INSIDE OUT: Canal Brasil X Débora Islas

Garrick Webster reports on Débora Islas' beautifully eclectic beer packaging art.

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The Brazilian illustrator Débora Islas has created the artwork for six special promotional beer cans for Canal Brasil to celebrate the broadcaster’s 25 anniversary. Based on a selection of the best films and TV shows the channel has coproduced during its history, the illustrations not only reflect Canal Brasil’s programming but also provide a wonderful look into Brazilian culture and creativity.

Each can features a montage of images hand-drawn and digitally coloured by Débora Islas, along with the title of each production hand-rendered by the artist. The various creative elements have been composed by Débora around the Canal Brasil logo which, like the artwork, has an eclectic, postmodern vibe with letters in varying styles and dimensions. The results perfectly reflect the organisation’s visual language.

“I delved as deeply as possible into each of the titles chosen, watched the films and programmes paying attention to the details of the settings and elements that would enrich the compositions, and tested colour palettes that reference the works but are harmonious. Brazil is very large and diverse, and the artwork represents its themes, environments and characters well,” said Débora Islas.



Six famous shows

The project began with a competitive brief with other artists. Débora created a piece of key art celebrating Brazilian cinema and chose 10 films to base it upon. The Canal Brasil marketing team liked what they saw, offered Débora the commission and developed a brief for the beer can artwork which would cover six productions.

These included: Cine Holliúdy (a comedy set in the 1970s), Choque de Cultura (an alternative comedy sketch show), A Vida Invisível (a romance set in the 1950s), Bacurau (a Western set in the country’s interior), Dzi Croquettes (a docudrama about a dance group) and Larica Total (a comedy cooking show). To create the artwork, Débora looked for images that stood out, identifying details that last in the memory. Then she searched for photographic references – like the cars in Choque de Cultura – to perfect the angles in her sketches. 

“Each film or program had its own particularities. For example, the can for Cine Holliúdy has easily identifiable elements from the film, such as the yellow car and the old cinema seats. But the Dzi Croquettes can was more challenging as it is a documentary with some scenes and in black and white. Everything had to be extravagant and colourful,” said Débora Islas.





The spirit of Brazil

One of the main challenges of the brief was to capture the atmosphere of each film or show and convey the identity of the characters without using the faces of the actors. To achieve this, Débora focused on the attitudes, body types and costumes of the people in the imagery. Particularly for the cans dedicated to Larica Total and Choque de Cultura, she worked closely with Camila Roque and Danielle Lobato at Canal Brasil to add elements that would bring richer detail to the montage.

The series of artworks is tied together by a single motif – the bem-te-vi, a yellow-breasted bird famous across Brazil, which is part of the Canal Brasil identity.





A retro vibe

With imagery ranging from icons of faith to camper vans and from cacti to drag queens, Débora’s illustrations have a retro feel to reflect the 25 years Canal Brasil has been operating. They’re eclectic and a touch chaotic, which fits the brand and, inadvertently, matched Débora’s working conditions at the time. Life as a freelance illustrator throws up challenges beyond the brief and just as she was completing the images her apartment needed to be rewired. Thankfully, she found a place to concentrate.

The cans launched successfully at the Brazilian Cinema Grand Prix 2023 ceremony in Rio de Janiero and are being used by Canal Brasil for promotional purposes within the industry. Débora’s artwork has also been applied to the six-pack box. The Canal Brasil beer is set to become a collector’s item in Brazil.



“When the designs were complete, I couldn’t choose a favourite. I remember being very happy with A Vida Invisível. It’s the second time I’ve illustrated the movie. The first was in 2019 when I was invited to join an exclusive campaign with the brand Chico Rei. I had to watch the film and create a t-shirt print, with the money raised going to social causes,” says Débora Islas.



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