This week JADEO caught up with Portland-based cannabis collage artist Savina Fierro (@savinamonet) and got to hear about how she found herself working in this creative niche within the industry.
When did you start working in collage?
Collage was something I started in 2015 while I worked as a receptionist. I did nothing all day... I did absolutely nothing. So, I decided to open up my office’s paint program. I downloaded Gimp, a free version of Photoshop and began cut and pasting and trying out themes. I also tried to do it at home, using paper.
What made you decide on the title “cannabis collage artist?”
It was kind of a title I was given. People would say “she’s a cannabis collage lady!” It was stifling at first, like I could never branch out, but I’ve embraced it.
Can you tell us how cannabis became a central theme in your art?
Cannabis has always been in my life, so it became obvious to throw it into my art. I love to make surreal landscapes, and I’d think woah, (I probably was high one day)... cannabis can be a big tree! I played with that in my collage, and started exploring. Cannabis, after all, is a flower, and a part of nature just as anything else; a tree, a bush. It works. People are familiar with the flower cannabis, but also familiar with the feeling. I try to evoke the feeling in my work.
When did you decide to turn it into a business?
It really has evolved - now I’m a collage artist, graphic designer, and creative director for the cannabis industry. It actually first started back in the Fall of 2016 because I was trying to create a cannabis design agency that would offer other services. I had a partner who saw my collages and thought it would be cool for our social media, back in November 2017. It was supposed to be a catered media company towards the cannabis market, but in January 2017 when the Cole Memo came out in the United States, it stated that anyone associated with cannabis industries are still breaking federal law and will be prosecuted. My partner was spooked enough to want to stop. After my partner decided not to continue, I said - ok this will be a one-woman show. Oregonians are so secure in our little bubble of cannabis legalization that we’re not as afraid of that anymore.
Have companies found you through Instagram?
Oh my goodness, I devote my career to Instagram! When I first started, I got a list of cannabis companies registered with the state - I would go down and call them and see if they needed anything. I didn’t get any clients that way. All of my current clientele has been through word of mouth: “hey I’ve seen this, or so and so told me.”
Tell us about some cool projects you’ve worked on.
I did a project with NuLeaf Portland, they are a capital raising company for people of colour here, looking to get into the cannabis industry. I mostly do commissions for brands, and that’s how I’ve seen my art transform into products for people’s companies. I try to incorporate part of the brand’s personality. You can tell it’s Savina, but it still keeps the essence of the brand.
Are there any other projects you’re particularly fond of?
Another one I’m proud of, which is channeling a different style, is a magazine called Mercatus that’s coming out in June. It started as a collective for entrepreneurs of colour in Portland, with an online directory where people could go for support. It’s grown so much they are putting out their first publication. And they are inclusive of people of colour working in the cannabis industry. That’ what I love about cannabis, it gives us that liberty we all love, in something people are passionate about.
How do you use cannabis in your self-care?
I don’t use cannabis as much as I think I would. I probably smoke a joint or take a dab in the morning, and then not again until the end of the day. I do consume daily because it helps me keep a baseline. I am super neurotic and I get too zoned in, so it helps me return to “normal.”
Have you been approached by any Canadian companies?
I did a commission for a cannabis distributor called The Cannabis Complex for your legalization day. I think that was the only one.