Designing Cannabis


As the laws are changing, the cannabis industry is expanding rapidly. The days of little zip lock bags are finally behind us.

With the industry’s rapid growth and expanding competition, brands are quickly realizing the urgent need to define their place in the market.

Working with brands all the way from concept design to digital advertising, Jeremy Parker sometimes finds himself getting down and dirty with custom hand-drawn pieces, even with the lofty title of Global Creative Director at his design firm, Bevel. It’s pretty safe to say that any cannabis company you’ve heard of has probably worked with him. ARTRPRNR asked him about how, exactly, he rose to the top of his game as a designer.

How did you get started as a designer?

I’ve been skateboarding my whole life, and been drawing just as long. The two always seemed to be intertwined for me, so when I moved to the mountains, it got a little cold to skate during the winter, so I bought myself a computer and started teaching myself graphic design.

After I felt like I had a handle on what I was doing, I started reaching out to companies I wanted to work for: skating, snowboarding, and surfing brands I was already obsessed with. Based on my experience, or really lack of, I got a lot of ‘no’s.’ Then Element Skateboards said they loved my art and wanted to give me a shot. And that’s how I got my first job.

What has been the most challenging moment of your career?

 

 

Making the leap from action sports to cannabis. When I started designing for the cannabis industry, it was like the wild west, there were no rules yet, and there weren’t a lot of established business processes. Adjusting to the atmosphere and different people wasn’t easy at first, but I’m so glad everything worked out.

Now, there are tons of regulations surrounding cannabis. It’s totally flipped. As far as my role in the industry goes; there’s rules pertaining to design, the amount of information on the packaging, and even the amount of assets we’re allowed to use. It’s a bit tough to get artistic sometimes.

What is the most exciting project you’re currently working on?

Right now, I’m really into the work I’m doing with Proving Ground, a facility in San Diego that grows. I’m honored to be working with them on packaging and other artwork, because they’re considered one of the best products on the market.

What’s been the proudest moment of your design career?

When weedmaps.com named me Global Creative Director. And the time I spent at Volcom was also really special to me: I started in the warehouse and worked my way all the way up to Global Creative Director. And even after I left they had me back as Global Art Director for some time.

I’ve consistently gone the unconventional route to things, and I’d say that’s really due to my creative abilities. I can adapt and design anything from A-Z, no matter what your needs are. I live in design, which is what has allowed me to be so good at it. When I see a truck drive by, I’m picking out the spacing between the letters, and I’m thinking about how I could have done it better. That’s what it takes to be successful as a designer: you have to constantly live in your creative mind.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

Speak your mind. Don’t let emotions get in the way of good design.

What do you love most about what you’re doing?

I get to work with my close friends on a brand new industry. It’s not everyday that a completely untapped and undefined market comes along, and I’m so excited that I get to be at the forefront of cannabis. As of now, I believe I’ve branded about 30 companies within the cannabis space, so I get to be at the beginning of brands that will become the Coca-Cola of the industry. That’s what I love most about what I do: being able to be at the beginning phases and push these companies toward success.

Is there something you do everyday that contributes to your success?

Complimenting others, for sure. Helping others feel their full potential, because my favorite part of what I do is helping others, and I’m so full of gratitude that I get to do that every day. Sharing that gratitude just comes naturally. I’m a pretty solid backbone for a lot of people, I can make people feel their words and help them with their careers, and all it takes is a few kind words.

Have you ever worked with social media influencers?

Yes, I’ve had some amazing results using influencer-based marketing. Working with the right influencer is key to having a symbiotic relationship with them. Ones that know how to engage with their audience, and are coming from an honest place of authenticity have always been really fun to work with. You can tell they get a lot of people excited because of their own excitement, and they make a lot of real connections with their followers.

What would you say to aspiring designers and artists that might be afraid to let go of their security?

 

First and foremost, the most important thing you can do is believe in yourself more than anyone else possibly can. You alone are your own voice, and you have to see the endless value in that. There will be people who try to sway you, but you can’t let them change what you believe in.

I went from reaching out to 50 companies and getting nothing in return, to having 50 companies begging to work with me, and that’s because I never gave up on myself. I never took criticism too hard. I learned how to adapt to all different clients, and still trust my gut. You won’t get it your first time, but you will eventually if you keep at it.

What book has had a big impact on your life?

Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn