High Definition Art


The creative world is helping to re-brand the new generation of legal cannabis, shedding the “counter” part of “counterculture.”  


For the Portland-based business, Cannastudio, this means re-visualizing the cannabis plant through photography and design.


The studio showcases kaleidoscope-like designs, created by Eliav Cohen, founder and CEO of the company. Cohen crafts his visual art from his photos, which are then digitally designed and enhanced.

His pieces are a composition of photos of dabs, flowers, seeds, trichomes, and other features of the plant that abound with colors and textures. Images are close-ups of cannabis products, but they’re only subtly recognizable – if at all – as such. The effect Cohen creates is just as trippy as it is sophisticated; reminiscent of something seen under a microscope, or perhaps even a Magic Eye book.   


Cohen’s work, which includes titles like “90s Love,” “Buds and Roses,” or “Never Getting Older,” incorporates different aspects of technology, cannabis culture, entertainment, and fashion. He is heavily inspired by his experiences, especially traveling, which are reflected in prints like “First Time in Paris,” or “Late Night in Kauai.”


These prints are featured and sold on Cannastudio’s website. Customers will soon be able to sport his designs on apparel, Cohen said. The first on the list: leggings, and bookmarks. Other clothing items, like scarves and shorts, will also be available for purchase in the near future.


His creations are open to interpretation, Cohen said, but to him, they’re defined as a unification of art + cannabis.


The plant has long been used as a muse for artists, including Cohen. His admiration for cannabis formed at a young age; something he said was influenced by his childhood in Eugene, Oregon, “a liberal town where cannabis is easy to access.”

However, Cohen’s first passion is music. He began playing the drums more than a decade ago, and attended Columbia College in Chicago where he received a degree in music and business management. He then moved to New York City, and interned for Bad Boy Record, Puff Daddy’s label. “I fell in love with the music scene, and wanted to bring a piece of that culture and match it with cannabis,” he explained of his decision to launch Cannastudio, and converge his passion for the two worlds.


His work departs from the typical ‘buds and bikinis,’ or pictures of nugs, he described. “That turns people off, it’s not appealing. That’s not what [cannabis] is about.” Rather, Cohen showcases the beauty of the plant itself in its many forms.


“Cannabis as art isn’t a statement about getting or being high,” he explained, “it’s a reflection of a changing and accepting world. Thus, while my work has intrinsic artistic value – the images are beautiful to look at – it also makes a statement about our times, which has always been an important function of artwork and artists, and about who we are.”

More than ever, the artisans of the industry — from cuisine to smokeware, branding to cultivation — play a role in how cannabis is perceived.


There’s a growing space for cannabis-themed art, especially in  the realms of fashion and contemporary art, a fact confirmed in the recent article, titled “Hotboxing the White Cube: The Rise of Marijuana Culture in High Art,” published in Canada’s leading art magazine, “Canadian Art.” All over the world, more galleries have started to showcase cannabis related art exhibitions, such as “#Grassland” at Penticon Art Gallery in British Columbia, or “Outlaw Glass” featured at New York’s Apexart.


Cohen believes this growth allows opportunities for artists to re-redefine cannabis culture.

“[Artists] definitely have an opportunity to change what’s being presented to customers,” he explained. As creators, “there’s a huge opportunity that most people don’t have.”


“The door is opening for artists of cannabis because it’s [use is] becoming more prevalent and open,” he said. It wasn’t like this five years ago, he added, “[there’s] more day-to-day use, and because of that, [there’s] more of a need and want for that kind of art.”

“Art evolves, medicine evolves, law and society evolve. For thousands of years, art has depicted people drinking wine for instance (or other things), and it’s a part of the human experience,” Cohen added, “Bringing art and cannabis together is a logical incorporation of the things that shape our lives.”

To view, purchase, or find out more, visit Cannastudio online at

Emerald contributor since February 2016


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