CINCINNATI – Reds fans, this Bud really is for you.
Budweiser began selling special-edition Cincinnati Reds beer cans on Monday, a week in advance of Opening Day. The cans, designed by local artist and illustrator Zack Mueller, celebrate the Queen City’s baseball history.
Mueller said Budweiser asked him to design the Reds can label after seeing his portfolio online late last year.
“It was a huge surprise and very much an honor to be a part of it,” said Mueller, a senior graphic designer at Landor who lives in Covington. “I have a lot of work on my website, including things that I created in the name of baseball."
Mueller’s Reds-centric label features Mr. Redlegs' iconic handlebar mustache and pillbox hat, the city’s skyline and the tagline “Big Red Machine.”
His work is part of a series of cans Budweiser commissioned this season in conjunction with Major League Baseball to celebrate America’s favorite pastime.
Other teams depicted in the series include the Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland Athletics, Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers. Budweiser selected a local artist from each team’s hometown to design can labels.
The cans, including the one paying homage to the Reds, are available at stores in each respective market through October.
"Baseball and the culture it created is a true celebration of the American spirit," said Ricardo Marques, vice president of Budweiser, in a news release. "This year, we wanted to leverage our long-standing partnership with MLB to raise a toast to the fans by giving them a piece of their hometown to enjoy right in the palm of their hand with our MLB designed team cans."
Mueller said his fascination with the Reds started when his family moved from Colorado to Greater Cincinnati when he was 10 years old.
“I’ve been a fan of the Reds for 20 years,” he said. “I’ve been a baseball fan for as long as I can remember, pretty much as long as I’ve been an artist."
Mueller also previously participated in the 199C Opening Day art show, which design firm BLDG has hosted on the weekend before Opening Day for the past couple of years. However, he will be out of town for this year’s 199C show, which will take place 6-10 p.m. Saturday at BLDG’s gallery, at 30 W. Pike St. in Covington.
Mueller said Budweiser gave only one guideline for the can design: It had to include the “Big Red Machine” tagline.
“I got sketching right away,” he said. “From start to finish I did six to seven drafts. As an artist, it's nice because it's expected you will bring your own style and taste. I still feel like my finished piece hasn’t changed that much from my first napkin sketch.”
Mueller said he drew inspiration from early 1900s advertisements for the can’s lettering to reflect the Reds' long history.
“I crafted all the letter forms from scratch,” he said. “I looked at a lot of stuff from Procter & Gamble ads and old brewing ads at the time. I was inspired by the era that Red Stockings began.”
Cincinnati's 2015 MLB All-Star Game festivities also influenced his design, Mueller said.
“I had a chance to be around for that All-Star Game. The Scripps Center decorated with the handlebar mustache and pillbox cap was an inspiration as well,” he said.
For his work, Budweiser awarded Mueller a six-month supply of beer and recorded a video with him at Great American Ball Park about his can design. Mueller said he was not told when the video would be released online.
“My friends and family have been all excited and supportive,” Mueller said. "We all go together to games each year. And of course my dad was a graphic designer before me. He got me into baseball. I know my dad was very proud as well.
“Cincinnati being the first baseball team is something that I’ve always been fascinated with,” Mueller said. "We are a baseball city. It is part of our DNA.”