Stories Behind the Booze: Listermann’s International Women’s Day Artists
In this special edition of Stories Behind the Booze, we sat down with three artists on an uncharacteristically warm and sunny mid-March day. The trio came together over Listermann Brewery’s International Women’s Day event to create beer label designs. The three different farmhouse ales were brewed to be sold in 4-packs, with proceeds being donated to Women Helping Women, a local organization that provides evidence-based prevention, expert crisis intervention, and support services for survivors of gender-based violence. The artwork created for the event and answers given for the interview by Katie Jaeger (Call to Farms), Kaycie Coy (Tastes Like Persistence), and Jaclin Hastings (Riveting Rosie) both match and celebrate the profound power of women everywhere.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves, and then a little bit about what brought you together.
Katie: I majored in art therapy in college and I worked with children in the foster care system. Soon after, I joined the Peace Corps and was placed in Botswana, Africa. I took Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn Initiative and made my focus female empowerment through art. While I lived there, I made murals as a teaching tool for the kids. When I returned home, Kristin, marketing manager of Listermann Brewery, reached out after seeing my work to see if I was interested in participating in the International Women’s Day project.
Kaycie: I’m originally from North Carolina. I graduated from UNC Greensboro and I’m now licensed to teach theater and English courses. I was halfway through my first year of teaching out in NC and I came to Cincinnati three years ago to visit a friend of mine from college. I spent New Years’ weekend here and I found myself sitting in her driveway at 2 a.m. in tears because I did not want to leave. I finished up my first year and then crashed on her couch for a couple months, making and saving money, and now I’m an executive assistant at Kroger. I met Kristin at a Women Helping Women event and when she brought up the idea, I told her it’d be cool if one of the labels featured The Flaming Slingshot, which is ultimately what my design became. This project was my way of putting myself out there and trying something new.
Jaclin: I am a tattoo artist at White Whale Tattoo in Walnut Hills. I heard about this project when they did it last year through my neighbors at White Whale, Landlocked Social House, who have Listermann beer on tap every so often, and I decided to participate again this year.
What was the creative process for designing your beer label?
Katie: There is a sense of collaboration at Listermann – they want to get people from the community in here. When I agreed to do the project, they asked if I would help brew the beer, too. So, I actually brewed the farmhouse ale, “Call to Farms.” I wanted to go with a spinoff of the “Rosie the Riveter” theme. I was doing research and found some cool World War II war posters of women, and I found one called the “Women’s Land Army,” which was a call for women to tend to their farms while their husbands were away at war. There were all these amazing images of strong women working in fields, and that’s what inspired the design. It took me forever to get it right. I painted mine, and it took me four drafts to get the strong stance and Cincy skyline in the background. It was a process, but I’m really happy with how it turned out.
Kaycie: With “Taste Like Persistence,” the original name was actually supposed to be “The Flaming Slingshot,” as an homage to the 1968 bra-burning and the protest to the Miss America Pageant that was taking place. I embraced the whole concept of women standing up for each other back then while still referencing everything going on right now. I changed the name to “Taste Like Persistence” because I realized it appeals to everyone – we’re all trying to persist and chase our basic dignities. The design features the lovely Statue of Liberty with a bandana tied over her face. On the one hand, it’s an homage to the folks who are going out and willing to do something against convention or the law. On the other hand, it represents the Statue of Liberty as the original symbol of freedom, liberty, and justice. It has elements of the WWII propaganda as well, which I really like how we all came together over that theme. Since I’m more of an amateur artist, I really appreciated Tommy Long and the gang over at Lemon Grenade. They took the rough sketch I created and ramped it up to have the right lines, thickness, and colors. That just goes to show how much of a working community we have here, especially when it comes to the arts and international brewing.
To have someone I can look up to that’s made similar mistakes, but still manages to be someone that puts important work out into the world, has changed me.
Jaclin: I just wanted to go with bold, bright colors. I also wanted to make sure it was different enough from last year’s designs. I went a slightly more light-hearted route. This year’s design was actually one I’d had last year, but didn’t pursue. I used the “Riveting Rosie” pose and then the head of the figure is just a giant hibiscus flower. When you take away the facial features, you’re no longer ascribing something to it or making it an actual person, instead, you’re giving it a specific feeling. With my personal artwork, I’ll do the same thing. I have a lot of figure artwork, but I’ll often use an animal head or the face is hidden from the viewer. It’s as if whoever is looking at the figure is in its place.
