When Mariah Cameron Scee pictured her life as an artist, she never imagined it between the walls of a brewery.
But that’s where she landed and if awards are any indication, she’s thriving.
Scee is the director of art and branding for Second Street Brewery in Santa Fe, responsible for organizing events, marketing and graphic design. She has been with the company for five years and those colorful Second Street beer cans and labels one sees on the shelves at local stores are her creations.
Scee worked in bars and restaurants for many years to support herself while pursing her own art and freelance illustration. She earned a bachelor of fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design. Working for the brewery, she said, has given her the opportunity to remain in the service industry while also working as a designer.
“Beer design is at such an interesting time in history right now,” she said. “Fifteen years ago beer cans were boring. Now you have to be able to catch people’s eye.”
The New Mexico Brewers Guild asked Scee to design a pint glass that was sold at local breweries this November as a fundraiser for the guild. She used the state fossil — a Coelophysis bauri — as inspiration for her design. The glass features a skeletal dinosaur with a blue, jagged mountain range in the background and it sold out in a matter of hours at most breweries that stocked it.
Leah Black, outgoing executive director of the guild, has worked with Scee for several years.
“I think Mariah is such a great artist because she is ever-evolving,” Black said. “She seems to be constantly exploring what she might be able to do or trying to learn how to do new things in new mediums, always stepping out of her comfort zone. Not only that, she is a fantastic human being, who sorta really cares about other humans and how she can help to make them thrive and shine.”
In 2020, Scee won a gold “Crushie” in the Craft Beer Marketing Awards for her can design for Second Street’s Agua Fria Pilsner. She won the people’s choice best can packaging design and the best packaging award for her 2018 Skookum Limited edition release design. Her artwork for the 2019 Barleywine packaging and labels was named the global winner in 2021.
Scee said she tries to tie all her designs back into New Mexico and the natural world.
Rod Tweet, president and brewmaster of Second Street Brewery, said Scee helped transition the company into packaged liquor sales with her artistic talent and ability to convert her design into a commercial product.
“The craft market these days is brutally competitive, and I have a belief that what succeeds is a strong execution on all fronts, the branding, the package art, and of course the beer — you’ve got to do it all,” Tweet said. “Her work has certainly contributed to our success in the retail packaged market.”
Scee said she loves the creative freedom the brewing industry can offer to an artist.
“It’s so much fun for me,” she said. “… I get paid to design beer cans. That’s honestly the coolest job in the world.”