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Posted on Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Dave!Tomorrow I will be flying off to Seattle late at night so I can catch an early plane to Santa Fe the following morning. Yes, TequilaCon 2009 is finally at hand.

My first TequilaCon experience was #3 in Portland, Oregon for the history-making 2007 bash. I had actually planned on attending #2 in New York the previous year, but I couldn't work it into my schedule. This is indeed tragic (and one of my few regrets in life is that I didn't try harder to attend), but life goes on. Albeit not as well as it could have.

Anyway, now that Jenny has posted the Official TequilaCon 2009 Poster over at her Official TequilaCon page, I thought I'd write up another "Behind The Scenes" entry that everybody seems to like so much. This time on how this year's poster was created.

When plans were coming together for TequilaCon 2007, the perfect venue had been decided... The Kennedy School. It's a former schoolhouse that was converted into a nifty hotel, bar, and restaurant complex. The only problem with such a place is that it's massively huge. There was a very real concern that people would show up to the event and not be able to find each other! That's when I came up with the idea of making posters for the registration table in Brandon's room, and name-badge lanyards for all the attendees so they could find each other. There was no direction on what these things should look like, so I thought it might be cool to alter a Jose Cuervo tequila bottle and use that. I found a fantastic photo online, paid the photographer for a release, and two hours later the first Official TequilaCon Poster was born...

TQ2007 Web Poster

The lanyards were a hit, so when TequilaCon 2008 was in the planning stages we decided to do them again, even though the venue didn't really require them. Initially, I had no plans on revisiting the "bottle" idea from the previous year. Instead I was going to use a shot glass and etch the info on the side of it, as shown by this lo-res lanyard badge sketch...

TQ2008 Alternate Web Poster

It was a nice concept, but it didn't offer nearly the impact from last time. Even worse, what would I do for the future TequilaCons which would certainly follow? It would be nice if everything somehow tied together from year to year. That's when it dawned on me that there were hundreds of different tequila brands out there, and my best bet was to just choose a different bottle each year. Taking my camera to the local liquor store, I decided Pepe Lopez had a fantastic label that would look nice when modified so I snapped a few photos, painted in my own background, and the second Official TequilaCon Poster was created...

TQ2008 Web Poster

This year, the lanyards and posters were a no-brainer because people have come to expect them (we also discovered that they come in handy when you drink so much that you forget your own name). The only issue confronting me was which bottle to use. Vahid sent me a number of great suggestions, and on one of the pages was a bottle of 30-30 that seemed a perfect fit. Their label is really distinct and beautiful, so the decision was easy. What was not easy was finding a bottle of it that I could photograph because my local liquor store didn't carry it. Fortunately, the store in a neighboring city did, and the rest is history...

TQ2009 Web Poster

If you want to see all the gory details on the image was made, I've put the whole story in an extended entry...

The photo of the bottle was taken right at the liquor store. I found a spot with even lighting, laid it on the floor, and got down on my knees to take the shot...

Making TQ2009 Poster... Crappy Bottle Photo

This photo looks pretty terrible, but it was all I needed to get started. The first thing I did was cut the bottle out of the background, touch up a few bad spots, remove the label, and color-correct the bottle so it wasn't green...

Making TQ2009 Poster... Color Fixes

Next up was the hard part... creating the replacement label. The idea here is not to try and get an exact match, but instead to create a customized version of the label that mimics the spirit of the original. This is not as easy as it might sound, because anything I come up with has to be readable at small sizes... otherwise the little image I use on the lanyards would just turn into a big mess. The most difficult part of the process is trying to figure out how much you can change and still have something that resembles the original. After those decisions are made, it's just a matter of tracking down similar fonts and drawing up any artwork.

From here the project splits into two parts... 1) repainting the label background, and 2) constructing the artwork needed to go on that background. I keep the two pieces separated as long as possible so it's easier to make changes. The only thing kept from the original label was the oak barrel graphic, which I took from the photo so I wouldn't have to redraw it...

Making TQ2009 Poster... Label Parts

Again, it's not about making an exact duplicate... all I need to do is come close. Several adjustments were made at this point to improve readability. My first version had a hyphen between "20" and "09" because the original has one between the "30" and "30." As much as I wanted to keep it that way, all it did was confuse things, so I dropped it. Once I have everything as I like it, it's time to run a quick comparison...

Making TQ2009 Poster... Comparison

When it came time for a background, I was going to just paint something random like I did last year. But at the last second I changed my mind. Instead I would just blur out a photo of a pub's bar. This would add an air of authenticity to the finished image, so off I went to iStock Photo where I found this...

