Cannabis has been inspiring art and artists for as long as humans have been consuming it. Everywhere historysome of ours favorite writers are known to participate as part of their creative process. And lately, cannabis culture has given way to glassblowers to show their talent and vision. But some artists take this inspiration a step further and actually incorporate cannabis into their physical work.
We’re going to take a look at four artists who create weed art—that is, weed art.
Fred Tomaselli is a psychedelic collage artist and artist known for incorporating psychedelic drugs, including pills and pot leaves, into his works. Coming of age in the 1970s, he recognized early that “the rhetoric surrounding paintings was very similar to that surrounding psychedelic drugs”, in particular that each was seen as a “window on the world”. But this diversion of psychotropic material is not simply subversive, he insists.
“For me, when I started putting psychoactive material into the work, the pot leaves and things like that, I was really thinking about reordering the use value of these objects. [Instead] of traveling through the blood to alter consciousness, they travel through the eyeballs.
Tomaselli no longer uses drugs – in his work or life – but at one point he admitted WBUR Boston, he grew pot leaves specifically to use in his art. “Putting hemp leaves into my world also infused the form of nature into my work. I loved how the soft form of nature began to combine with the hard form of the pharmaceutical industry.”
One of his most famous works, 1994 Super plantincludes cannabis leaf, ephedrine, coffee, morning glory, tobacco and psychedelic mushrooms.
Several other Tomaselli works featuring cannabis leaves include After Utah St, Expulsionand Wow and flutter.
Tony Greenhand is perhaps one of the most famous joint players in the world. Scroll through his Instagram you’ll find Pokemon models, Futurama characters, Mike Tyson and more – all completely smokeable. He even holds the world record for the largest joint with it 4.2 lb watermelonand hosts the show Let’s Roll on Roku, where he rolls joints for celebrity clients, then smokes them.
Greenhand (noun de guerre) grew up working with wood and clay and was initially abhorrent at rolling joints, but took it as a challenge to improve. “I noticed there were several books on how to do it cross joints and windmills and things like that. I made a few of them for my friends and they really liked them, so I kept wanting to try new things,” Greenhand said Vice in 2021. “One of my friends convinced me to post online because people on Reddit would love it, and it just blew up from there.”
Greenhand’s work has grown to attract the attention of clients such as Tommy Chong, 2 Chainz and Rihanna, and his final products sell for as much as $10,000.
As a student at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Cliff Maynard was penniless and saved every cockroach he could pass on to a second generation the joints. Working one evening on an introductory mosaic, Cliff looked from his pile of magazine clippings to his jar of cockroaches and inspiration struck him. Maynard has been producing ever since impressive portraits of Snoop Dogg and John Lennon, as well as unique pieces like the official poster for HempFest Seattle 2011 — all using tissue paper.
“I’m always a little worried that I might get into trouble for my art,” Maynard told Herb in 2016. “That’s why I didn’t make my work public sooner. However, I think times are changing. The marijuana movement is winning battles left and right.
See more of Maynard’s work his Instagram.
Yasmin Bawa is a Berlin-based sculptor who works with “hemp concrete”, a mixture of hemp, clay and lime. He started out as a fashion designer, but left this hectic world to “focus on something slower where I can really spend time nurturing my design aspirations.”
After abandoning fashion for sculpture, Bava initially began sculpting with concrete, but wanted something more environmentally sustainable. Between production and delivery, the concrete is responsible for grading 4-8% of global CO2, trailing only coal, oil and gas. But in hemp concrete, hemp biomass complements limestone for a strong, lightweight building material that actually serves as a carbon sink, absorbing carbon emissions from the environment and into the structure. Hemp concreteor hemp lime, is already used as insulation in next-generation green buildings.
[It] it is important to consider the materials we put into our homes and make sure they are as strong as possible and naturally as much as possible,” says Bava. “I think it’s easy to forget that our environment is such an important energy resource for both our physical and mental well-being.”
There are tons of other names, including cannabis art Alice Serpentiniwho mixes hemp dust into her paints, and Chris Burden “Coal to Newcastle,” in which he transported joints across the Mexican border on paper airplanes in 1978. No doubt more artists will emerge as the barriers to cannabis continue to fall through legalization. We can’t wait to see what high art is to come.