When Ben Parsons set up a winery in Denver’s art district on Santa Fe, he eschewed all the imagery and rhetoric that usually go along with winemaking. He set out to produce wines that were radically different, ones that were inspired by gritty city living.

Not surprisingly, when it came to the label, Parsons didn’t want a bucolic image of a sprawling estate. His wine is counterculture, its name—The Infinite Monkey Theorem—is more philosophical than decorous, and the label needed to be unconventional. He hooked up with Grammy-nominated L.A. designer Zachary Larner from Vinyl Creative Agency, who is known for his indie music album covers.

The result is a multifaceted label that’s at once intricate, frenetic, urban, and evocative—just like Parson’s wines.

Gutter “I wanted to give the background the sense of a wall being graffitied, scraped, painted over, and tagged again,” says Larner. “I created the layers by taking bits and pieces from different parts of the creative process.”

Infinity triangles There is no beginning or end to these triangles. They function like the Escher staircase—if you stare at one long enough, it’ll move.

Monkey with a colored brain Over the course of several months, Larner sketched about 50 monkeys for the label—this was the early favorite. The colors in the brain symbolize enlightenment, with each color signifying an idea.

Tape Strips of tape act as a frame, while also conjuring up an element of city life—where posters and ads are taped to walls and telephone poles.

Metallics A patina of layered gold, bronze, and silver creates an urban, industrial feel.

Main monkey This is the monkey who went infinite, the one who produced the masterpiece (in this case, wine).

Fractional pattern Originally designed for the cap, the fractional pattern suggests the idea of infinity. It’s continuous, like a snowflake—when you look at them closely, there are micro details that are similar to the macro pattern.

Hidden monkey There are several tiny, hidden monkeys—like a grown-up version of Where’s Waldo?

Colored dots The hand-painted gauche dots have a dual purpose: They correspond to the early monkey’s colored brain (with each color symbolizing an idea) while also representing a winemaker’s notepad.

Recipe A good bottle of wine is the result of a long story of choices that had to be made right. This crude recipe (of sorts) delineates that wine’s story

and shows the process.

Backwards 3s Typographically, the backward 3s reinforce the gritty, street-art look.

Antiqued paper “I antiqued the paper to make it look like an old manuscript,” says Larner. “I wanted this to look like the notes of a mad scientist who had a trove of monkeys. (Ben, of course, is the scientist.)”

This article was originally published in 5280 October 2009.
Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.