The festival’s annual poster is a big deal. It sets the theme and is highly collectible. Past editions consisted almost exclusively of photography with a playful headline. For instance, imagine a lowball glass of bourbon on ice, sitting atop a guitar amp with the headline: ”Bourbon Rocks.”
Nothing wrong with that. But when our creative team began concepting, we threw convention to the wind and pondered this simple question: The festival is a celebration of the history, culture and crafts of bourbon making. How can we not just convey – but embody – those ideas in a poster?
After exploring that question, our team decided the poster should be a handcrafted piece of art – just like the bourbon it celebrates. So we broke from the photographic style and created an illustrated, wood-cut poster.
We worked with a print artist who painstakingly carved the design into a wooden printing block, then inked it by hand before manually pressing each copy on a nineteenth-century printing press.
The intricate design is made up of seemingly nonsensical illustrations – unless you’re a bourbon fan and can decode their meanings – in which case you’ll see nods to insider terms like whiskey thieves, white dogs and rackhouses.
We’re happy to say that the KBF poster was a wall-to-wall success, Playfully incorporating hidden winks to insider terms from the world of whiskey helped fuel conversations on social media and in web forums as whiskey fans tried to find easter eggs and their meanings. As a premium offer, a limited run of 100 posters were numbered, hand-pressed and signed by the artists: our own version of a small batch release.
Perhaps most importantly, the excitement around the poster spurred anticipation and hype for the festival itself. We’ll raise a glass to that.