Hey, artists, here’s your chance to wine

for The Brooklyn Paper
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The search is on for the Next Great Wine Bottle Artist.

But this is not some Bravo reality show — it’s an actual contest by the Williamsburg-based winery, Brooklyn Oenology, which has made a name for itself with its great wine and its great labels.

“Since we’re based in Brooklyn. I wanted the winery to be more than just wine,” said owner Ali Shaper. “And one of the great things about Brooklyn is being around all these artistic endeavors.”

The challenge? A 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. It’s dry. It’s crisp. It’s got a hint of citrus. It’s crying out for something classy, Shaper said.

Any artist endeavor will be considered for the label — except the winner must be based in Brooklyn and the label can’t feature nudity (well, there goes our entry).

“But it doesn’t have to be related to Brooklyn, just original,” Shaper said.

The deadline is Jan. 31, after which the Brooklyn Oenology staff will choose five or six finalists. Customers at Shaper’s new Tasting Room on Wythe Avenue will pick the winner from those finalists.

In hosting a contest, Shaper’s approach to branding is vastly different from her neighbors. Brooklyn Brewery, after all, hired internationally known graphic designer Milton Glaser to do its “B” logo (and Glaser is working with a former Brewery co-founder on labels for a new line of spirits).

Glaser, of course, was richly compensated, but Shaper may be offering something far better than cash: The winning label — which peels off so that it can live on long after the last glass has been downed — will be on a top notch wine distributed all over the country (and you know how those French chateaux are always hiring away our best wine bottle artists, so there could be a big payday down the road).

Plus, Shaper will hang the winning artist’s other work in a solo art show at the Tasting Room.

Brooklyn Oenology Tasting Room [209 Wythe Ave. between N. Third and N. Fourth streets in Williamsburg, (718) 599-1259]. Submissions must include a bio, and a web link, and be sent to by Jan. 31. For info, visit

Updated 5:22 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

VitaBellaWine from Paris says:
Great initiative! VitaBella Wine Daily Gossip brings together some articles exclusively about Wine, read on the internet over the last 24 hours. This is a good article selected today by
Jan. 18, 2011, 12:48 pm
Derek from Cobble Hill says:
Design contests are total B.S. What other profession would anyone ever accept people offering work in which you spend the time but have no guarantee of being paid?!?

There are many many good designers and artists in Brooklyn alone. You don't need to hold a contest for a good bottle design. And you notice that Brooklyn Brewery HIRED Milton Glaser. Sure, he's famous and surely expensive, but there is a ton of talent in Brooklyn which could come at a reasonable price.

The prospect of doing something for free which MIGHT result in someone getting PAID work in the "future" is total garbage. And you know what? Most of the time it never happens!

Seriously, shame on Brooklyn Oenology. You are making money off selling wine but you are too cheap to hire an artist to do the work. I expect this kind of devaluing of creative professionals to happen but to see it from people who are FROM the best city in the country for creative talent makes me sick.
Jan. 18, 2011, 3:41 pm
Dave from Clinton Hill says:
1 to the above, seriously c'mon!
Jan. 18, 2011, 6:55 pm
Craine from 'Burg says:
Sorry Derek / Dave, I can't go there with you. Seems to me Brooklyn Oenology is appreciating the art - and the artist - and providing an expanded oppty for its appreciation. Surely this helps the artists. And no autonomy is removed from the artist either if they otherwise retain rights, etc.

And, how do you know how / if the artists are being compensated? While a comparison is made to Glaser, there's nothing to say that the winner won't be compensated in some form - in addition to exposure, etc. Oh, and the Brooklyn Oenology website seems to indicate there a gallery at this winery where work of the label artists can be sold, providing additional benefits.

This all seems pretty good to me. C'mon.
Feb. 15, 2011, 10:50 am
Alie Shaper from Williamsburg says:
Hi, this is Alie Shaper, owner/winemaker of Brooklyn Oenology.

To clarify how Brooklyn Oenology's bottle design and this contest works:

This contest is not for the entirety of the winery's brand. The basic bottle design was created by myself and a hired paid professional graphic designer over four years ago, including the logo, and the common brick and black sidebar that appears on all of our bottles.

As you can see in the photo accompanying the article, there are many bottles in the picture, and the one I am holding has the logo and sidebar on it, with the artwork to the right of the sidebar. This portion of the label is occupied by selections of artworks composed by Brooklyn artists; these works are not sought out to be created on commission. They are all pre-existing pieces that are already a part of the artists' portfolios.

My approach is one of collaboration. For the last four years, I have sought out artists to work with them to include their non-commissioned pieces on the labels. The idea behind Brooklyn Oenology was to work with, and be a part of, the artistic community, and make the wine an expression of the community from which it comes. When I've chosen to work with an artist, it is with commitment to them, and I make a point of understanding his technique and study. I speak about the artists and techniques when I travel with the wines and pour them.

For the past four years, in exchange for the license to print the artists' works on the labels, we have promoted the artists on our website in our gallery section. That includes the artists' bios, links to their online portfolios, and additional images of other works by that same person. the names of the piece and the artist is printed on every bottle. Now that our tasting room is open, we also give our label artists a solo show in the space, where their work is available for purchase by visitors to the tasting room.

Hopefully, by working together, BOE can create more awareness for the artist, spur interest, and therefore influence more sales on their behalves. That is the idea behind this label contest - to provide an opportunity to involve the public in enjoying and appreciating art, to expose the public to local artists that they may never have heard of, and to promote the great works being made here in Brooklyn - because I have pride in living in such a creatively vibrant community!

And, by the way, there is a form of compensation. Also, the artists retain all rights and ownership to the work, so they have full capability of selling the piece and making money from it. Just because this article talks about big bucks paid to Milton Glaser does not mean that these artists will get nothing.

I think of my work and winemaking as an art form, in a field that is also very crowded and highly competitive, and not as easy as it may appear. So believe me, I have full appreciation for the struggle it takes to become known for one's art.

I encourage you to come to the Tasting Room for our opening night show and party this Friday night 2/18, and show your support for these incredibly talented artists, spread the word about them, and help your fellows in their careers.
Feb. 15, 2011, 11:41 am

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