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Chicago artwork on Beck's beer label

  • Willy Chyr, Chicago artist, poses with the Beck's Beer logo he's designed.
Willy Chyr, Chicago artist, poses with the Beck's Beer logo he's… (Photo courtesy Sebastian…)
May 07, 2012|By Georgia Garvey, RedEye

Chicagoans sipping a cold one on a rooftop bar this summer might unexpectedly find themselves staring at artwork by a local artist on their Beck's beer bottle.

Willy Chyr, 24, of Logan Square, was one of the six artists picked by Beck's to design a label that "celebrated independent thinking," according to Chris Curtis, brand manager for Anheuser-Busch InBev, which owns Beck's. The beer brand has featured artwork on labels in the U.K., New Zealand and Germany before, Curtis said, but this will be a first for American consumers.

"What we were really looking for is art that was crafted by people who are doing really interesting and groundbreaking work" but might not be household names, Curtis said. "Willy is a perfect example of that."

Chyr, who said he moved to Chicago to attend the University of Chicago in 2005, designed a colorful label featuring one of his signature media – balloon sculptures.

"I usually work with sculptures," he said. "It's a very different canvas for me to be working in [so] I wanted to sort of take advantage of this medium."

Chyr's inspiration for the piece, which he named "A Glimpse of Something Ephemeral," was the microscopic photos you might see in "middle-school textbooks," with a twist:

"I wanted it to look like that at first," he said. "But when you look closer, you say, 'Wait a minute. This is made out of balloons."

Chyr's no stranger to unusual pairings with art: He has a firm grounding in science, having earned both physics and economics degrees, and he does 3D renderings using computer software. The Beck's project, which had few restrictions (artists only had to adhere to the "independent thinking" inspiration), thrilled Chyr by putting art into real life.

"Having [a beer label] be this, sort of, pathway to art, I think it's so much more exciting than people going to this opening in a white-cube gallery and there's this statement about 'space and our relationship to that.' It's much more accessible," he said. "I think that's what's really exciting."

Beck's beer with the artwork labels will be on shelves from May 7 to August.

ggarvey@tribune.com | @gcgarvey

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