At the present time, there are over 700 strains of weed out there. Imagine attempting to sit down and draw each and every one. While that sounds like a pipe dream, illustrator and brand developer Todd Pearl is setting out to do just that. After starting off with 24 individual designs for some of the most popular strains around the world, he is now proceeding with his quest to draw every strain known to humankind. Lucky for us, we had the opportunity to interview The Todd Man to hear more about this exciting journey to making what seems impossible possible.
Todd Pearl: A Todd Man on a mission
Todd Pearl is officially gearing up to draw every strain known to man after receiving the necessary funds from his project on Kickstarter.com. He’s already done 24, and 28 are in development. Only 700+ to go!
It all began late last summer when a friend of his asked him to help come up with a design for a popular strain called Girl Scout Cookies. After entering his own harvest into the 2016 Cannabis Cup in Clio, MI and receiving an honorable mention using Todd’s design, Todd has been inspired ever since.
So in 2016, The Todd Man took what started off as just an idea and decided to turn it into a reality by creating 24 custom designs for some of the world’s most popular strains, from Sour Diesel to Granddaddy Purple, just to name a few.
The inspiration behind the project
HERB: How did it all begin?
A friend who’s a medical marijuana patient that suffers from a very serious condition called Bechet’s syndrome, a rare and painful chronic disease. He came to me last summer because he wanted to enter a strain he grew into the Cannabis Cup competition here in the midwest. Since he knew of my artwork and my style, he asked me to design a label for his grow. And so I said ‘absolutely!’
Being an advocate for him, I designed this label for the strain Girl Scout Cookies and then shortly there after as we were talking the idea just came to my mind. We were talking about all the strains, and I thought ‘Wow, all these strains.’ It’s a neverending creative list of ideas because the names conjure up so many fun images, especially for my cartoons and fun style.
So I thought to myself ‘Let’s do a project that gives back,‘ and that was part of the inspiration to get it going really. With business being slow I said ‘Well, let’s do a Kickstarter project,’ and so I did the Kickstarter project, got funded, and now I’m riding that wave.
HERB: How much time each week do you set aside for drawing?
To complete a full strain, it takes I would say on average a week from start to finish. It also depends. I could do a mad power session and probably do one in a day.
I’ve got about 55 done in 6 months, so I’m on a good track right now. And it’s not about reaching the goal but about the path, of course, and who I’m meeting along the path and what’s occurring along the path.
For example, my strain design right now I’ve licensed the artwork to Curt Dalton at Cannabis.net. We have an arrangement where when you go to research a strain like Green Crack or Granddaddy Purple, the page will come up with the picture of the bud and all the detail about the strain and then there will be an inset of my artwork. I’ve got 10 of my strains up right now; then I’m going to get the remainder of my 25. And as soon as any others are done, they’ll go up on the site as well.”
HERB: Do you come up with design as he draws, or ahead of time?
I make a huge point to research each strain to see its origins, its country of origin, and the growers responsible for creating it. I try to incorporate some aspect of its personality and its origin into the design. First, I’ll just look at the name of the strain and see what it conjures up. It has to conjure up an image in my head to a certain degree.
On the other hand, what I’m also trying to do is to design the more popular strains that people know. I’m not just trying to draw funny pictures and come up with a funny name. I’m really trying to put the thought and process into the design. It can either be a suggestion from a friend or just my research. I find a certain strain and add some layers to it to make it interesting as far as its background and the name itself. As an example, for Larry OG, I did a character of Larry from The Three Stooges. I also just did an amazing Obama Kush where he’s wearing a Hawaiian shirt with hemp leaves on it.
Over the course of this project, I’ve gotten to know some of the top growers in the business, from Subcool to Jinx Proof to Kyle Kushman. The point I’m making is that I’m doing a somewhat tribute to these pioneers that are in the forefront of this industry. These guys are creating quality product and know about the product. I’m paying tribute to them by designing their specific strain that they created.
