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RapidChat: Jamie Kosmicki

Before the craft beer industry rose to its current popularity, Jamie Kosmicki was slinging beers at Founders Brewing Company alongside her now husband, Jeremy Kosmicki. As a long-time artist, Jamie further demonstrates how beer and arts go hand-in-hand - both personally and professionally.

Before the craft beer industry rose to its current popularity, Jamie Kosmicki was slinging beers at Founders Brewing Company alongside her now husband, Jeremy Kosmicki. As a long-time artist, Jamie further demonstrates how beer and arts go hand-in-hand - both personally and professionally.
RG: Before becoming an art teacher, you served at Founders Brewing Co. for a couple of months. What was it like being a part of the craft beer industry before it rose to its current popularity?

JK: I started really enjoying craft beer in late 1996. There were only a few breweries around town so it was a small scene and it was fun. My husband Jeremy (then boyfriend) started homebrewing and I would help out with the bottling and labels. We loved seeking out craft breweries around the state on road trips or whenever. Also loved pilgrimages to the Michigan beer mecca, Bell's Brewery, in Kalamazoo.

RG:  Is this how you met your husband, who also happens to be the head brewmaster at Founders?

JK: Music is what brought Jeremy and I together; we met at a party. A friend and I were singing (to our a capella drinking standards) and he asked if we'd be the back-up singers in his band. We did join the band, and that band (Oracle) is still together 20+ years later. We've played many shows over the years - mostly at Founder's. We play the Black Party every spring where we play all songs with black in the title or the band name.


RG: With a passion for singing, how did you then transition into your 7-year career as an art teacher?

JK: I started going to school at GRCC for child development and was taking a few art courses. One of my professors there suggested I should consider being an art teacher. I then transferred to Kendall College of Art and Design and graduated with my art education degree in 2005. Jeremy had been working at Founders for five years by this time, so I had an "in" to get a job there. I was a server at Founders while I applied for teaching jobs. I only ended up working there for the summer of 2005 because I got hired on in Byron Center to teach high school art.

RG: Through educating high school students, what did you learn about yourself as an artist?

JK: I would say I learned to communicate better through my art. So much time teaching is spent communicating with students and working with them to be thoughtful about their art. Considering what they want to make, why they want to make it, how they should make their art and what will express their ideas in the truest or most successful way. I also learned that I'm much more in tune with the creative aspect of teaching art than the management side - managing supplies, assignments, rubrics, grades and so forth.

RG: When ArtPrize first made its grand debut, how did you first feel about your local community running its own art competition?

JK: My colleague at BCHS first brought ArtPrize to my attention. Initially, I didn't really understand what it was. I investigated a bit and then really wanted to enter. It is a unique concept and I'm thankful Rick DeVos brought it to Grand Rapids.

RG: Did you end up entering anything over the years?

JK: I ended up doing an 8 foot sculpture carved from styrofoam and coated with cement titled "Hope and Pray".

RG: How do you feel ArtPrize has grown and/or changed over the years?

JK: It's much bigger now. A lot more artists (from all over) enter their work and a lot more people go downtown to check the it out. The first year of ArtPrize, I asked Founders to be a venue and I had to explain to the taproom manager what it was all about. Now Founders brews an official ArtPrize beer every year. That's one anecdote of how it's changed.

RG: Often, beer and arts go hand-in-hand. Why do you think there is such synergy between the two?

JK: I think craft beer is an art. Just like a brewer needs to know the characteristics of the ingredients they use, an artist has to know their medium. When composing a piece of art, the artist considers balance and that's true for beer as well. 

RG: Have you ever designed any of the artwork for Founder’s beers?

JK: No, I haven't designed any Founders labels. I did paint the mural behind the brewhouse that you can see (somewhat) from the taproom. I also painted a new mural for the larger brewhouse that can be seen if you take a tour.

Jenna Morton is the RapidChat correspondent for Rapid Growth Media.
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