For queer multimedia artist Emily Eizen, growing up around the blonde volleyball players of Manhattan Beach, CA made her feel like the odd girl out. But instead of letting those negative teenage feelings consume her, Eizen turned to her passions for purpose and joy. It was during this time that she solidified her love of visual media, spending lunches eating in the art room to hide from bullies. Now, as a painter, sculpture, photographer, model, and performer, Eizen’s love of visual mediums has only grown stronger, and her love of creating has grown to include another interest of hers: cannabis.
While working as a budtender in Santa Monica, Eizen noticed a lack of creativity and inspiring images in the world of cannabis. Inspired by both passions, she decided to combine them to make something new, unique, and innovative. She’s part of a movement in the cannabis industry —and even in the mainstream world — where young people are acting as their own bosses and making their own rules.
And for Eizen, one of the main rules is to use whatever platform she gets for the greater good. She’s been interested in social justice and activism since she was a teen, and using her platform and privilege to advocate for others continues to be an integral part of her work. Eizen cares strongly about sexism in the cannabis industry, which she says looks at women as props for male consumption. LGBTQ+ rights and racial equity in the industry are also deeply important to her. In 2019, Eizen designed the PRIDE campaign for Kush Queen, which highlighted the beauty of all bodies by putting gender nonconforming people of color front and center. Deeply inspired by the aesthetics and ideas of the 1960s and ’70s revolutionaries, Eizen recreates that free-spirited, colorful, all-loving, political vibe with ease.
Now, in the midst of a pandemic, Eizen isn’t feeling stuck. Instead, she’s continuing to make art from safe spaces and planning for a future full of inclusive events. From stories of her school years and budtending to creating art and experiencing her very own cannabis love story, Eizen chatted with GO Magazine, letting us in a bit more on her personal life.
GO Mag: Hey Emily! I want to say that your artwork is so inspirational. Can you tell us more about your career?
Emily Eizen: There is a lot more that I do other than modeling and photography, such as set design, installations, and painting. I love combining all of these elements into my work and layering them together — mixing together painting, drawing, photography, graphic design, and set design makes my art unique and dynamic. I like all of them separately, but by layering them, that’s where the magic happens.
I pride myself on using my art for the greater good, to create opportunities and representation, especially in the cannabis industry. Also, I’m proud of my first experiential installation I created last October here in Los Angeles.
GO Mag: When did you discover your love for creating art?
Emily Eizen: I have always marched to the beat of my own drum, and found art as a creative and emotional outlet during my early years, around 6th grade. Since my peers bullied me, I ate lunch in the art room every day—this resulted in me becoming really close with my middle school art teacher. Art has always been an important part of my life.
GO Mag: How did you get involved in the cannabis industry, and when did it begin influencing your artwork?
Emily Eizen: Cannabis didn’t enter the picture until later on, and the consumption of this psychedelic sacred plant gave me the creative freedom and fearlessness to start creating again, helping me create social change through my art.
I also became involved with the cannabis industry when I moved home to Southern California after a short stint as a political science major at George Washington University in DC. I wanted to get involved in activism and politics, but the culture of college and Capitol Hill created a toxic environment for my creative, free-spirited personality.
When I was there, I used cannabis as medicine and that helped ease my feelings of isolation and reopened my mind to creativity—I had been stifling for a few years. Once I returned back home, I began budtending at all kinds of cannabis shops in LA, pre-recreational. Then, I had the chance to become social media and creative director for a dispensary in Santa Monica, and that really opened up a lot of doors for me in the industry.
GO: Tell us about a day in the life of Emily Eizen. How do you spend your days, from start to finish?
EE: Well, this has changed a lot since quarantine began. These days, I’ve been very focused on self-sufficiency and self-improvement, especially cooking. I like to start my days with stretching and breathing exercises because I have anxiety that manifests in the morning. I usually like making fresh fruit smoothies after cleaning my apartment. Then, I write out my schedule for the day, which normally consists of photoshoots, creative planning, and some kind of civic responsibility.
I have been active in engaging my hometown of Manhattan Beach’s City Council to hold them accountable for racism, police budgets, and political leanings. Also, I make it a goal to sign a few petitions every day, and donate when I can. Even though I’d rather be in the street protesting, the pandemic inspired me to be creative with remote forms of activism, including photoshoots with political messages
I spend time with my beautiful, smart, amazing partner, April, and we share most of our days together. When I have my responsibilities laid out, usually in the mid to late afternoon, I enjoy a sativa or hybrid joint, which really kick starts my motivation and creativity. At night, after cooking dinner, I smoke an indica joint and practice nighttime yoga and deep meditation.
GO: What cannabis products do you enjoy most?
EE: Even with all the fancy and new cannabis products on the market, I will always prefer good old-fashioned flower. I mostly smoke joints, or a blunt on special occasions. I also enjoy CBD and hemp products, edibles.
I love creating content for all kinds of brands and products, especially when I get to cast models who reflect the diversity I wish was more mainstream in the cannabis industry.
GO: What advice would you give your teenage followers who admire the hell out of you?
EE: Don’t give a f*ck what anyone thinks. I was bullied mercilessly in high school for expressing myself and being an outspoken feminist. If you are experiencing that, just know that high school is not your peak—you will go on to do amazing, fulfilling things after the hell that is our educational system. Your bullies ain’t sh*t!
While this advice might sound annoying, I didn’t start heavily using cannabis until after high school. I would definitely tell my younger followers to educate themselves on cannabis, but also hold off on THC while the brain is still rapidly developing, unless medically required. Oh, and if you’re 18, REGISTER TO VOTE!
GO: Tell us about your relationship!
EE: I am so lucky to be in an extremely stable and fulfilling relationship with April. We met working for the same dispensary—it’s truly a cannabis love story. She has taught me so much, and I learn every day from her responsibility, strength, and drive. She really pushes me to be my best self. We have been together for over two years, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her.
GO: What changes are you hoping are made in the cannabis space in 2020?
EE: There are so many things that need to happen in order for the cannabis industry to be better. First of all, we need to release everyone who is imprisoned for non-violent cannabis offenses—nothing will be considered fair until that happens. We need more diversity, more BIPOC in leadership and ownership positions. Once that happens, I think it will be easier for brands to showcase and highlight ALL cannabis users. That’s the main goal of what I do, creating representation and opportunities for other creatives and models in the industry.
GO: Three products you couldn’t live without?
EE: FENTY, FENTY, FENTY. I am obsessed with Fenty beauty and I could not live without their foundation, concealer, and mascara.