Cannabis has been inspiring art and artists for as long as humans have been consuming it. Throughout history, some of our favorite writers have been known to partake as part of their creative process. And more recently, cannabis culture has provided a space for glass blowers to showcase their talent and vision. But some artists take that inspiration a step further and actually incorporate cannabis into their physical work. We’re going to review four artists who create weed art — that is, art out of weed. 

Continue Reading Below

Fred Tomaselli

Fred Tomaselli is a psychedelic collage artist and painter known for incorporating psychedelic drugs, including pills and pot leaves, into his works. Coming of age in the 1970s, he recognized early on that, “the rhetoric around paintings was very similar to that around psychedelic drugs,” specifically that each was considered a ‘window into the world.’ But this repurposing of psychotropic materials is not merely subversive, he insists. “For me, when I started putting psychoactive material in the work, the pot leaves and that sort of thing, I was really thinking about rearranging the use value of those objects. [Instead] of traveling through the bloodstream to alter consciousness they travel through the eyeballs.”

collage art by Fred Tomaselli called Untitled (Expulsion) Untitled (Expulsion) by Fred Tomaselli
Photo Credit: Fred Tomaselli via Christies
Tomaselli no longer uses drugs — in his work or life — but at one point, he admitted to WBUR Boston, he grew pot leaves specifically to use in his art. “Putting hemp leaves into my world also instilled the shape of nature into my work. I liked how the soft shape of nature began to combine with the hard shape of the pharmaceutical industry.” One of his most famous works, 1994’s Super Plant, incorporates cannabis leaves, ephedrine, coffee, morning glory, tobacco, and psychedelic mushrooms.  A few other works by Tomaselli incorporating cannabis leaves include After Utah Saint, Expulsion, and Wow and Flutter.

Tony Greenhand

Tony Greenhand may be the one of the world’s most famous joint rollers. Scrolling through his Instagram you’ll find models of Pokemon, Futurama characters, Mike Tyson and more — all completely smokeable. He even holds the world record for largest joint with this 4.2 lb watermelon, and hosts the show Let’s Roll on Roku, where he rolls joints for celebrity clients then smokes with them.

Rick and Morty characters (TV show) sculpted as smokeable joints Smokeable joints by Tony Greenhand of Rick and Morty characters
Photo Credit: @tonygreenhand Instagram
Greenhand (a nom de guerre) grew up working with wood and clay, and was initially lousy at rolling joints, but took that as a challenge to improve. “I noticed there were a couple of books on how to do cross joints and windmills and stuff like that. I did a few of those for my friends, and they really liked them, so I kept wanting to try new things,” Greenhand told Vice in 2021. “One of my friends convinced me to post online because people on Reddit would love it, and it blew up from there.” Greenhand’s work has blown up to attract the attention of clients like Tommy Chong, 2 Chainz, and Rihanna, and his final products sell for as much as $10,000.

Continue Reading Below

Cliff Maynard

As a student at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Cliff Maynard was strapped for cash and saving every last roach he could to roll into second gen joints. Working one night on an introductory mosaic, Cliff looked from his pile of magazine clippings to his jar of roaches, and inspiration struck. Since then, Maynard has produced eye-popping portraits of Snoop Dog and John Lennon, as well as unique pieces like the official poster for Seattle’s HempFest 2011 — all using roach paper. 

portrait of Bob Marley created with leftover roach paper Portrait of Bob Marley by Cliff Maynard, created from roach paper
“I’m always a little worried that I may run into some trouble for my art,” Maynard told Herb in 2016. “That’s why I didn’t take my work public sooner. I think times are changing, though. The marijuana movement has been winning battles left and right.” See more of Maynard’s work on his Instagram.

Yasmin Bawa

Yasmin Bawa is a sculptor based in Berlin who works with “hempcrete,” a mixture of hemp, clay, and lime. She began as a fashion designer, but left that fast-paced world to “focus on something slower, where I could really spend time nurturing my design aspirations.” After leaving fashion for sculpture, Bawa initially began sculpting with concrete, but wanted something more environmentally sustainable. Between manufacturing and shipping, concrete is responsible for an estimated 4-8% of the world’s CO2, trailing only coal, oil, and gas. But in hempcrete, the biomass of the hemp rounds out the lime for a sturdy, lightweight building material that actually serves as a carbon sink, absorbing carbon emissions out of the environment and into the structure. Hempcrete, or hemp lime, is already being used as insulation in next-generation green buildings.

light blue structure made out of hempcrete “Kali vessel” hempcrete structure by Yasmin Bawa
Photo Credit:
[It] is important to consider the materials that we put inside our homes and make sure they are as healthy and natural as possible,” says Bawa. “I think it’s easy to forget that our environment is such an important energy resource for both our physical and mental wellbeing.”

Continue Reading Below

The Wrap Up

There are tons of other names making cannabis art including Alyssa Serpentini, who mixes hemp powder into her paints, and Chris Burden “Coals to Newcastle”’s performance in which he flew joints across the Mexican border on paper airplanes in 1978. Undoubtedly more artists will emerge as barriers to cannabis continue to fall through legalization. We can’t wait to see what high art lies ahead.