Making TQ2009 Poster... Pub Background

Perfect! The light coming in from those liquor shelves has the "Santa Fe sun" vibe I wanted, but it still looks like a bar. All I had to do was add blur, do a little color correction, drop the bottle in, add highlights, and repaint some of the details. After ten minutes of tinkering (and about two hours total work), the third Official TequilaCon Poster for 2009 was done...

TQ2009 Web Poster

And that's all she wrote.

Until next year...

Categories: Blogging 2009Click To It: Permalink


  1. i’ll miss yinz. perhaps i will try to drown myself in booze this weekend to forget the fact that i am not there with yinz.

  2. NYCWD says:

    That is insanely awesome.

    Love the behind the scenes!

  3. Avitable says:

    Have fun this year and I’ll see you at TC10!

  4. LeSombre says:


  5. Great work, Dave! That bottle was a good pick. Plenty of space for all the details.

  6. Foo says:

    Awesome Dave2, loved the you explained the process.

  7. Sarah says:

    Awesome. I leave on Friday, exciting!

  8. suze says:

    I love the poster – and the behind the scenes look. Thanks for that 🙂

  9. claire says:

    You make it sound easy, Dave. Thanks very much for sharing your process. I like learning about photo manipulation/design.

    Did you ask about taking the photo at the liquor store first?

  10. Dave2 says:

    No. But I did tell them I took it afterwards as I was paying for my stuff. Last year I DID ask in advance… they didn’t have a problem with it. Probably because I then went on to spend $120. 🙂

  11. You are a fucking da Vinci. I bow in awe of your kick-assedness.

  12. Rachel says:

    That’s a lot of work. And greatly appreciated
    see ya in a few days.

  13. brandon says:

    i still have one of those original laminated posters in my wardrobe. i am man enough to admit i occasionally touch myself inappropriately in front of it.

  14. whall says:

    Wow, I do love these behind-the-scenes. It really is a fantastic job powered by some creative talent.

    So far, we have on

    BTS (behind the scenes)
    GTS (google that sh*t)
    DTS (acronyms for dumbasses)
    UTS (bUlleT sunday)
    MTS (monkey T-Shirts)

    What’s next in the xTS world of Dave, mewonders.

  15. jenny says:

    I love this year’s poster SO MUCH! You keep outdoing yourself each year, Dave – it’s really perfect! Anybody know if 30-30 is any good?

  16. A Lewis says:

    Are you telling me that when we met in 2007 at the Kennedy School…that was your first Tequilacon? Wow. I had no idea. Have a blast, you guys. And do behave, would you please….

  17. Robin says:

    You are so talented, dude. Seriously.

    See you in a few days. 🙂

  18. Shash says:

    As always, informative AND awesome. 🙂

    Wish I was going to be there, but we ran through our substitute budget like well, tequila, so I goes nowheres. Bah.

    Have fun!

  19. Ren says:

    Love it! Both the result and the behind-the-scenes.

    See you soon!

  20. Brent says:

    Thanks for sharing how you made this. Really cool stuff! Have fun, and share all the drunken madness…especially in pictures.

  21. sizzle says:

    Please have twice as much fun on my behalf!

  22. christie says:

    I wish I could go, but I never have time or money or… you know, friends. 🙂 But have a safe flight!

  23. Bubblewench says:

    My Tequilacon 2008 badge is one of my most treasured Possessions (is that spelled right? looks funny)

    Was my first blogger event as well… Hangs on my kitchen wall for everyone to see!

    Thanks Dave! Bummed I’m gonna miss this year.

  24. sue says:

    Very nice. Now if only I could be there… *sigh*

  25. Sybil Law says:

    I was thinking of the worm as a cartoony badge…

  26. beth says:

    Such talent and creativity all wrapped in a Dave package. Who could ask for more?

  27. yellojkt says:

    You have mad skilz. The font is an amazing match.

  28. I love your “behind the scenes” posts.. keep them up 🙂

  29. John says:

    BEAUTIFUL work Dave. : )

  30. Poppy says:

    I think it’s HILARIOUS that Rachel got pulled out of line by TSA and got her tequila confiscated. We will drink ours tonight BEFORE the plane ride home, and make sure the bottle is very obviously empty. 🙂

    Fantastic design!!!! I love the sign and the bottle.

  31. martymankins says:

    As I’ve said before, I LOVE this behind the scenes posts. I am in awe of your graphic artist skills and it’s no wonder these posters and lanyards are a hit.

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