“Cannabis welcomes the opportunity to achieve and embrace your most free and creative state where you can create from a place of joy,” says Janel Young, aka JY Originals, a Chicago-native painter, muralist and community leader.
Young recently had the opportunity to make her first contribution to the marijuana industry. She was invited to join the Artist Collective with Curaleaf’s CURLF Select Brand to design a Black History Month enamel pin, which she called “Mark the Moon.”
Her style encompasses bright colors, geometric patterns, skilled blending and signature African-inspired tribal symbols to express the rebellious concept of creating from a place of joy as a Black woman artist.
“The artwork depicts a Black woman's hand putting her red, green and black flag on an unnamed planet in outer space. It celebrates the act of achieving and embracing your most free, creative state, and leaving your mark as you do it.”
Her art was also featured on an exclusive Select Cliq skin design.
This Select and Janel Young line is available to Curaleaf customers in Illinois, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey and Florida.
Discrimination Is Everywhere, But The Art World Is Changing
The inspiration to join the cannabis space came when Young decided she wanted to “tell a story about freedom, joy, connection and wellness in a space that has been riddled with a complicated history and obstacles for Black people, in particular.”
People of color unfortunately still experience discrimination in every industry out there, but Young believes that a major positive change is happening in the art world. It's a special time, she says, a renaissance even.
“I love to see that Black artists are playing a major role in the elevation, opening the minds, hearts and wallets of large corporations and systems that historically have minimized our talents,” Young said. “Similarly to the marijuana world, there has not been much room for Black artists to express whimsicality in their everyday life. I'm hopeful that this is changing on both fronts.”
Young's designs for Curaleaf express a different narrative – a space where the positive impacts of cannabis can be celebrated and welcomed without judgment.
She's also designed and painted a four-wall mural at Curaleaf’s retail store on Weed Street in Chicago. The imagery shared the theme with the enamel pin, aiming to make customers feel like they are observing various perspectives of the same whimsical universe.
“For example, you will see the same planets and surroundings no matter which room you're in during your visit, but you will see them at varying sizes, distances, and angles,” Young explains. “It's a memorable journey through the retail space to ultimately get you wherever you desire to be -- literally or figuratively.”
I Was Born An Artist
Young’s talent was obvious since she was a child, or as she says, “I was born an artist.” Thankfully, both her parents and teachers supported and nurtured her gift since elementary school. Nevertheless, becoming a full-time artist was not as straightforward a path as some may imagine. She went to a creative and performing arts middle school and graduated from college with a B.S. in Business Marketing and International Studies.
Young spent five years working at a corporate PR firm as a digital strategist until she decided she was ready for a more creative path. In 2018, she began a career as a freelance artist, while also painting murals full-time for an organization in the Big Apple. After several projects, Young figured it out. She was “meant to be a full-time artist helping people connect, heal and discover through artwork and workshops. I do it for the communities I serve as much as I do it for myself. My passion and my job is largely to echo the voices of people who feel unheard.”
Seeing how her work impacts others is what motivates her – having the power to lighten someone's day, even when far away in another city or state.
“My main goal is to inspire through creativity and play,” she says. “I want to spread joy while telling colorful stories. “
Young's favorite way of sharing her art is through painting, specifically public artwork because it can collectively inspire, make people curious and spark important and meaningful conversations. “It also means I get to take up space and encourage other artists like me to do the same,” she adds.
In addition to multi-state marijuana operator Curaleaf, Young had the opportunity to be commissioned by brands such as NBA All World, the Chicago Sky via Dapper Labs, the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, Verizon Media, and Yahoo, to name a few.
Photo: Courtesy of Curealeaf and JY Originals
© 2023 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
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