Firestone Walker’s Lion & Bear have come fully alive at our Propagator R&D brewhouse and taproom in Venice, by way of righteous new mural created by local LA artist, Rabi. We caught up with Rabi to learn more about his creative process, the beauty of public art and why he was all in on this singular project:
What is the appeal of creating art in public spaces and is the approach different than working on a canvas?
In the public, you must be prepared for the public’s reaction day one and that’s a huge part of painting in public spaces. So, I think that’s the biggest difference. You can be very personal when you’re in the studio. You have no choice but to be public in public.
How did the different aspects of this project serve as an inspiration for your design? Whether that be the Firestone Walker brand, the location, and the community.
There is a clear narrative that is the Firestone Walker story. It’s the relationship between the lion and the bear. “Beer Before Glory,” the tagline as well, but interpreted in my style, my look, and it became a great balance between the two of us. I think it turned out well.
Would you say that fits with the Firestone Walker location in Venice and the community?
Oh yeah. You have a traditional sort of statuesque lion and bear, which gives it more of a timeless solidified stone feel, that feeling of traditional sculpture; and then you have some bright, progressive wild color which is Venice: popping, wild, fun. Then you have the gold lettering, which gives it sort of an in between, like a gold flake or there’s a timeless aspect to that but there’s also a modern aspect, which is the marriage of typography and figurative imagery. There’s a beautiful balance that feels like something more modern.
How do photography, color and other artistic elements play a part in your creative process?
Before I do anything, I like to deep dive and do R&D, right? Research and development. I go in and I find references and imagery that, in the end, help create the final product. It’s like ingredients for a beer. You find the best ingredients and it creates the best taste and that’s exact what we did. I went and scoured examples of lions and bears and found the perfect sort of dynamic duo of those two creatures and then same with the colors. And even the colors, they look like they’re more organic, but they’re truly referenced.
I think it’s fitting to what you do here in Venice, because this is the R&D site of Firestone Walker, where recipe development comes together. You trial all these concoctions and then send it up to your main headquarters in Paso Robles to brew the next Firestone Walker release. The fact that I’ve gone through a similar process to trial and test all those things and put it all together and then you release it out to public is really cool.
What do you hope will resonate with people about the mural?
I guess I would say first that I have no control over what people think of it. With the public, you have to be prepared for people to love or hate or both, which is usually the case. But what I hope the mural can act as is like an olive branch to people who don’t know anything about Firestone Walker, but then see the mural and see that they’re doing something creative and connecting with people in a different way. It’s bridging a gap to create some sort of influence and hopefully an invitation for the community. It’s like, “Hey, we’re here. We’ve been here and if you don’t know about us, this is what we’re about.”
Is there this regionality within muralists that you’re proud to be from LA or that you’re part of the local area?
For sure. I think having painted all over the world and meeting artists that are from different parts of the world, doing the same thing, muralists that travel and paint, you really get to see what it’s like leaving your home and the respect that you get, and the perspective you get when you return home. It’s a taste of something new.
So in turn I think that’s cool for a Californian brewery like Firestone Walker to be collaborating with local artists from their own backyard. People know the Firestone name all over the world but there’s always a deeper connection with your local roots. Which is crazy because I lived in Santa Barbara. I went up north to SLO all the time. I have always been a part of that culture. This coastal, California culture. I’m recognized from Northern to Southern California, and all over the world, but really this is my home and people know that. I’ve known of Firestone beer for a long time. I drink Firestone beer. 805, my area code’s 805. It really is. So, it couldn’t have been a better collaboration.