Written by Art Cosgrove
Cannabis and artistic expression go hand-in-hand. Now that the industry has come out of the shadows, so have the genres of art it inspires.
Julia Krase is riding this wave. She primarily works as a sequential artist, a medium that uses images to tell a story, and supplements her income as a bud-tender at the popular dispensary in northeast Portland, Oregon’s Best Buds.
Krase, 28 moved to Portland one year ago from the California Bay Area where she grew up. She studied illustration at the prestigious Kubert School, located in Dover, New Jersey. The art school was founded by legendary cartoon and graphic artist, the late Joe Kubert, and was attended and is staffed by his two sons, Andy and Adam, both legendary comicbook artists in their own rights.
“While in college, I fell in love with the artists from classic Heavy Metal issues like Moebius (aka Jean Giraud), Sergio Toppi and Richard Corben. I love having the freedom to draw what I want,” says Krase, “but that means I must work a day job to support that habit.” She’d love to create comics all the time, she adds, “but finding the right story and publisher to work with can be a journey, and of course most stories end — so the hunt for work is endless.”
Krase already self published one comic, titled “In the Reedy River,” in 2014 and is currently working on a sequel. She’s also working on several cannabis projects concurrently. The transition from comics to cannabis art was seamless for Krase; as a longtime fan of cannabis, she finds it complements her art.
“I find myself compelled to draw or paint most after I smoke. The right strain can really put me in a groovy mood,” says Krase of her method, “and music tends to help move the mind in a creative direction for me, sending me off into intense visual daydreams that lead to a lot of my doodling.”
Right now, the demand for both comics and cannabis art, particularly from female creators, is booming. Krase is working at the intersection of these two art forms to help shape the future of the medium.
“I think the need for cannabis art that isn’t too psychedelic or “stoney” will continue to grow. The need for well designed packaging, advertisements, and marketing campaigns are already in the hands of amazing designers,” says Krase, noting that the opportunities for new styles and the demand for art will continue to grow.
Krase found herself working a day job in the cannabis industry in a similar way she found herself drawing about it; from her real life appreciation of weed.
“I’ve always been interested in the cannabis business, but my foot-in-the-door opportunity came from my favorite dispensary in Vallejo, California, a place called the HTP Group,” says Krase of the first dispensary she worked for. “I met the owners and gave them some of my art to enjoy. Through them, I got a mural painting gig at their new location, volunteer work at the Cannabis Cup and other events to participate in.”
This experience made her choice of a day job seem like a no-brainer. “When I moved up to Oregon I tried working regular “nine-to-five” jobs but really wanted to work in a field I was passionate about.” Ideally, she said, that would be art but cannabis is a close second.
In the near future, Krase hopes to see more opportunities for her two passions — comics and cannabis — to converge, perhaps even within her own storylines.
One thing’s for sure. Krase will be tabling at comic conventions this year and next. She’s also got plans for a new cannabis piece entitled “Space Queen” which will be sure to please vape fans. “Her head has a globe atomizer filled with vapor, and all you can see are her mystical eyes,” says Krase of the new piece, “I love illustrating smoke and hands holding joints, so they tend to pop up in my art all the time.”
Julia Krase’s work, including her first comic, can be seen, purchased or commissioned on her website, WasteOfPaint.net.