Episode 36: WWE Artist-in-Residence Rob Schamberger, Big Lake’s Lupulin Brewing
Four years ago, Rob Schamberger became WWE’s first artist in residence. I spoke with him at Comic Con about some early artistic inspirations, the moment he really found wrestling, and some of the matches and storylines that have captivated him over the years.
He told me about the portrait that hangs in WWE owner Vince McMahon’s office – he painted that – and he told me about the jacket Ultimate Warrior wore to Wrestlemania 30. He painted that, too.
Out in Big Lake Minnesota, Lupulin Brewing recently celebrated their two year anniversary. I talked with co-founders Jeff Zierdt and Matt “Sugar” Schiller, as well as brewer Aaron Zierdt. We figured out how Jeff and Matt lived in the same small town but never met until just a few years ago. We also talked about how the two compliment each other as co-owners, and how they went from “just met” to “opened a brewery together” in only four years!
We dove into a glass of their special anniversary beer – named “Not Bad For a Strip Mall Brewery” – and they outlined the challenges of procuring some of “sexy hops” everyone’s after nowadays.
ABOUT THE GUESTS
When the need for an artist-in-residence came for WWE, legendary commentator Jim Ross and wrestler Triple H (pictures above, left) worked to bring in Schamberger, a longtime artist and wrestling fan at that point. Since then, his WWE portfolio has grown to hundreds of watercolor paintings and prints … but he also painted a portrait of the McMahon Family that hangs in WWE owner Vince McMahon’s office. He also put artwork on two jackets for the Ultimate Warrior! He tells those stories during the interview.
At ComicCon, Schamberger was working on a watercolor painting of Bret Hart’s match against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. He can be seen at live WWE events painting sometimes, but he’s not yet been in the ring – yet. The closest he came, we’ll presume, was when wrestler Kevin Owens destroyed one of his paintings at a show. He tells that story, and gives me his idea for a finishing move should he ever go into the ring.
A Kansas City native, Schamberger had worked in a number of fields before going pro as an artist. His tip to aspiring artists: don’t get comfortable. Do a job you don’t like, but focus on business skills that will compliment your artistic talents. You can check out and purchase his work on his website, or the WWE Shop.
Jeff Zierdt and Matt Schiller had been living in Wisconsin Rapids for years without ever getting to know each other. They finally met at a home-brewing event in Annandale in 2012; and, within four years, were opening the doors on their brewery. We discussed the level of trust it takes to go in on a business that together so soon after being introduced, and how their skills fit together.
When Aaron Zierdt joined the team, he first went to Sweden to apprentice at a brewery in Stockholm. We went to an alternate dimension during out interview. I asked: what if, during Aaron’s time over there, he’d opted to stay in Sweden and brew?
We featured a “2.5-IPA” called Not Bad For A Strip Mall Brewery. We measured Lupulin’s “strip mall cred,” and the origins of that name. They gave interesting perspective on how breweries can use rating sites like Untappd, and explained how they maneuver the hops market when “sexy hop” trends are changing so quickly.