I wanted to do a fun personal project that allowed me to play with typefaces while telling a story about my family history.
Packaging, especially bottle labels, is one of my
nerdiest favourite graphic design applications. I just love endless design possibilities matched with the constraint of labels and shelf space. So, I decided to showcase part of my lineage with these bottle labels.
Grandpa on my Mum’s side was born in a small mountain town in the region of Umbria in Italy.
Montefalco Sagrantino is a style of Italian wine made in the Province of Perugia, which is in Umbria where the medieval town of Gubbio resides.
Perhaps the most famous story from Gubbio is a tale of the Wolf of Gubbio; handed down from around the year 1220—and it’s still the talk of the town!
In a nutshell: a man-eating wolf terrorized the residents of Gubbio, attacking livestock and eventually killing people. The frightened residents could do nothing about it until finally a man named Francis of Assisi decided “enough is enough!” He bravely confronted the wolf and made a deal that the residents would feed the wolf and in return, the wolf would not attack and eat the townspeople anymore.
My Italian Grandpa went on to marry my Grandma, who was Irish. My middle name traces back to her maiden family name. That family was from a town called Portarlington.
The town, historically called Cooletoodera (from Irish: Cúil an tSúdaire, meaning “nook of the tanner”), has been pleasantly situated on the River Barrow since 1667.
And since we’re talking about Ireland, the ‘fighting Irish’ comes to mind. A ‘Donnybrook’ is what you’d call a big brawl, or a bar/street fight, which I’m sure someone from my lineage was caught-up in at some point.
Both my Italian Grandpa and Irish Grandma eventually moved to where my Mum was born in West Sussex; a historic county in South East England.
Situated near a range of chalk hills called the South Downs, this area has a deep history of flint mining starting around 4000 BCE. During the iron age, Cissbury Ring, one of Britain’s largest hill forts, was built around 250 BCE.
Grandpa on my Dad’s side grew up in Toronto, where he became a streetcar driver for the (now) TTC.
Coincidentally, my Nanna took his very streetcar to get to work every day. After a few weeks of her daily commute they started chatting as he drove her to her daily stop. Chatting turned into friendship... friendship turned into love... and the rest is history.
You’ve been to Montego Bay? Then you may have heard the story of the White Witch. If not, I’ll leave it up to you to find out... and possibly visit her grave one day.
Jamaica has quickly become a favourite vacation spot for me. I’ve never been much of a rum guy, but I may have to go back and see if they can change my mind with some more of their amazing island beverages.