Annie Van Gorkom of Ink & Annie Talks About Creativity, Design, Research, and More!
Annie van Gorkom is a cannabis-positive artist and designer who creates intricate illustrations featuring hand lettering, botanicals, and vintage themes. Her designs are used on products, packaging, and as brand logos through her boutique studio, Ink & Annie. She is a Midwest native recently transplanted to sunny Charleston, SC which gives her lots of new plants to draw and trails to explore with her husband and two kids.
We instantly fell in love with Annie’s work! From her beautiful blooming nature work to her bold and stylistic handwritten fonts. With a vintage vibe that still feels fresh, we are super excited to have some of her gorgeous work in the launch collection!
Annie has found that she has always been pulled to being a creator, as art had a way of following her through life, “I can’t think of a time in my life where I didn’t have some sort of creative hobby. I’ve tried jobs or majors in college that were not art-centered and they just ended with lots of Pinterest crafting binges to even it out haha. Eventually, I realized that creating is a part of who I am and it’s probably healthier to just pursue it.“
We are so happy that she did!
Annie workes across a variety of mediums throughout her process, but most things start with pen and paper, “...most all drawings start out as pen and paper sketches and are then drawn on my iPad in the Procreate app. From there they get finished off in whatever format is needed at the end which can vary whether it’s for a physical product or a logo or a mural.”
Annie was introduced to cannabis by her boyfriend (now husband) in her early twenties, “I don’t even think I did it right the first time honestly so I’m not sure it even counts. A few years later I got a more formal introduction from a family member and that’s when I started reading more about the benefits and history behind it and understanding that there’s more to it than what the D.A.R.E program taught us as kids.”
It wasn’t until Annie became more open about her own cannabis consumption, that she started to realize how many cannabis-positive people were in her own circle, “ I was surprised by how many people benefit from it in one way or another, but nobody can talk about it.”
While she has not faced stigma directly due to her consumption, it is something that she has to be aware of as an artist. “I’m definitely aware that it puts my artwork, and also potentially myself as an artist, into a niche that’s full of stigma. If I’m honest, it was a conscious decision that I had to make when I showed my first cannabis-centered piece, because I knew it would immediately alter my personal brand and who may or may not hire me because of it.”
For Annie, cannabis has been very beneficial when it comes to treating anxiety. “ It’s a bit of a balance because too much can make it worse, but when I can recognize that my thoughts are spiraling, cannabis helps me to step outside of those thoughts for a minute and organize them without launching right into a panic. It has also helped me kickstart another part of my design career because I’m able to relax and draw for fun again which has turned into print sales. I tend to ruminate on unhelpful thoughts and it kills creativity. Cannabis helps me to recognize the bad thought patterns as they’re happening and cut them off. Then my mind is free to wander and be creative.”
Something that we hear frequently is the misconception that there is only one type of cannabis consumer. Through legalization, Annie was able to get a first-hand view of how wrong this assumption is, “It’s just so far off base from the reality. I was living in Illinois when recreational cannabis was first legalized and there were only a few dispensaries open in the state, so there were a lot of people, but only access to a few places. It was crazy long lines, but it also gave me the chance to see the enormous range of people who benefit from cannabis. And that’s just the ones who are willing to publicly wait in line for it.”
Like many canna-preneurers, Annie started creating cannabis art because there wasn’t any that fit her taste at the time. “A lot of cannabis-related art seemed to fall into one or two categories, but that doesn’t fit all users. I wanted to create artwork for others like me where maybe cannabis is a part of their life, but not the whole of their life.”
When it comes to artistic style, more is usually more for Annie. “I create detailed illustrations often featuring florals and cannabis and hand-lettered type along with my other random interests. My art comes out in a vintage, hand-drawn style with limited colors. I enjoy creating things that sometimes need a second look to catch all the parts. With my cannabis-related pieces, I typically add those elements in a more subtle or hidden way. Not that I believe people should have to keep that part of their lives hidden, but I’m also aware that not everyone can or wants to be open about their usage yet, even in legal states. So I make cannabis art that includes those interests, but is also less likely to get you fired if it pops up in the back of a work Zoom call, ya know?”
The small details of the artistic process are also what keep Annie inspired, “For me, it’s less about one big inspiring moment and more about the little ones that keep me going. There’s a little creative brain jolt that comes from having a great idea of what to draw and then quickly scribbling it down on whatever is nearest before the idea is gone. It’s like a tiny high in itself.”
Annie has found benefits from cannabis when it comes to her artistic process, “ It’s great for brainstorming or working through a design problem for me because it helps to calm the background chatter in my mind. It helps me to stop worrying about other things and instead let my mind wander and think in nonlinear ways to make connections that I otherwise wouldn’t have.”
If you are just starting to experiment with creative play, with or without cannabis, Annie has the following advice, “For me personally, I’ve found it’s great for that first brain blast of an idea or to stay in a flow state while drawing, but decidedly less helpful when doing something like the backend file setup for printing. I also know how much will help and how much will make me want a nap. So I think it’s all about discovering in which areas it’s actually helpful to the process and also being honest about where it’s not.”
