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Sociovino was born with a handful of big goals. Underpinning all of them, however, was the desire to celebrate the joy there is to be found in discovering new wines and spirits, made by people who have as much fun making their products as we have sharing them with our friends. Meet the artist that helped bring that desire to life (or to line):
Pretension in the wine world is something that has long put people off exploring an area of culture that our team are excited to work in every day, one that’s filled with too many colourful characters, mind-blowing flavours and artisanal entrepreneurs to warrant the sense of exclusivity that some uphold in the wine industry. Our team fell in love with the laid back, simple but arrestingly beautiful work of Louise Sheeran in 2020. We have her to thank for the illustrations that look to voice the brand we want to be:
Clem sat down with Louise (via a good old fashioned phone call) to hear a little more about what led her to a career capturing the essence of so many great food and wine businesses, to talk wine memories and to drool over where she’ll be eating the second she returns to London. We think you’ll love meeting her – and discovering the amazing brands she’s brought to life.
Louise Sheeran: I studied art and design after school: a foundation in art and design, followed by an aborted graphic arts degree in Leeds and then a (completed!) degree in Surface Design from the London College of Communication. Art was always what I wanted to do.
Louise: I used to want to be a wallpaper designer! I can’t remember why now but that’s what led me to choose my degree. It was during that time that I started screen printing. I hated it at first, I found it such a slow process, lots of cleaning and waiting for screens to dry. But soon enough I was starting to think like a printer, in layers and colour separations and I came to love it!
Louise: Food and wine has always been my other ‘thing’. I started working in a local bar when I was 15 and only recently hung up the apron for good when I had my daughter, two years back. In London I worked in restaurants initially to support my studies and then my art career. But I also loved it. The people, the buzz, the speed of it was so much fun and so challenging.
Terroirs was the first restaurant I worked at, however, that really opened up my passion for food and drink. It was like no place I’d ever been to: such passion for food, such brilliant cooking yet such humility, such fun, such chaos! There was no stuffiness, no pretence, no bullshit! Just people doing things really well and loving it. And the wine! The wine! My first introduction to natural wine. It was like I’d tasted only grey up till then and all of a sudden my mouth was full of technicolour.
Louise: It’s not deliberate, I just draw things that tickle me in some way. But, yes, I think it’s definitely good that the conversation about wine has become more lighthearted and democratic. I feel things have really moved on in that front in the last 10 years.
Louise Each project’s different. I always start with lots of sketching, lots of ideas and then try to edit this down for the client so as not to completely bamboozle them! From that initial round a direction is normally established and I continue to develop ideas from there.
For Sociovino, we were looking for a rough line, a bit more chunky than my usual, and for something a bit messy, loose and fun. I wanted to capture the excitement of being introduced to new wines, going on a wine adventure. I was working with designer Will Perrens, who I'd worked with for At the Table's book 'The Food Almanac', and together we refined many pages of mad scribbles into a coherent collection.
Louise: I feel like I’m a lot less of an explorer these days after the pandemic and with a toddler in tow! Food and wine is such a huge part of my life though. It surrounds me: my partner works in restaurants, always has. We live in the Auvergne and lots of our friends here make wine.
It’s maybe less about exploration now, but something that’s become really ingrained.
Louise: So, so many! There’s been numerous occasions where a glass of wine has stopped me in my tracks, given me a kind of ‘zooming in’ feeling.
I remember trying my first glass of Prieuré-Roch (one of very few!) and feeling that the clouds had parted and heavenly light flooded down. There’s been a few of those moments.
I also have some really strong wine memories from when Brawn opened: my partner, Max, was doing the opening with Ed and the team and I was working at Terroirs. I’d get off the 26 at the bottom of Columbia Road and meet Max there. There would, more often than not, be a carafed bottle on the bar, Ed on the decks and all the team hung around drinking, chatting, dancing. I learnt a lot about wine in those early days and had a whole lot of fun too! So many memories of London are based in hospitality, so sharing wine in those contexts sparks a lot of nostalgia.
Louise: I’m not really too hung up on pairings. I think a salty, sea-born white, maybe something from Nino Barraco, and seafood will always be on my ‘yes please’ list. I remember craving his wines fiercely when I was pregnant: it was very specifically that saline hit I wanted. That and litre after litre of pineapple juice!
Louise: I miss so much about London. Pubs! Pints in pubs! I could cry! I live in a village now and definitely miss the ease of being able to pop out for whatever I fancied and finding the best example of whatever that was. So many little routines and rituals that I miss, but we’re getting some good ones here, even if they mainly involve mud and goats!
Louise: I’m genuinely scared for the day it happens, it’ll ruin me forever. While the food here is amazing, there are so many things you can’t really get in France, like pizza or any Asian food. But I think, given the nostalgia it encourages, I’d immediately head to Brawn. It feels like home.
Louise: Haha it is pretty specific! But every project is so unique that I never feel the need to repeat myself – it’s quite reflective of wine itself in that way: so varied, with so many different styles, I feel I could go on forever. I love seeing and working off snapshots of human nature, encompassed by the world of wine. I find it funny to watch and to learn about. That’s how I begin: what is it about this aspect of the wine world that would be fun for this project? Tastings? Education? Pomposity. There are so many entertaining characters to explore.
It’s very funny that I ended up doing what I’m doing. When I was working at Terroirs I had an appraisal with my boss. I was exhausted from working in restaurants while I was at art school and we started to discuss my future. I said “I wish I could just find a way to combine wind and art, I love them both so much”.
Louise: Last time I saw her she reminded me of that conversation but I haven’t actually told her yet!
Louise: Ooh, tricky! Maybe the line drawings would be something like an elegant, taut Chardonnay, maybe something from the Jura. The bolder, chunkier stuff is maybe more akin to a good ol' girthy Loire red, a grolleau or a cab franc. I'm getting thirsty now...!
To explore more of Louise's work, head to her website: www.louisesheeran.co.uk
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