Beermat characters – the humble coaster gets a design makeover

Hattie Stewart beermat characters

Inkygoodness, the experts in finding new and exciting talent in illustration and lowbrow art, have utilised beer mats in their latest character design project…

Inkygoodness Beermat Characters logoInspired by the unusual theme of Beermat Characters, creative mavens Inkygoodness are showcasing the talents of over 80 international artists and illustrators in a new London exhibition opening next week. Each artist has been tasked with the challenge of transforming the simple beermat into a character – with surprising and delightful results!

The humble coaster is frequently employed as an ad-hoc sketchpad down the pub, especially during a heated exchange of ideas and opinions. They’ve provided thousands of designers and business folk with many lightbulb moments of alcohol-fuelled inspiration over the years. So it’s only fitting then, that a group of talented artists have now decided to give something back to this classic piece of paperboard.

Coasting on a Dream

“The results have been far beyond what we could have hoped for,” says Lisa Hassell, the founder and creative director of Inkygoodness, in her recent interview with Design Week. “The talent, skill and sheer imagination that has gone into the producing the artwork is incredible.”

Participating artists in the upcoming Beermat Characters exhibition include:

David Shillinglaw

David Shillinglaw beermat characters

David Shillinglaw’s Beergoggles artwork explores the various states of alcoholic intoxication. Following artist residencies in Japan and South Africa, David now lives and works in an old converted warehouse in London.

“Drawing inspiration from his own thoughts and ideas about the world, David’s work is crammed with shapes, colour, strong lines and bursting with typographical messages.”

El Tobe

El Tobe beermat characters

We’ve all been there. Too many beers and the room starts to spin. That blurry, pint-spilling feeling was the inspiration behind El Tobe’s quartet of Boozers Beermat Characters. “Labelled as the gremlins of the pub world, they only come out when you’ve had one too many,” jokes El Tobe. “If you can see them then it’s probably time to go home!”

“By day El Tobe works as a graphic designer at agency ‘ditto’ and by night he creates his darkly comic illustrations.”

Hattie Stewart

Hattie Stewart beermat characters

Created entirely with fluorescent Posca marker pens, these Hello Cheeky beer mats are Hattie Stewart’s bright and colourful contribution to Inkygoodness’ ingenious arts experiment. Hattie’s clients include Adidas, Diesel and Urban Outfitters.

“Eye-popping, surreal and more than a little cheeky, Hattie is famed for her quirky, slightly sinister illustrations.”

Mr the Beef

Mr the Beef beermat character

Mr the Beef is a Nottingham-based artist and illustrator. His Bird (Of Peace), Brewdog and Teen Wolf Beermat Characters will be on display at the exhibition.

“Drawing inspiration from street art, mid-century design, overheard conversations, brutalist architecture and a childhood in the 1980s, Mr the Beef’s work centres around the humorous world of characters that fill his sketchbooks.”

@mrthebeef on Twitter

Toy Factory

Toy Factory beermat character board game

Antwerp-based artist Sam De Buysscher, aka Toy Factory, has developed a cool Who Buys Da Next Round? Beermat Characters board game. Each of the six character beermats in this game represents a typical emotion felt when a person is drunk: The Beast, The Sleeper, The Overjoyed, The Nutcase, The Emo and The Addict. Which one would you be on a night out?

“Playing with bright and strong colours, 1950s design and a lot of humour, Sam’s tongue-in-cheek creations have appeared on street corners, posters, shop windows and commercial illustration projects.”


  1. These are great. It reminds of me of the Joni Mitchell song “on the back of a cartoon coaster.. I drew a map of Canada… with your face sketched on it twice.”

  2. Great idea – have some with (ahem, responsible) drinking game ideas should produce a couple of laughs or fill a space when a round is awaiting…

  3. Fantastic idea guys and gals, certainly liven up the decor in some of the ropey establishments around here! Maybe mirrored ones would help too!

  4. This is a great piece of creative thinking put into practice and brings fun and interest into a functional piece of everyday tablewear

  5. I love them! They’re fun, they’re not pretentious.. I’ve noticed funky beermats in pubs before and considered keeping them, but they always end up soggy and broken towards the end of the night , with nobody wanting to take them home (a parallel of my own life? Haha!)

  6. What funky beer mat designs – a way of self expression – could be used for cups of tea and coffee too to maximise their use

  7. I love the unusual designs, I always find myself absent-mindedly playing with the beermats when I’ve had a few! One of the best beermat designs was a little window of space and the pub provided pens for people to doodle in, some very creative designs!

  8. I really like El Tobe’s designs, they would go really well with a bottle of Desperado on a Friday night!

  9. Clearly some great talent is going to be on show at this exhibition. My favourite from the small selection above, has to be Mr the Beef. Looking at some of his other works, I find the minimalist use of colour works to make the overall illustrations very visually appealing.

    The incorporation of game elements into the illustrated beer mats by Sam De Buysscher, are a great idea and I’d be interested to see if anyone continues along this development path in the future.

    Whilst I find El Tobe’s creations to be stunning, they may possibly be a little unpractical; Would they start being used as hats when people have had one drink too many?

    Whether the beermats are functional or not, there is no doubt, that Inkygoodness have chosen some great artists to showcase!

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