As the weather warms around the country, we once again delve into the beer blogging world of Instagram with a suitably seasonal subject. While many Australian beerstagrammers are behind the lens, snapping at carefully curated cans and bottles, others are using more artistic methods.
For the final instalment in this series for 2018, Guy Southern talks with the auteur behind one of Australia’s most recognisable Instagram beer accounts: Barry Patenaude aka Beers In The Sun, for a different take on social media sharing.
How did you get into sharing your beer love on Instagram?
I’m an illustrator by trade and I’d just gotten a bunch of Posca paint pens that I wanted to use, so I thought this could be the perfect subject for me as a passion project.
I’ve always loved the beer can. Partly because of the sense of nostalgia and the lowbrow element – tins are the drinking vessel of any beer-appreciating person. Plus, I’ve found tins usually have better labels and artwork.
Obviously, you’ve taken a different path for beerstagramming. What’s your typical setup like?
It’s pretty simple, using either a real can or an image for reference. I’ll sketch the can in pencil and then colour it in using paint pens.
The super-secret trick is not to scan but photograph the drawing. It needs the light from the lamp so the silver paint on the top of the can get a gradient shine to it.
Modesty aside, can you describe your style and suggest a couple of images that best represent your account or images that have had the best response.
So the paint pens I use are quite loose and unforgiving, so nothing’s 100 percent accurate. I think that’s good. I’m not a hyperreal artist. This project is all about a loose homage.
As well as being really fun to draw with, they give the work a laid back style that, if you really want to think too deeply about it, channels the essence of sipping on a beer and soaking up the sun.
In the past, the most popular cans I’ve done have all pretty much been the mainstream classics. Think VB, Melbourne Bitter, XXXX Gold etc. But these days it’s a massive guess, and I’m always surprised by different reactions on each new post.
Changes to social media platform algorithms can create headaches when it comes to engagement. How do you stay on top of this constantly shifting digital sand? Is this something that you are even concerned about?
Not really. I love getting new followers, the more the merrier, but I’ve never been actively chasing a bigger audience, just posting pictures of beers I like or that people have requested.
What Instagram accounts do you follow and what makes them special?
There are heaps of breweries I love following for the behind the scenes stuff, finding out about new beers, labels and merchandise. Just to name a few: Grifter – who make great beers and have awesome designs all round from beer labels to coasters. Balter – another good one, really like their simple designs and inviting artists to do pieces up for t-shirts and merch.
Hashtags are synonymous with Instagram yet have zero influence on Facebook. What are some of your favourites and what’s one of the weirdest ones that you’ve seen or used?
I use minimal hashtags. Usually the location of the brewery, #beersinthesun and #cheers. I like to keep it pretty simple; I know hashtags are great for activity but not really a fan of the 200 hashtags after a post.
A lot of businesses see social media as time-consuming. How long do you typically spend on your posts and what could a new brewery do to stand out on Instagram?
As Beers in The Sun is a side project, I’m not too worried about that side of things, so posting only takes as few minutes. As long as the image size and text is right we are good to go!
How do you choose which beers to feature?
It’s great to get messages from followers with a suggestion. I’ve found a lot of beers that way.
Otherwise, if it looks good and catches the eye and will be fun to draw it will be featured. Oh, and if a brewery sends me some of their beer that always helps.
Instagram has the potential to engage brands beyond traditional marketing methods. What do you see as the benefits for beer businesses getting involved with Beerstagrammers?
Free advertising! Well hopefully not free if done right both parties should be getting something out of working together.
What tips do you have for anyone keen to, as they say, crush their Beerstagram game?
I’d say have a unique angle, keep it fun – beers are fun! Always tag the brewery.
And any Instagram faux pas people should look to avoid?
Two hundred hashtags for each post and oversharing, no need for an Instagram story about your recent post.
All images published in this article are the work of Beers In The Sun.
You can read other articles in the Aussie Beerstagrammers series here. If you would like to be featured – or have an account you love and would like to know more about – let Guy know. You can also check out Guy's beerstagramming at Goodtimes Craft Beer.