You’re personifying something to capture a certain emotion – an act of empathy through art. From what I understand, the beer label design intent is to recognize strong women. Is this a theme you see in your artwork outside this project?
Jaclin: When it comes to my personal artwork, I think about personal interactions. A lot of the time when I tattoo, I have to work through other people’s ideas, but that makes me grow as a personal artist, too, because I’m not exhausting my own personal creativity at work – it’s very separate. I also grow by having to draw every day and put people’s words out in the physical world. It’s much harder to get whatever’s going on in my head into a visual piece, but I think by doing that for other people with tattooing, it helps me process my own thoughts much quicker.
This project was my way of putting myself out there and trying something new.
Kaycie: If anything, when it comes down to my personal work, I focus more on trying to give other people a voice, especially with the different stigmas that come with gender identity or mental illness. When it comes down to what I create personally, it’s basically a voice for other people.
Katie: Feminism is definitely a theme in my life. I love being a woman. We’re just wild and magical – there’s an energy about being a woman that is so inspiring to me and I can see that theme in so many different ways. All my favorite writers are women who are not afraid to be bold and truthful about their lives. I try to encapsulate that feminine energy in my creative work, so this opportunity has been a perfect fit. It’s all things I love: getting the community together, talking about female empowerment, and ultimately, bringing women together in our city.
Words and conversation aren’t the only pathways to understanding, so artists have an endlessly important role when it comes to visually communicating information and thought. How has being an artist in Cincinnati influenced that work?
Kaycie: Unlike other places, in Cincinnati you have a voice and people to say things like, “I really like what you’re doing; come over here and give it a shot with us.” As an amateur artist, I thought it’d be harder to be a part of the arts community, but I’ve found local organizations and people who are comfortable enough to help and stand up in that space with you. Cincinnati is a mecca for self-expression, with a community that is ready to support its artists.
Katie: Piggy-backing off of that, and as a person who went to school in a different state, I feel safer in Cincinnati to be as weird as I want to be. I feel like I can just “let my freak flag fly” [laughter] and people actually like it.
Jaclin: There’s definitely room here to find community, and if there’s a community you’re lacking, it’s possible to create that, too.
I often refer to Cincinnati as the “little-big city.” I bet if we talked long enough we would find a mutual friend between us. Now, let’s time travel for a moment: Is being an artist different than what you thought it would be when you first started?
Jaclin: For me, art has always been a part of my life. My mom is a very talented woman. She was in graphic design and studied photography – she can actually do anything. My grandfather is a painter; so is my uncle. I think it was in my blood. I eventually went to school for it. I went to Savannah College of Art and Design for illustration. During school, I was always prompted for creative work. When I graduated, I wanted to keep curating shows and creating art, so I immediately hosted a show that featured 16 different artists. It was the first time that I had to think about creating work for myself. It changed art for me. It became a cathartic experience as opposed to a more professional process. I began watching people react to my art without a description from me. To see the meaning people make with my art is one of the best parts.
Kaycie: The first memory I really have is when my father took me to visit one of his high school classmates who happened to be an artist. She gave me all these beautiful pencils and paper and said, “Have at it!” From there I just kept asking my parents for sketchbooks and pens. You know how they say that the hardest thing to draw is the hand? That’s what I wanted to go for first as a kid. I wanted the challenges. I remember one day my friends were auditioning for a play; I was sitting in the auditorium with them before their auditions and the teacher said to us, “You are not allowed to be in here unless you are auditioning.” And even though back then I had severe stage fright, I went up to the stage and sang a Stevie Nicks song, “Landslide,” and I was the only one among my friends to get a part. That was the real kick toward the arts. The journey is: “Do it. Try it. Go for it.” You really can’t fail at something you’re trying to make because in the end, it’ll still be yours.
Unlike other places, in Cincinnati you have a voice and people to say things like, “I really like what you’re doing; come over here and give it a shot with us.”
Katie: My parents supported and cultivated my interested in art. As humans, I feel like we were created to create. We’re creative beings, and that creating is a natural part of existing. When I’m creating art, I’m in the moment and I’m not thinking about anything else. As an adult, I’ve tried to harness that feeling even as life continues to get busier. My work has definitely evolved and it’s going to keep evolving – life is constantly changing and so am I. Now with the internet, it’s even easier to have access to other artists’ and their work. I am the only artist out of my group of friends. They love me and support me, but I often hear them say when they see my art, “I could never do what you do.” This is such a fallacy to me. Everyone can create and should create.
