April! A month of rain showers, increasing temperatures, budding trees and… budding cannabis? This month, Motif features articles focused on marijuana, pot, Mary Jane, the devil’s lettuce or whatever you feel inclined to call it. And this month’s cover artist Walker Mettling provides us with imagery that does not shy away from the subject.
“There’s something about PVD that forces you into art,” Mettler recalls realizing when he landed in PVD in 2008. Now, he finds himself mainly as a teaching artist working with the PVD Comics Consortium, a school where he conducts free workshops with kids and publishes their comics alongside adult cartoonists from around the world. He is also currently working on a series of “historical postcard plus monster” screen prints.
For this issue’s cover, Mettling drew inspiration from his own screen print series, but also other artists he came across. “There’s a 19th century plant illustrator called [Walter Otto] Müller who I kinda riffed off of his drawing of marijauana plants,” said Mettling. “I was just mashing them up.”
Mettling sought to use the themes of RI and cannabis, and “visually overlap them in a fun way.” Ultimately he chose to let the juxtaposition speak for itself, rendering the image of the cannabis monster and the RI State House. It would be difficult to imagine a giant cannabis monster taking over the RI State House, yet for some, Mettling’s cover art may evoke a more potent message.
“A lot of my process is based on improvising on my own or with other people” said Mettling. “Part of the process is surprising myself along the way.” For this piece, Mettling’s process turned “into a game” as he toyed with the contrasting elements of RI’s state government and Cannabis Month.
When asked if he was hoping for a particular reaction, especially in a state where cannabis is not yet recreationally legal, the artist responded “I did not consider that at all.” Though he had no intention of a specific effect, Mettling’s work not only surprised him, but may surprise you, too.