check out the mural and possibly pick up a t-shirt featuring his art.