Featured Designer: Leigh Pearce, Cloak + Dagger

Leigh is the designer from the trio behind Cloak + Dagger. He spent his formative years fraternising with graffiti artists, listening to rap records and watching gory horror films and B movies – all of which have influenced the look of Cloak + Dagger’s artwork.

We fell in love with Cloak + Dagger’s design early on in the research for the book. There’s such a vibrant consistency to the look and feel, and we love the laid-out label artwork as much as we love the look of the cans on the shelf. The design fizzes with personality and we wanted to know more about the designer behind the brand.

We caught up with Leigh, who talked us through his thought process when designing for Cloak + Dagger:

“As creative director and partner of Lolly Studio, a design and animation agency working with clients including Coca-Cola, easyJet and the World Health Organization, I rose to the challenge of creating artwork that would ensure Cloak + Dagger’s cans stand out in a crowded fridge or on a bottle shop shelf. Not an easy task, but a fun process.

“The names of our beers are abstract and not descriptive in terms of style, strength or colour. Often our names rhyme – this comes from my hip-hop background and experience of writing rap lyrics. I enjoy the syllabic sound the names make: Komodo Bozo, Galactic Catnip, Gigantic Antics, Routes to Pluto.

“Visual consistency across Cloak + Dagger’s range is achieved with a design based on increments of 45-degree angles and a strong but minimal colour palette. Black and white are core colours, then I add two vibrant secondary colours to help distinguish each beer.

My passion for golden-era hip-hop resonates through our artwork. Komodo Bozo for instance makes a nod to Pharoah Monch’s Godzilla soundtrack-sampling rap anthem ‘Simon Says’, with a snippet of the song’s lyrics also gracing the can.  All cans feature similar lyrics and messaging.

The bold style of the artwork is influenced by graffiti. I often use dots, broad strokes and highlights and light flares, albeit in a vectorised format, all techniques employed by my subway art heroes. Most designs are character-based, which is a core element of my illustration style.”

Leigh also showed us how the design for each can develops from early sketches to the final image on the can.

Leigh adds: “The language is confident, conversational and waffle free, right through to the standard informational messages on the can: “Yo, please delight in our beers responsibly” & “Recycle=Karma”.

Some other things we wanted to know about Leigh:

Where you trained: After finishing my Foundation in Brighton I went on to Central Saint Martins In London for a BA course in Art and Design. I left after the first year as it wasn’t the right fit for me. Came back to Brighton, ran a pub and reassessed. So I guess you could say I’m self-trained.
Design influences: I get a lot of my influence from 80’s and early 90’s street culture, skateboard graphics, subway art, Charlie Harper and Sesame Street 😁
Apart from Cloak & Dagger, what’s your favourite brewery and why: Our local heroes Burning Sky because they make all kinds of delicious beer in many styles. When I can’t get Komodo Bozo, I seek out Arise.
Favourite pub or bar: The Cloak Room. It’s the Cloak and Dagger taproom / canteen in Brighton. www.cloakroombrighton.com
Favourite bar snack: Beerkins (fried pickles)
What you’re currently listening to: Flicking between Sault – Untitled (Black Is) & Lord Goat – Final Expenses. 
Cats or dogs? Cats.

Check out Leigh’s Instagram page.


Published by beerbydesign

Beer widow, picture researcher, author- and dog-wrangler.

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