Working in the cannabis industry, it’s no secret that marijuana and art share an easily symbiotic relationship. In many cases, this conjures up images of black light paintings and psychedelic cartoons but that is just one facet of how art and marijuana are blending together. As public perceptions grow more accommodating to the obvious benefits of weed, marijuana art is achieving a higher class as opposed to aspiring to the stereotype. From cannabis marketing to weed packaging to psychoactive inspiration, the bond between the 420 community and the art world is only growing tighter.
Marijuana Art in Residency
The poster for Ezra Soiferman's documentary Grass Fed
Recently, The Cannabist
reported on Canadian artist Ezra Soiferman
who just wrapped up his year-long residency at Tweed, one of the biggest producers of marijuana in Canada. Soiferman felt his art was a natural fit for Tweed which prompted him to propose the residency. “We wanted to see what happened when we associated an artist to a cannabis company but put no shackles on creativity,” Mark Zekulin, president of Tweed, explained to The Cannabist’s Katie Shapiro. Prior to his residency, Soiferman had examined the medicinal power of cannabis in his acclaimed documentary “Pressure Drop” which followed an elderly man’s reliance on weed as a glaucoma treatment. More recently, Soiferman profiled an overweight comedian who commits to a diet comprised of nothing but weed edibles for four straight months in a documentary entitled Grass Fed
The Dispensary as Gallery
With weed culture prevalent in California, it’s no wonder that a major converging point for marijuana and art is Los Angeles. Downtown Los Angeles is host to a bevy of galleries, dispensaries and smoke shops making it the perfect spot for ShowGrow. A hybrid art showroom and dispensary, ShowGrow seems to have found a perfect balance. While anybody can access the gallery, only licensed medical marijuana cardholders have access to the dispensary portion in the back. Prints adorn the wall from artists as diverse as Sasha Young and Jesus Hands, the individual responsible for the New Year’s Eve Hollyweed sign re-design. There’s even an original painting by Marilyn Manson on display in the dispensary portion. Ideally, you could pick up an ounce of your favorite strain and a print by your favorite artist if places like ShowGrow take off.
Commercial Art in Cannabusiness
The youth of the cannabis industry opens it up to so much potential that commercial marijuana art taps into. Darren Romanelli, creative director of marijuana-focused marketing agency Green Street, summed it up succinctly when he told The Guardian “I saw an opportunity to come into an industry and really create some great visual moments with artists and brands.” Green Street are one of several companies that are embracing the vitality of fresh branding in a relatively new industry. This has found them toppling the exasperated stereotypes of the past to find a sleeker, more sophisticated image that more accurately reflects the promise of cannabusiness. Romanelli has had a storied career collaborating with artists and designers alike for marketing purposes and is also an art collector so his focus on marijuana art comes from an instinctive place.
Just looking at modern cannabis packaging designs reveals how much higher the bar has been raised through high end marijuana art. That’s not to say the comic psychedelia tied to the stoner stereotypes is off limits but the modern weed smoker is very rarely a dead ringer for Cheech or Chong. Naturally, packaging and marketing would reflect this. Many of the artists and designers creating these new images know weed because they enjoy weed. Now, cannabis can finally be celebrated as more than just a cartoon but with the respect it deserves.