Most days, Joey Potts works from home.
The creative director for 18th Street Brewery, one of Northwest Indiana's hippest craft breweries, is responsible for building the brand.
That means every morning, he logs into 18th Street's official Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram accounts to tell fans about what the brewers are up to, what's on tap and what special events are coming up. He updates the brewery's website with photos it sends him, such as what the chef there has been cooking. He tries to quickly share whatever else the brewery is up to.
Potts, a visual artist and former gallery owner, comes from his Chicago home to Gary's Miller Beach neighborhood once or twice a week to help out at the brewery, such as washing dishes or cleaning the restrooms.
They don't let him tend bar anymore. By his own admission, he's not very good behind the bar.
But he's very skilled at social media, marketing, merchandising, drawing logos and creating label art that makes 18th Street's bottles and cans stand out on the shelves, which is what he's busy doing most of the time. The labels he's drawn cover a wide range of styles. Examples include the heavy metal-influenced Sinister Imperial India Pale Ale labels to the playfully surreal Foreman Robust Porter, to the clean, wine bottle-like design of the Sour Note Gose beer.
Typically, he'll talk to owner and head brewer Drew Fox about new beers and sketch out ideas based on the titles and ingredients. He said he's drawn at least 40 different labels and logos, but lost count of exactly how many.
"Brewing is creative," he said. "It's hard work making beers."
"Great beer deserves great art," he added.
Potts has designed a mural inside the brewpub on Lake Street in Miller's commercial corridor and curates the local artwork and display in the brewery. He also spearheads 18th Street's Brewery Artists Network, which includes an annual art fair and monthly drink and draw events where anyone can come in with pencil and paper, paint and paintbrush or crocheting needles.
"I love the freedom of working here," he said. "It's been two years since I designed the first label and I've always been given the freedom to pursue ideas I run past Drew. He's always open to it."
How I got the job
Potts, who studied art at the Maryland Institute, was introduced to Drew Fox through a home brewery. Fox saw a design Potts did, contacted him and commissioned him to do a drawing for Sinister. He started working for 18th Street as a freelancer and eventually got hired on full-time as the acclaimed brewery grew.
Anyone who's interested in a similar career should absorb and create as much art as they can, Potts said.
"I kept going," he said. "Don't stop. Don't give up. Strive to do something. Don't be complacent."
Average brewery salaries range between $21,490 for entry-level positions to $74,366 for brewmasters at medium or large breweries, according to the Brewers Association.
The industry keeps growing as more new breweries pop up. Craft breweries nationwide produced 22.2 million barrels last year, an 18 percent rise in volume. The number of craft breweries grew 19 percent to 3,464, and the fast-growing industry accounts for more than 10 percent of the total beer market for the first time.