CULTURE

Cannabis & Creativity: NYC Artist JDel Reveals His Weed Secrets

Jdel holding his "1997" piece inspired by Cartoon Network's Johnny Bravo
Jdel holding his "1997" piece inspired by Cartoon Network's Johnny Bravo / Photo by cool.hands

As New York continues to establish their legal cannabis culture, locals are looking to the City’s creatives to tell their stories. JDel is an NYC-based visual artist who thoughtfully infuses cannabis into his creations, inviting weed into Gotham’s artworld conversation. 

A ’90s kid through and through, JDel is heavily influenced by graffiti, cartoons, and legacy cannabis culture. His witty and vibrant pieces reflect on his childhood memories, adolescent emotions, and his early relationship with the plant. 

The Bluntness and JDel discussed his artistic influences, the best and worst times to consume cannabis during work, and the perfect amount of toasted tobacco to add to the joint.

Visual Artist JDel is Inspired by 90s Nostalgia, New York, and Weed

A creative in every sense of the word, JDel has been painting and drawing for as long as he can remember. Dabbling in the music world as well, JDel aims to contribute to creative culture from as many directions as possible, keeping cannabis at the center of his inspiration.

He recently established MindBodyPockets, a company that celebrates graffiti, music, art, cartoons, and cannabis – a.k.a., encapsulating everything JDel sought refuge in as a kid growing up in Queens, New York.

JDel utilizes watercolor and acrylic paint to inform his work, which rejuvenates notable characters from popular ’90s cartoons. His work speaks deeply to viewers, using the nostalgic images as a means to share messages about racial inequality, mental health, and physical violence.

How JDel Utilizes (And Avoids) Cannabis For Artistic Expression

Jdel holding his "1991" collection inspired by Nickelodeon's The Ren & Stimpy Show
Jdel holding his "1991" collection inspired by Nickelodeon's The Ren & Stimpy Show / Photo by cool.hands

“I think my work directly ties into smoking weed because that’s what helps me concentrate, pay attention to detail, and increase my poise and patience while I’m working,” JDel said.

“With my artwork specifically, it almost feels meditative. You start to lay all the colors on, and when you get to the final outline and see it all coming together…and you’re high? It’s like, hell yeah.”

Although JDel draws a lot of comfort and inspiration from consuming cannabis while creating artwork, it tends to have the opposite effect when he’s working on music – especially during a live performance.

“When I’m working on my music or having to perform…I get so amazed when I see Snoop and other people smoking while performing. They must know their material so well. I think there’s levels to it, and I haven’t gotten there yet,” JDel said.

This honest self-reflection is somewhat revelatory to the cannabis industry, especially as it continues to evolve and establish the different levels of consumption. 

A few years ago, there were two ways of consuming cannabis: either you did, or you didn’t. Today, consumers are much more conscious around their consumption – when it works for them, when it doesn’t, and how to strike the perfect balance. The same goes for cannabis and creativity.

For JDel, it isn’t just a matter of using cannabis while creating art and refraining from it when performing. The artist regularly takes breaks from the plant to recenter, reevaluate, and figure out what his body needs – and he encourages others to do the same.

“Do not be smoking every single day for a whole year and not really know why you ain’t getting shit done. Use it, but don’t get numb to it. That’s coming from experience…enjoy it when you know you’re really going to enjoy it,” JDel said.

In general, JDel’s approach to cannabis is representative of the industry’s new wave: welcoming, inviting, and free from any pressure to consume more than you’re ready for. 

“When I was smoking weed when I was younger, I don’t think it was as comfortable as it is smoking now – knowing yourself and everything like that,” JDel said.

“The other day, me and my boy went out, and he pulled something out and just started smoking before we got on the subway. That works for him – he might need that before he goes on the train. But in general, know where your comfort is and when you can handle it.”

For first-time consumers, JDel recommends smoking with a friend you trust to ensure you’re comfortable and in a safe space to explore. 

JDel on NYC Smoking Culture (And His First Plant Experience)

Cannabis is an important part of JDel's work. So are tolerance breaks.
Cannabis is an important part of JDel's work. So are tolerance breaks. / Photo by cool.hands

JDel is obviously inspired by ’90s animation, cannabis, and graffiti culture – but as for other artists in the space and publications that gear towards the creative, there are quite a few he looks up to and draws innovation from. 

“As far as places to find art, I’m impressed with Hi-Fructose Magazine, I’m impressed with Juxtapoz Magazineand now with Instagram, I can just look at art all day,” JDel said.

“I like WK Interact, I like Banksy…I don’t really want to shout any graffiti artists right now, but they know who they are.”

JDel also stays true to his New York roots, pulling inspiration from well-known Brooklyn graffiti artists Neck Face and Jerkface. 

Music isn’t the only area in which he pulls New York-centric inspiration from. JDel smokes cannabis in a way that is absolutely unique to New York’s culture: with bamboo rolling papers and a nice strip of toasted fronto leaf – although some of his peers think he adds a little too much. 

“We were at a party, and my friend asked me to roll him up one. Before that, he was going crazy…he smoked that shit, and then he walked up to me and was like, ‘Yo. This is very humbling,’” JDel said with a laugh.

The visual artist has a lot of dos and don’ts to share when it comes to smoking cannabis, which had us eager to hear about his first-ever experience with the plant.

“The first time I ever smoked weed, I was going to a new school, and some kid came up to me and had me give weed to someone else. I said, ‘All right,’ and I gave it to him. We end up inside the same class, and we both smoke in the school bathroom,” JDel said.

“I think this was sixth or seventh grade. We went to smoke, and I swore we were going to get caught. I was so high – I swore it was on my clothes. We came out, and the whole hallway smelled like weed. At that moment I said, that’s going to be my new thing. Smoking in the bathroom. That broke me in.”

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