Hapney Ever After

Hapney Ever After

The Cocktail Lovers, The Art Issue, Summer 2021
Reading Hapney Ever After 4 minutes Next A Taste of Art

Having spent the past decade working for international consultancy Fling Bar Services, during lockdown I found myself with the luxury of time - but no creative outlet. In June 2020, I decided to do something about this: I bought some canvases and picked up a paintbrush and my new business was born... By John Collingwood

My love of art started at a young age, as my mam was an art teacher and my dad a paint and decorator.  Over the years they've been very forthcoming in sharing their collective knowledge and technical wisdom with me.  In more recent times, the Bauhaus and modern artists like Mondrian and Rothko have fascinated me, and I have a deep-rooted appreciation for street artists like Heath Kane, Hush and Pure Evil.  They've all played a huge part in influencing and developing my own, individual style.

One day during lockdown, I can remember searching for 'cocktail art' online and being flabbergasted about how dull the prints were. The recipes were all over the place and I thought to myself, I've got to do something about this.

I began doodling and I kept coming back to the principle of using cocktail ratios.  Within a few days I decided to decipher my rough drawings into three canvases, which I called Substitution, featuring the Side Car, White Lady and Margarita. I thought they'd look awesome reproduced as high-resolution digital prints, but I was wrong!  So I started to play around with shapes - primarily rectangles - on PowerPoint (of all things) and began to see that this was a really good way of visualising cocktails in a totally new way.

This led to the development of my signature Negroni Collection, which is where I began to explore 'hard-edging', a technique that's now the hallmarks of all my originals. It involves using layers of acrylic paint to create eye-catching pieces with crisp lines that have real depth and texture.

I knew I was onto something, but I wanted to explore the digital world further too. I took the plunge, bought an iPad and downloaded Adobe Illustrator.  This was a revelation, as I felt like I was a barback again and the only way to get better was fully immerse myself in it - which is exactly what I did. I experimented with shapes and typography while delving further into the importance of scale and colour.  It enabled me to broaden my horizons and expand my cocktail ratio concept in ways that are simply not possible with acrylic paint.

My time spent teaching bartenders across the globe has made me acutely aware that people learn in different ways. Much like taste and flavour, colours and shapes can  transcend cultural and language barriers. In my art, key cocktail families have been reimagined using ratios as a simple framework, with colours replacing ingredients and shapes replicating measurements. Twists are created by simply substituting one or more colour(s) for another. This can transform a piece from being elegant and understated to bold and vibrant, mimicking what what happens in the drink's world.

The process of creating my art has reinforced the idea that there is beauty in simplicity, and this applies to both art and cocktails. It's also taught me that to more forward in life, it's essential to take yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things. Creativity can manifest itself in many ways, but to allow it to rise it is paramount that you remain calm and patient - you cannot be in your creative zone 24/7.

The world of bar consultancy is slowly coming back online, which is amazing to see. We have some super-exciting projects lined up that are keeping up very busy, including launching a couple of ultra-luxury cruise ships, and our own development space and bar. As for my art, it gives me a real sense of accomplishment; for many years I knew there was an artist within me, but I had never had the opportunity (or time) to nurture and develop it. I'm excited about collaborating with like-minded bartenders-turned creatives, as I know there is huge scope to diversify and develop my skills further. I don't want to be a one-trick pony; I'm in this for the long haul.

The Cocktail Lovers, The Art Issue, Summer 2021

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