As one might expect for an artist who designs cannabis-themed products, Mio Kamstra-Brown said his inspiration comes from the plant itself.
“Bong hits are usually my go-to, with the occasional dab or joint,” Kamstra-Brown said. “If I have the particular strain available to me during the design process, that’s always a plus. It allows me to visually draw inspiration from the characteristics of the buds or extract, as well as the smell and flavor from the terpenes.”
Kamstra-Brown has been working with Santa Cruz-based Crème De Canna since early 2018. Formed in 2010, the lifestyle brand designs a variety of apparel for men and women.
“I love that I have the opportunity to implement the variety of skills I have to help build and grow the brand,” he said. “I enjoy being able to work on multiple types of projects from creating drone video showcasing our farm, to the individual strain designs, or getting up close with a macro lens for the trichome photos.”
Kamstra-Brown was born and raised in Santa Cruz, and has been involved in the cannabis industry for a little more than a decade. He got his start by photographing cannabis farms, and has evolved his work through a variety of positions including budtending, dispensary management, hydrocarbon extraction, silicone product design (Nail Crown from Cruz Culture), social media management, graphic design and website development, as well as branding and marketing.
“I wear a lot of hats,” he said.
Photography and design has been a lifelong interest of Kamstra-Brown’s.
“My interest in traditional graphic design and computer graphics really started in high school where I had my first hands-on training with professional equipment,” he recalled. “I worked as a tattoo artist shortly after high school, which helped develop a wider array of drawing techniques for myself. Two years after high school I went to college in Arizona and obtained my AA in Digital Media Production.”
Kamstra-Brown said his experience as a tattoo artist has complemented his artwork well, featuring “bold outlines and vibrant color.”
“My work, for obvious reasons, is all cannabis-related, but it fits perfect for me, because my personal art is primarily cannabis, aliens and sacred geometry,” he said. “I want my artwork to excite people. I think of when I would go into the skateboard shop as a kid and see the wall of skateboard decks with all the different artwork, and you notice that one that just pops and calls your name!”
On his designs:
“A lot of the designs start with an initial chat with the team about some ideas or visuals that we want to incorporate. The Cherry OG was the first strain design I did for Crème De Canna, and I wanted to showcase the juicy sweet characteristics of the buds into the design. They were big chunky sweet buds that had a strong cherry smell. The natural shape of the cherries inspired me to utilize them as the letters for ‘OG.’ I enjoy when aspects of a design can be implemented into the name of the strain. More recently I did a Banana OG design and took inspiration for the barrel of bananas from a favorite childhood game, Donkey Kong.”