By: Stephanie Shehan Cover Photo: Photographer: Randijah Simmons Set: Sierra Hood Stylist: Melian Junius (wearing all MelianJ) Emily Eizen is a queer multimedia artist working in the mediums of painting, sculpture, photography, modeling, and performance. Her ‘60s psychedelic inspired works showcase the beauty, freedom and diversity Eizen considers essential to establishing equity in the […]
By: Stephanie Shehan
Cover Photo: Photographer: Randijah Simmons Set: Sierra Hood Stylist: Melian Junius (wearing all MelianJ)
Emily Eizen is a queer multimedia artist working in the mediums of painting, sculpture, photography, modeling, and performance. Her ‘60s psychedelic inspired works showcase the beauty, freedom and diversity Eizen considers essential to establishing equity in the cannabis space and beyond. Emily’s portfolio and commissions highlight her ability to adapt to different styles and aesthetics across spectrums of gender and sexuality, defying convention. I recently had the chance to chat with Emily about art, her love of cannabis and her work within the industry.
STEPHANIE SHEHAN: When did your cannabis journey begin?
EMILY EIZEN: My cannabis journey began when I was in college, freshman year. I was studying political science in DC, and felt disconnected from my creative roots, and honestly, myself. I started hotboxing the dorm bathroom with my roommate/best friend, and all of the sudden it felt like I found my purpose again. I instantly felt more connected to a higher power (no pun intended). I also started doing art again, which I had left behind in high school when I really got into activism and politics. Not soon after, I moved back home to LA and took art classes at Santa Monica College and worked as a budtender. From there, that’s when I noticed a major lack of creative, diverse, meaningful imagery in the cannabis space. I began doing social media for this dispensary, and my career took off from there.
SS: And, how about your artistic journey? Have you always been a creative person?
EE: I have always been a creative person. In school, I was always the one doodling and scribbling on every piece of paper, my shoes, and even my skin. I loved printing out and cutting up pictures and making collages. I felt very much like an outcast starting in 5th grade. Luckily, in 6th grade I found art as a serious mode of self expression and was taken under the wing of my art teacher. I ate lunch in the art room every day, and started taking painting lessons outside of school.
SS: I would assume merging cannabis and art came naturally – was there intention behind that?
EE: It definitely did come naturally. When my passion for cannabis came along, it felt like I found the piece I was missing to kickstart my creativity. I showcase a lot of cannabis use in my photography in order to create a narrative, but my paintings are a secondary, more personal intersection of cannabis and art, more inspired by the feeling it creates in me rather than the subject itself.
SS: What form of art do you like best and why?
EE: It’s definitely hard to pick one, but if I had to I would say painting because I can use multiple mixed media elements such as my photography to convey a more complex message and express myself in a more intimate way.
SS: Have you worked within the cannabis industry? And if so, what did you like best and least?
EE: I have worked as a budtender at many different shops. What I liked the best was meeting the extremely diverse population that uses cannabis for so many different reasons, learning about all the different types of products and connecting with brands. However, especially during the pre-recreational era where there were less rules, there was a lot of sexism, sexualization and disrespect by a large portion of male cannabis enthusiasts that treat women like props, not to be taken seriously. Also during that time, there were no workplace standards so shops could treat you however they wanted with no repercussions. There were a lot of good things about that era too, such as no taxes, compassion for struggling and homeless cannabis users, and more freedom in general, but it also had a dark side to it.
SS: California’s medical cannabis movement was largely impacted by people like Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary. As an outspoken, queer cannabis advocate, do you feel like the industry retains those same roots today? If not, how would you like to see the industry get back there?
EE: I think as legalization grows, and cannabis becomes more corporate, it becomes less and less in touch with the queer comminity. There are some queer owned cannabis brands but for the most part people are flooding this industry for greed. As long as profit is the most important thing to brands, we will never be able to compare ourselves to people like Mary or Peron. That is why I do the work that I do, highlighting queer people, espeicially BIPOC queer folks in my art using cannabis. By highlighting folks who have been here, using cannabis since before it was profitable or even safe to do so openly, I feel like I am keeping their spirit alive and reminding cannabis culture of its history.
SS: What does your typical cannabis-infused day look like?
EE: It looks different for me each day. Sometimes I will roll a joint first thing in the morning, other times I will wait to smoke until after I get some “serious” work done. I am a joint smoker mostly. I love the ritual of rolling and smoking a joint just as much as I enjoy the high. I almost always smoke before any artistic activity such as shooting or painting. It just helps me enter “the zone”.
SS: Since it is February, the month of love – do you have a significant other? And if so, how do you keep romance alive? Does cannabis play a part in that? Any favorite cannabis based products that assist with good sex?
EE: I do have a very significant other in my life. Her name is April. We met at the dispensary I mentioned earlier. She also works in the cannabis industry and sometimes I joke (but not really joke) that we are a cannabis power couple. I love smoking with her and sitting side by side doing our own work, or relaxing with her after a long day, smoking and watching our favorite shows. I really enjoy the Kush Queen lube, especially their pride collection which donates money to a different charity every year.
SS: What’s your favorite way to consume? Any favorite products?
EE: My favorite way to consume is smoking. I almost exclusively smoke as a medium of consumption. Right now, my favorite product to smoke is Space Coyote infused joints.
SS: What advice would you give to young people looking to develop artistically?
EE: Don’t compare yourself to other people, especially on social media. I remind myself of this all the time. In an age where art and “content” are being used interchangeably, it puts a lot of pressure on artists to churn out work and post it like clockwork, and it seems like everyone is always doing something impressive. In this environment it ‘s easy to be hard on yourself, but as long as you are creating and getting time to recharge, that is enough.
Check out Emily’s work at emilyeizen.com. Follow her on Instagram @emilyeizen.