can relate to Keith Villa, founder of the Blue Moon Brewing Company. Both men followed their passions in life. For Villa, it was traveling to Belgium and studying the art of brewing, one day leading him to create Blue Moon. For Garner, it was pursuing his love of art—even though his parents urged him to study something practical, something that "makes money."
A sense of exploration paid off for both Villa and Garner. Villa built an award-winning beer company and Garner won Blue Moon's $20,000 art grant on Sept. 18.
Garner graduated with two degrees in graphic design and visual arts from Boise State University and moved to Tampa, Fla., where he now works as an art director for national branding and advertising company Spark
. The brewing company contacted him several months ago, asking him to be involved in the 20th Anniversary Artist Series
"They picked 60, then narrowed it down to 20," Garner said. "Those 20 were printed on the bottles. From there, it was a social media campaign where people could vote on their favorite labels. The top 10 went on to be judged by a panel of art critics and curators. Then, they picked me."
The artists were assigned to capture the Blue Moon story. Garner was most attracted to the founder's sense of adventure.
"I love hiking through the mountains or desert as much as I do walking around the city to absorb creative energy and inspiration," Garner wrote in his artist statement. His art piece depicts Villa on a "treasure hunt" to make a beer that was so good, it only comes "once in a blue moon."
He created an ink drawing then digitally painted, colored and textured it in a screen print style. Garner said it's the most reproduced piece of art he's ever made, showing up in Blue Moon 12-packs all over the country.
He also said the exposure from the contest will help him reach new heights as an artist. And with $20,000 in prize money, he plans to upgrade his studio and increase his workflow.
"I felt like I had already won because I was on a bottle of Blue Moon everywhere," he said. "It's fun to drink a Blue Moon with my art on the label. It makes it taste a little better."