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Grab a cold one and meet the designer behind some of Austin’s favorite brands and cans.

Austinites love our local brews, wines and spirits.

And if you’ve ever cracked open a cold beer or sipped a hard seltzer and marveled at its quintessentially Austin can, there’s a good chance you’ve encountered the work of 31-year-old Sam O’Brien and his Austin-based design studio, SAMPLE.


“Austin is just such a unique place that these brands have one thing in common -- they want to tout their Austin roots,” said O’Brien, who moved here from New York when he was a toddler after his dad, acclaimed photographer Michael O’Brien, visited the city on assignment and fell in love with it. “I’ve been an Austin resident for 28 years and it kind of automatically comes through in my work. Some of it is intentional for the brand, but some of it is my personality coming through.”

Launched two years ago, O’Brien’s SAMPLE is responsible for the looks of local food and beverage brands such as Zilker Brewing Company, Cisco’s Restaurant, Bakery and Bar, Ranch Rider Spirits and Austin 101 Light Whiskey as well as beloved local businesses such as Criquet Shirts and Chubbies. (Fun fact: SAMPLE’s officemates, FugginHuggin, seemingly have the other half of Austin’s alcohol market covered, designing for brands such as Twisted X Brewing Co. and Hi Sign Brewing.)

From the hats O’Brien designed for Cisco’s that state, simply, “Migas” – a nod to one of the Austin institution’s signature dishes – to the festive merch he created for University of Texas football player Bijan Robinson’s new Dijon mustard brand, time and time again he encapsulates the city’s quirky, upbeat vibe. Perhaps most notable, however, is his work for Zilker Brewing Company, whose eye-catching cans incorporate a perfectly balanced blend of bright colors and throwback aesthetics.


“Our brand is centered around a retro-modern vibe that can be tricky to pull off at times but has been a natural fit for Sam since our first project together,” said Patrick Clark, co-founder of Zilker Brewing Company. “He designed a collaboration can for us several years ago that was so on-brand it eventually inspired the refresh of our core beer line-up.”

O’Brien, who attended Baylor University and interned and worked at Austin’s McGarrah Jessee before starting his own firm, said his early collaboration with Zilker Brewing was “every designer’s dream.”

“It was the first account that made me realize that SAMPLE was possible,” he said. “It was awesome, not only for the creative opportunities and beer labels we got to design and are still designing, but also my office is right down the street from them and I get the perks of free beer. You couldn’t really ask for more as an Austin-based designer.


O’Brien said in the future he’d love to add businesses like Howler Bros., Patagonia and heritage beer brands such as Anheuser-Busch to his client roster. Mostly, though, he simply wants to help spotlight and amplify Austin culture through his designs.

“The underlying spirit of Austin still exists, and it’s up to the native Austinites and the true Austinites to keep that,” he said. “Cisco’s, for example, who we’ve done work for, is the oldest Tex-Mex place in Austin. When I do work for them, it’s like we want to honor that heritage and that history and celebrate that. We’re able to keep the spirit alive through our work.”


Airport braces for high traffic this month with ACL and F1 drawing in travelers

(AUS airport/Instagram)

With major entertainment events slated for October, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is gearing up for a busy month.

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With deposition and trial looming, Elon Musk has offered $44B for Twitter, again

Elon Musk has proposed once again to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share.

The news that Musk is offering to carry on with the $44 billion buyout was first reported by Bloomberg. Now, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows Musk made the proposal in a letter to the tech giant on Monday.

The New York Stock Exchange temporarily halted trading in Twitter stock twice Tuesday, first because of a big price move and the second time for a news event, presumably the announcement of Musk's renewed offer.

While the per share offer price on this latest proposal remains the same as the original offer, it’s unclear if Musk has made other term changes or if Twitter would reject it. According to other reports, a deal could be reached this week.

The stock closed at $52.00/share Tuesday, indicating market uncertainty around the $54.20 offer.

After Musk informed Twitter of plans to terminate the original agreement in July, Twitter sued. A trial has been expected in Delaware Chancery Court on Oct. 17.

With the proposition of a buyout on the table again, it revives the question of whether Musk might move Twitter from San Francisco to Central Texas.

He’s done so with some of his other companies. Tesla’s headquarters in southeast Travis County had its grand opening earlier this year and tunneling business The Boring Company moved to Pflugerville. At least two other Musk companies, SpaceX and Neuralink, have a Central Texas presence without being headquartered here.

Technology journalist Nilay Patel this afternoon voiced concerns that owning Twitter and Tesla together could be problematic for Musk, as his Tesla manufacturing facilities in Germany and China are both in countries that have disputes with Twitter over content moderation and censorship.

Telsa shares fell after the Twitter news became public, before rallying to close up, at $249.44.