HERB: What’s your favorite strain and way to consume?
I am a medical marijuana patient. I suffer from a condition where marijuana is a better option than the drugs the doctors want to give me. It’s a slight neuropathy where I get these pins and needles. I’ve gone to see a neurologist, but all they want to do is give me a drug that makes me sleepy and makes it so that I don’t want to work.
I’ve always been an advocate and smoked recreationally, but now I’m learning more and more about the medicine. When Michigan became legal, I chose to have another option. My favorites are sativa-dominant strains, such as Jack Herer and Green Crack, because I need to work. Those are some that have a good overall body sensation and allow me to stay conscious and work.
HERB: Do you medicate before/while you draw?
I would say it’s directly connected. There’s a regular regime that I have working. You know, I’ll take a little puff, and I’m just at it, and I’ll work for several hours. And then if I feel like it, I’ll take another little puff. So I wouldn’t say that I abuse it, but I definitely use it. It definitely helps me focus.
Sometimes that can be good or bad. If you’re too focused on one thing, then you aren’t aware of other things. But certainly with drawing, I’m not driving, I’m just sitting at home. So if there’s any impairment, it’s not affecting anyone else but the drawing dad.
HERB: What cannabis brand would he most want to see using your art?
That’s where this is still evolving. So I’m taking on this project. I’m going to sell the product online and give 10% of retail sales back to medical marijuana advocacy and industrial hemp advocacy groups. That’s the game plan for my e-commerce site. So, that was kind of like the lead thing. I’m just going to draw and hopefully, that will self-generate and make money and keep a roof over my head.
In the meantime, the kind of projects I want to work for is just the kind, good-hearted people in the industry that need some branding. So I invite all growers out there in the United States and out there in weed land to get ahold of me. I am a seasoned brand development pro that designs logos. I know about branding, and I know about marketing, so I would love for a grower to come to me and go ‘Design my strain and design me some marketing.’
Here’s the thing, I want to help the little guy because as the industry does develop, the little guy is going to be pushed out of the picture. Yes, the top growers are going to survive and the guality growers are going to survive. But the little guy who is just trying to make a living might be affected by what’s about to occur in the industry. So, what I would love to do is help the little guy with their branding. If the product is good and I can be a part of their success, then I would love to do that.
24 down, 28 in development, 700+ more to go!
HERB: Where are you up to in terms of project completion?
Right now, completed and colorized and for sale in the sense of stickers and all that, I have 24 done. But I have an additional 28 that are fully in development that should be ready for a product in the next two months. So within those months, I will have over 55 designs completed. And over the course of that, I will still be designing new ones.
HERB: What do you love most about the cannabis industry?
I think it’s the progressive, forward, kind nature and fairness of it. There isn’t this distrust that’s sometimes prevalent in other businesses. I like the newness of it and the bravery of the people. I really like the bravery of the people because it’s still federally illegal. So that’s my favorite thing about it. The trusting aspect of it is a good way to put it.
HERB: After completing this project, what do you wish to accomplish next?
This will be going until I die. I’ll literally be drawing these until I die. In fact, my brother made a joke. He goes ‘Dude; you know when you die your obituary is going to say cannabis artist.’ I said ‘Hey, that’s not so bad!’
I’d love to do more personality strains because there is a Bill Maher strain and a Willie Nelson strain. I think that could be very fun doing those. Also, I want people to know how passionate I am and how much love I have doing this. I can say this without question; this is the most passionate, exciting project I’ve ever worked on in my life.
Head to StrainThese.com and check out the 18 x 24 poster that showcases his first 24 designs. And in the future, he will also use this site to sell his catalog of each strain design, which will include stickers, posters, apparel, laptop cases, and much more.
Also, Todd is considering a once-a-month design contest that will allow artists to submit their own designs. Once the community places their votes, the winner will receive a cash prize and have their art printed on a shirt and sold. So stay tuned.