In celebration of Pride, Northern California-based sustainable cannabis brand Aster Farms chose queer Guatemalan-Slovak artist Ludi Leiva to reimagine the packaging for one of their most popular products, their Mimosa one gram pre-roll. This special limited-edition collaboration is available in retail locations across California with all proceeds donated to a charity of Ludi’s choice (keep reading to find out which one!). Her vibrant art captures the eye with pops of color and feelings of whimsy while exuding a sense of peace, harmony and inclusivity. Ludi was inspired by Aster Farms’ sustainability ethos, as well as oneness with the abundance of the natural world.
Ludi’s illustrations aim to bring brighter futures to life, exploring narratives of healing, empowerment, and expansion, while celebrating people of all shapes, colors, sizes, and identities. Inspired, we asked Ludi to go into more detail about this special collaboration with Aster Farms.
HONEYSUCKLE MAGAZINE: How does cannabis inspire your creative process?
LUDI LEIVA: I’m extremely inspired by the natural world, by changing landscapes and plants from different parts of the world. In an increasingly unsustainable world, I’m inspired by the ways in which some cultures, particularly Indigenous peoples, have lived and continue to live in harmony with nature, finding all they need from the earth and using these gifts sustainably. Of course, cannabis is of the natural world, as are many plant medicines that have brought healing to people for hundreds of thousands of years, and these things have often been incorporated into my work. We’ve moved so far away from previous alignment with the earth, and I find that getting to know and love nature better can help us all to be more thoughtful and compassionate about our connection, relationship and responsibility to the natural world. Creating pieces that center around different plants and natural landscapes is really just an impulse I’ve felt and have chosen to follow; it brings me a lot of joy.
Why are you drawn to the themes of healing, self-actualization, and expansion in your art?
My art process is largely an introspective journey and these are themes that are top of mind for me. My work centers primarily around the exploration of women and femmes’ inner worlds, particularly the process of expansion. Much of this need for expansion has to do with the many layers of restriction that heteropatriarchal cultures have forced upon feminine bodies, requiring many of us to shrink ourselves. Healing is a direct part of this, as is self-actualization. This is likely why so much of my work depicts large bodies, primarily of color, taking up the majority of the frame, it’s a way of challenging current paradigms and power dynamics and exploring what it would look like for those who have been marginalized by society to be centered, exalted, and encouraged to not only physically but spiritually expand.
What are some of your favorite colors?
My work is colorful and vibrant, and I stick to a warm palette defined mostly by pinks, reds, and oranges, with pops of cool colors as contrasting accents. I like to work mostly with a restrained color palette.
How does your Guatemalan-Slovak heritage inform your work?
As a third-culture kid, raised far away from both of my ancestral homelands, much of my life has been characterized by this aching to reconnect and understand myself better as it pertains to both of my cultures. So these are central themes in my work. Recently, I created a line of jewelry inspired by flowers from both Slovakia and Guatemala, and much of my visual art is an exploration of identity, culture, and diasporic identity. I’m fascinated by the lives of my ancestors, thinking about how they lived, what they dreamed of, what brought them joy and inspired them, and these questions often find their way into my art practice.
How does identifying as queer inform your work?
My queerness influences all that I do as it is part of who I am. I like to create visual worlds where queer joy is centered, and imagine brighter futures in which can go beyond just surviving, but be celebrated and allowed to step into all of ourselves and thrive in that place.
What’s your favorite way to celebrate Pride Month?
I like to surround myself with community, savor every moment, and practice gratitude. Pride looks different for me every year; this year it will be spent with friends and loved ones in New York City and Los Angeles, as well as in nature. The common thread is prioritizing joy, and after more than a year of isolation, I’m looking forward to a month dedicated to the pursuit of joy and lightness.
Advocacy and volunteer work is important to you — what are some of the organizations you support and why? Which will you be choosing to highlight for this collaboration?
I give to a variety of different organizations on a regular basis, some of my favorite organizations to support are The Okra Project [a collective providing meals and resources to the Black trans community], The Indigenous Environmental Network, The Sylvia Rivera Law Project [an organization working to ensure freedom from discrimination for trans, intersex and gender-nonconforming individuals who are low-income or BIPOC], in addition to mutual aid. I’m particularly interested in supporting initiatives that uplift queer and trans people of color and Indigenous communities. For this collaboration, I chose to support Black And Pink, an organization dedicated to abolishing the criminal punishment system and liberating LGBTQIA+ people, as well as those living with HIV/AIDS who have been touched by the prison system. This mission is crucial, but given the way the war on drugs has (and continues to) ravaged communities across the country, I felt this was an especially important mission to support.