We’re not going to pretend to know a lot (anything) about the craft beer scene in Romania but Hop Hooligans beer labels really caught our eye. They have a real sinister yet playful vibe.
We were intrigued so we reached out to Diana Barbu, the illustrator behind the artwork to find out more about her creative process, Hop Hooligans and the craft beer scene in Romania.
For our readers who don’t know you (yet!), can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Diana Barbu – a curious, self-taught illustrator, who ran away from the big city life to pursue her dream as a freelance illustrator. I’m currently working and slow living in my hometown Târgu Jiu, Romania and I’m also the designer behind Hop Hooligans’ beer labels.
For anyone not familiar with Hop Hooligans, can you tell us a little about the brewery?
Hop Hooligans is a microbrewery founded in 2016 in Bucharest by three good friends who decided to produce their own bold recipes of high quality craft beer. Their ongoing series of products consists of 40 flavourful beers and counting. They also beguile girls by putting sencha tea leaves into their beers. 😊
How did you get involved designing their labels?
They found me through some mutual friends who recommended me as an illustrator. Their proposal came via Facebook messenger in 2016. I had already moved away from Bucharest so we didn’t meet in real life until a few months after we started working together. We just clicked, so it’s really nice – it’s a real pleasure to work for them and our collaboration just flows.
Can you tell us a little about the creative process?
Cristian and his partner Mircea come up with the beer names. They send the name explaining how the idea came about and sometimes they even send some references such as movies or books. I take all the information, analyse, research and come up with a design. Aside from the title, there are some brilliant stories on the side of the labels.
What inspires you to create the characters on the labels?
Although the team gives me direction, sometimes the titles and the stories make me think of other references from my cultural background. Characters from real life, movies or cartoons inspire me a lot. Fortunately, our jokes and artistic taste are quite similar so there are hardly any disagreements regarding the final design. The only rule is that the characters must always be mischievous.
Which one has been your favourite so far?
I’ve designed 32 so far with more on the way; there are many favourites, especially the most recent ones because my style has evolved along the way and the labels have become more detailed over time. I really enjoyed creating “Why the long face”… that horse is hilarious.
Are you a fan of any other designers in the beer world?
What’s the craft beer scene like in Romania?
Right now we’re having a craft beer boom and people are loving it. There are craft beer festivals all summer long, there are craft beer bars and hipster, organic coffee places that also sell beer, but only craft beer. It’s nice because people are starting to consume good quality beer and by doing so they are supporting local microbreweries while making healthier choices. Back to basics!
Can you recommend some other Romania beers, breweries or bars for us?
In Bucharest, you can find craft beer in almost every cool bar but I’ll name some that are beer-oriented like Romanian Craft Beer Bar – Fabrica de Bere Buna, Beer O’Clock, La 100 de Beri, Zeppelin Pub.
Viniloteca is one of the hippest places in Timisoara where you can find not only great beer but also a nice collection of vinyl. In Cluj, there is Blend, Brews & Bites. There is also Berero Store, an online shop specialising in craft beer.
Can we get Hop Hooligans beers in the UK?
Are you a fan of beer? If so, which is your favourite Hop Hooligans beer?
I didn’t like beer until I tried Hop Hooligans. I’m not a fan of IPAs, but I love the flavourful ones that contain coffee, chocolate or fruit. Sencha is definitely my favourite!
While we have you… Do you have any local favourite pizzerias you’d recommend for anyone visiting the area?
You can see more of Diana’s awesome work over on Behance.