We are absolutely in love with the gorgeous designs Annie put together for the SoStonedCo 4/20 Launch Collection! “I’m so excited about how they turned out! I mixed hand-drawn black and white florals with cannabis leaves which paired perfectly with the SoStoned logo on a shirt. I used those same style flowers on a coffee mug with the hand-lettered phrase “cannabis & coffee” because that’s one of my favorite and most creative times of the day. Lastly, I incorporated some witchy vibes into a sticker sheet featuring 6 stickers with things like cannabis and crystals and severed hands (but in a pretty way haha).”
In the world of cannabis design, Annie is excited about the elevation and innovation when it comes to cannabis packaging. “In the past, cannabis packaging seemed to be either psychedelic or pharmaceutical. Normalization (in some states at least) has brought craft brands and smaller businesses with fresh ideas on how it can be so much more beautiful than that.”
As a designer, Annie is excited for the wave of legalization to continue for cannabis, “It’s so fun watching cannabis become legalized in various forms across the country and imagining what that means for it as an industry. I’m excited to watch it grow and see all the amazing designs that come out of new brands and products.”
When it comes to cannabis legalization, normalization, and policy Annie believes in a science forward approach. “I’m a strong believer in science and research and education. Everyone benefits from cannabis being researched. Just like with anything a person puts into their body, there are benefits and risks to consuming cannabis for each individual, but it’s so restricted that it’s unnecessarily difficult to research and get the answers. Without those researched answers, stereotypes persist and then ancient policies stay in place.”
When it comes to incorporating cannabis into her personal routine, Annie typically uses it to wind down at the end of the day, “ I typically use it at night to help wind down and sleep and then situationally during the day. The difference in just being able to just fall asleep without racing thoughts keeping me up has been incredible.”
Annie is currently living in a non-legal state so is very limited when it comes to consumption options. There is still so much change to be made to make sure that everyone who can benefit from cannabis has access to all of the tools they need to educate and consume in a way that is right for them. Prior to moving to South Carolina, Madison lived in Illinois, where recreational cannabis was legalized a year before her relocation. “We hardly got to try much variety, but I liked trying the different micro-dosed edibles while I had the chance. I appreciated being able to dose the way I wanted to.”
When she is not creating art for herself, you might find Annie doing branding work in the design and production world. “I can’t claim to be an expert at coding, but I know at least enough for the branding and web design projects I take on. Graphic design is what my degree is in so a lot of my work comes in a logo or branding project. My favorite part of freelance is that I can combine all these different things that I love, it’s not the same job every day. I love that I can mix traditional logos with cannabis drawings and since I work for myself, I can be open about it all. Not everyone has the luxury of being open about their usage.”
Annie loves the idea of bringing new concepts into the world, “My favorite is creating things that didn’t exist in this world before I made them. And then to see others connect with it and have my work mean something to them is just a bonus. I’ve mentioned that to other makers and it seems to be a common driving force for lots of us.”
As if you weren’t impressed enough, Annie is also quite the rock climber! “Between art and climbing, I’m thankfully in a lot of groups that are very accepting of cannabis! My husband and both my kids climb as well so it’s a family activity for us. I choose not to smoke while actually climbing, but it’s great for relaxing both mind and muscles once done. Climbing can sometimes pull weird muscles that you wouldn’t think to warm up beforehand so it’s nice to have a release from that.”
We love that Annie has also started working on a project restoring a retro wooden dollhouse, “It was in pretty rough shape. I’m (super slowly) working on giving it a makeover. The intention was to give it to my kids when done, but I’m getting kind of attached to it haha! Home renovation shows are my guilty pleasure so I’ve found that this mini-renovation combines that with my love of crafting. Plus I’ve always thought that tiny dollhouse stuff is just the freaking cutest. I guess my love of crazy detail spills out into everything!” We cannot wait to see it!
Annie is also working on updating her store and site! “I’m giving my old portfolio website a much-needed update to better reflect what I’m doing now. It will have updated projects and a store with more items. I’m hoping to have it ready in May.”
We love that Annie is a believer in diving in and just running with it! She shared some advice she would give to her younger self, “Start now. With whatever it is. I have a tendency to ruminate on potential problems and wait until things are perfectly lined up before beginning. The catch is that they never are and most things won’t make sense until after you’ve already done them anyway.”
Annie believes there is much that the world can learn from the cannabis community, “Besides all the benefits that come from the introduction of new industry such as jobs and tax money, I think today’s world can benefit from cannabis as another tool for creative thinking. So many people seem to think creativity is synonymous only with Creatives and art-making when in reality, new ideas and solutions are needed everywhere in our daily lives and jobs.”
It was so lovely getting to collaborate with Annie for the upcoming merchandise launch! She is not only a tremendously talented creative but just an altogether lovely human. Please stay tuned for the Merch Drop on 4/20 to purchase any of Annie’s beautiful designs! To learn more about Annie, follow her on Instagram @ink.and.annie, www.inkandannie.com, or on her Etsy Shop @InkandAnnieDesigns. Stay tuned for Annie’s new merchandise, such as apparel and stickers, on her new site once it launches in May. (She also available for freelance graphic design projects through her website.)