Friday Five with artist Ian Vandenberg

Welcome to the first Hops & Spirits Friday Five, where we ask five questions to interesting people in the alcohol world.

Our first spotlight is on Ian Vandenberg, better known as Southern Capworks. Ian combines two of his favorite things, art and beer, to create unique and recycled beer bottle cap mosaics. He’s on instagram: @southerncapworks; Facebook: Southern Capworks; and online at www.southerncapworks.com.

1) How did you get into bottle cap art?
I used to work for a brewery in my home state of Louisiana called Abita Brewing and had access to boxes of bottle caps there. If a box got dropped or opened in an unsterile environment, they would be trashed, and so I saw that trash as treasure and wanted to do something artistic with them. Abita at that time had 13 different color bottle caps, where most breweries might have 2 colors if you’re lucky. So I was in the right place at the right time and had access to a bunch of colored caps to make something out of. I spent a couple years while working at Abita, making my first piece of bottle cap art, which was a pretty large pelican containing about 1,800 flattened bottle caps in all 13 colors. I still have that piece today in my dining room at home. 

Ian Vandenberg

2) How many bottle caps can you go through making your art?
I probably average about 50,000 bottle caps a year creating all my consignment pieces. I recently created an 8 foot tall by 12 foot wide logo for Revolver Brewing in Dallas that has 22,000 bottle caps in it. I have easily flattened and used a half million caps at this point in the 10 to 11 years of doing this professionally.  

3) Have you always been artistic? And do you do other types of art?
I have definitely always been artistic. I am more of a graphic designer by trade, having done design engineering for the majority of my career, but I spent 10 years designing houses for a couple of architectural firms back in Louisiana. Those involved some hand drawing and sketching, but all very technical drawings. I’m not one to really pick up a paintbrush and just paint something. 

4) What’s your favorite beer style? And do you have a favorite brewery?
My favorite beer style is definitely a DDH East Coast IPA, but I have been getting into some fruited sours lately. My favorite brewery, right now, is probably Urban South. I grew up about a mile from their original brewery in New Orleans and always loved them back when I lived there, but after moving to Houston about 4 years ago, Urban South opened another location here and I go there every chance I get. 

5) What’s your favorite piece you’ve created so far? Or some of your most memorable works?
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite just because I am so critical of all my work, but a pretty memorable one is a piece I literally just finished this week. It’s a 36”x48” logo for a new brewery here in the Houston area called Misfit Outpost. The logo is a giant skull, but I did something with this one that I have never tried before by introducing lighting. Where the skull’s eyes, nose and mouth are, I used some acrylic that is made for being back lit and appears black when not lit, but absorbs the LED lights I installed inside the piece itself. The lights can be controlled with an app right there at the brewery, and be changed to any color, as well as various scenes and even flash to the music in the room. Took a ton of engineering to make it work, but the piece turned out great. 

Ian is available by email at southerncapworks@gmail.com. Feel free to reach out for commissions.

Misfit Outpost Skull Logo

Published by Jonathan Greene

Jonathan Greene is the host of the Hops & Spirits Podcast. Jonathan loves craft beer, whiskey and telling great stories.

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