Straight Outa Maine: Bissell Brothers, where it all started. / by Heidi Geist

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I’ve been working angles of the restaurant and beverage industries as long as most, having started in high school-21 years ago, oddly enough- working at a local (Nampa, ID) fast food joint, and growing into serving positions, cooking, baking, general food prep, etc. I’ve worked the retail side, in grocery, managed a bottle shop in Maine. Paralleling this with various creative undertakings, often in and around the restaurant industry.

My first art showing was in Gorham, ME in the early winter of 2009, at the Gorham Grind-a beloved village coffee shop. At that time, in my late 20s, I was already two kids, and a marriage deep, and starting to really unravel years of fraudulent self misdirection.

Art was my saving grace.

I’ve been crafting since I can remember, along with passionately obsessing over the piano and miscellaneous musical opportunities, but it wasn’t until 2008 that I started to paint. It was as though an infinite well of creative energy had been penetrated…under the surface, my real self had been lying dormant, through the ebb and flow of parenting and marital demands.

The inevitable divorce was riding the fence line at this time and with one thing leading to the next, I soon found myself living in an art studio with some talented and loving friends.

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I couldn’t cork this newfound creative ravenousness, and managed to keep finding platforms for releasing, or, unleashing myself onto the world. From working with a local glass blower to tediously paint layered works onto glass dishes, to selling mediocre paintings on the streets of Portland, to blacklight backdrops for live music performance, to mural work for local food and beverage companies…I had no particular niche, but it was amazing—having no walls.

Artwork for collaborative saison between Calle Cimarrona of Costa Rica and KCBC of Brooklyn, NY

Artwork for collaborative saison between Calle Cimarrona of Costa Rica and KCBC of Brooklyn, NY

In 2015 and 2016, I was working as beer buyer and manager of a craft beer and wine shop just outside Portland, and incredibly slammed with shows and commissions. Working with a new tiki bar on a custom bar top and wall art, painting all new work for an exhibition at another coffee/beer bar, and new work for a neighborhood cafe, all at the same time. It was around this time that Peter Bissell, co-owner with brother Noah, of the rapidly growing Bissell Brothers Brewing, in Portland, reached out to me about doing art for a beer label.

I was chest deep in really learning the ins and outs of beer, and like most New England craft beer drinkers, a fan of the wildly popular IPA, the Substance… and jumped on this opportunity. The beer was Diavoletto, a super session with big flavor. The design morphed quite a bit, unsurprisingly, from a very literal iteration of the devil (the term diavoletto translates to something like “little devil”…a bit oxymoronic, depending on your interpretation of the devil), to what ultimately became the final work-a pen drawn geometric piece, with lots of overlapping layers and sharp angles….married with the colors of your 1989 Macintosh….to project the feel of a vague and contradictory foreboding, but for the palate, a large flavor profile.

It didn't take me long to realize that I could make beer labels my thing…my bacon.

After some pretty…for best choice of words…f u c k e d u p…happenings at the bottle shop, on behalf of the owner to myself, it became clear that I make the leap.

Bissell Brothers

So, I have been powering through the world of craft beer for the past few years now, hanging art and making labels, for breweries around Maine, across the country…and one in Costa Rica :)

My most frequent and most familial client now has been Bissell Brothers. To date I have created something like 13 works of art for Bissell beer. Not all of these have been released, as couple are part of a series-Sigil. Peter does much of the design work for their company, and most of the labels we have done have been a collaborative effort, with his tweaking of my art…adding color to my black ink work, and doing the final layout for all labels.

Bissell hit the market hot and through a genuine passion for the industry and beyond, they have managed to keep their demand high and customers happy. This company values the arts and the local community and is always seeking to find ways to give back. You will see them fueling local charities and thriving in unique events out on the point. There’s no settling for Bissell Brothers. The future is always something to behold…with potential in new beer recipes and ventures, and especially now, with the addition of their sister location in home town of Milo, ME, Bissell Brothers Three Rivers-named for the three rivers of Sebec, Piscataquis, and Pleasant, that run through Milo and surrounding towns.

In Maine, we are all family. Breweries are neighbors…owners are friends, often having actually grown up with one another. The taprooms of Maine are more like living rooms, where everyone feels comfortable. I couldn’t be more grateful to have these guys as not only a client of mine, but sponsor of the 48 Beer Project!


Artwork I have done for Bissell Brothers:

Diavoletto | Angels with Filthy Souls 2016, 2017, 2018 | Seed 2016 | Preserve and Protect | Lager Bier

Sigil series | Belfry-collab with Stroudwater Distillery, Maine