How would you describe your relationship with your art now?
Kaycie: Sometimes I’m angry at it. Sometimes I’m angry that what I’m creating can come from what’s negatively affecting me and those around me. At the same time, I know that if I don’t create, it’s going to bottle up inside me and explode. I’ve gone long enough not feeling comfortable talking about how I feel with anybody. It’s time to be somebody who can help break down walls and make such conversations accessible. Art is not a façade – it’s exposing your soul.
Jaclin: Whenever I get into making my own personal art, it feels transformative. I like to work by myself and I open up completely. If I had to put a status on social media, it would be: “It’s complicated.” [Laughter.] I don’t know if I could fully describe it other than it’s like your closest friend saying, “What’s this feeling you’re facing? Channel it.” Honestly, if you don’t feel a little “gutted” in the end, then you haven’t really done anything.
Katie: My relationship with art is a love affair. Sometimes it’s super annoying and I think to myself, “I don’t want to do this. I just wanted to binge watch ‘Orange Is the New Black.’” Once I get myself there and start, I become different. I’ve noticed that: Who I was at the start is never the same as who I am when I’m finished – I’m not the same. I learn about myself and there’s this magic to it.
The relationship to art is unique for everyone. I’m hearing art is struggle, ever-changing, and a love affair. With these different relationships in mind, what would you say if you were in a conversation with a starting artist?
Jaclin: One hundred percent, don’t worry about what other people are going to think about your art. If you feel like an idea is trivial, you just have to get it out on paper and move forward. If not, it’ll just keep floating around in there. It’s important for people who are interested in art to go out to all the events they can and see everyone else’s art and really try to look at it critically and look into why they created it. It helps with processing what you want to make. Talk to the artists in your community if you can. When I’ve gone out to shows, hearing the artist’s process has made all the difference.
Katie: There’s no bad art. There’s this ideology that art can be bad and that’s just not the case. It’s true to somebody and that’s always going to be a good thing. There’s also a lot going on in your brain all the time, so every morning I wake up and I freehand three pages, and that does something to where I can get all the bullshit out of the way and make room for the good work. I’ve also learned that community is so important. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Forcing yourself to do things you’re scared of always turns out well.
Kaycie: One thing my parents always told me growing up was, “You might not always feel comfortable talking to us. Find an adult you can trust.” I have to say the same thing. If you’re not comfortable with the way you feel about your art, find a mentor. Sometimes it takes someone else seeing your potential for you to grow.
Now after all of your stories about art, community, and influence, tell us about an influential woman in your life.
Katie: I have to say my mom. She is the epitome of a strong woman. She has had a lot of curveballs in her life, but remains poised and real. She’s my favorite person of all time. Professionally, and as a human being in general, she has been someone I look to for guidance. I also look up to female writers like Cheryl Strayed, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Brene Brown. These are women who are not afraid to say the hard things, even if it’s the horrible decisions they’ve made in their lives. I’m able to connect with that because I’m not perfect. To have someone I can look up to that’s made similar mistakes, but still manages to be someone that puts important work out into the world, has changed me. I can look up to that.
Honestly, if you don’t feel a little “gutted” in the end, then you haven’t really done anything.
Jaclin: I don’t know that I can name one specific woman. I have women in my life that have been incredible mentors. I’ve had women who’ve been very difficult to be around, but I’ve gained a lot from both. Some of my closest friends who are working hard at what they’re doing and staying motivated have influenced me.
Kaycie: Since I’ve moved here, I have met so many strong women, but I have to say that one person who really hit home was at home, and that’s my mom. We’re Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. That’s us. I’ve been her rock and she’s been mine. She’s made a big impact on how I’ve thrived as a human being. As far as the arts go, I have to go with Dr. Chris Woodworth, my professor in a Feminist Theory in Theater course. I have to thank her for being the person who told me, “Go to therapy and get over your stage fright.” She encouraged me to write. I have nothing but love for that woman.
Join us April 24, 6-8 p.m., for Boozy Hour at Listermann Brewing Company. Want to read about more awesome Cincinnati happenings? Check out all of the cool places we sent our team this International Women’s Day.