Maker, Creative Consultant, Witchy Soul & Business Owner Kaluohs Talks Art, Making, Sobriety & More!
Kaluohs is a Creative Consultant in Orlando, FL with a hidden secret; a private art collective that offers studio rental space for creative ventures. With experience in a variety of arts, she’s a skilled painter and mandala-doodler. Her murals bring personal and commercial walls to life and you may even have spotted her in elaborate costume at a local convention. This world-traveling artistic sponge is best known for recycled mosaics, body painting live on Twitch, and collaborating with tons of artists on her YouTube Show; Faces of Kaluohs. We love her beautiful cross-medium creations and works, from her dynamic costume work to her gorgeous detail-rich patterned illustrations. We are thrilled that Kaluohs has collaborated with us on a few gorgeous pieces for the 4/20 Merch Launch!
Kaluohs was raised in the Midwest where it seemed like consuming cannabis was something a lot of young people did when she was growing up. “You went to a party and there would be pot and drinking. It wasn’t good, how I was first exposed to it, but it was definitely memorable. Even though I might have tried it a couple of times casually, I never really saw myself as a ‘pot smoker’ until I was older and already into college.”
Since that 1st introduction, Kalouhs has found that her thoughts on cannabis have shifted in major ways. “I was introduced to this substance like it was illicit and dirty. I remember hissing at my older brother, ‘old habits die hard, but young addicts die quick!’ (lol) Such a savage comment from a pre-teen. To be fair, he only smoked pot (to my knowledge) and it was the stigma that it was going to ruin his life that I was basing that off of. Now, I rely on cannabis for a lot of my personal healing so it seems pretty full circle in that regard.”
While her own thoughts on cannabis consumption have changed, Kalouhs has faced stigmas due to her own consumption. “ I know who I can say certain things around, and who may give a disapproving side-eye look at the mention of “marijuana” or “dope” as they’d probably call it, ha. They're all the usual stereotypes: the characters you see in movies. Everyone who smokes pot must just sit around doing nothing except smoking pot and it makes them lose their mind and burn out. There definitely are people who use the plant in this way, but it’s not how I chose to use it, so I don’t appreciate those labels or assumptions about my situation.” Amen!
Kalouhs has seen tremendous benefits when it comes to pain relief as a result of her cannabis consumption, “Cannabis products have benefited me greatly! I’ve really enjoyed the freedom that comes with having your medicinal marijuana card here in Florida. There are still hurdles (like the numerous steps to get and maintain the card), but I enjoy the information that the dispensaries provide along with the products. Half of these things I never thought of and each innovation helps something new. For example, I use cannabis to assist with some chronic arthritic pain and other pain caused by a martial arts injury. Now, I can try a lotion with THC to direct the healing at the spot. You can’t do that with something like opioids and even other medicated lotions are more addictive than cannabis products in general. Another perk is the fact that I don’t want to make cannabis oil to cook with so premade gummies are ideal for me when I don’t want to smoke or vape (how I’d prefer to always take my THC). All these products help with my mobility and general quality of life and I know it helps so many more with worse conditions than mine!”
A recurring stereotype that we hear mentioned, is one that all people who consume cannabis are the same. This is something that Kalouhs believes is one of the largest stigmas/misconceptions when it comes to how the cannabis community is viewed. ‘I think the main assumption is that ‘all stoners are the same.’ There isn’t one archetype of a ‘stoner’ (if we need to use that word). There are deep intellectuals who use it to dive deeper into their work or imagination. There are artists who use it to get into a ‘flow’ or focus mode to complete a masterpiece. Others use it just to break even and feel ‘normal’ because of social anxiety or PTSD. We all have different experiences that led us to this for medicinal or recreational purposes, so to assume we all view cannabis and life the same way is a bit narrow-minded.”
One of the aspects of Kaluohs’s story that we felt was very important to speak on, was her journey of sobriety, and what cannabis meant for that journey. “ This story was a perfect example of facing stigma for my preferred method of healthcare (with cannabis). I was getting deep into some unhealthy drinking habits (probably instigated by the toxic relationship I was in), but none of it was helping anything else. I decided to take some action for myself and went to AA with a friend. After a few weeks of sessions, it was time to get a sponsor. It was at this point that the woman who was referred to me launched into her view that I was ‘still an addict’ if I smoked weed through my recovery from alcoholism and that she’d ‘be a hypocrite’ if she were my sponsor - so I just did it alone. (3 years & counting, baby!)
I’m not mad at her viewpoint, but I knew there was no arguing with her. She felt strongly about her beliefs, but I felt just as strongly about mine: believing that my cannabis consumption wasn’t ‘replacing alcohol’ and that I was capable of being ‘a sober stoner’ if you will. That was a bit of a risky move, though, since I could have easily relapsed without that support, but I knew anyone else in that organization would likely feel the same. “ So proud of you girl!
Kaluohs had the following words of advice and support for anyone going through a similar situation. “I think you have to think of cannabis like any other medicine (if you’re getting stigma for using it in this way). People may have their comments about it, but they’re not dealing with your pain and they don’t understand your benefit. You need to make decisions that are right for your body after consulting with your physician. If you’re getting flack for using it recreationally, I say just do you. Once again, people don’t know your life and you could be doing any number of nefarious things and if you choose to be a good person, contribute to society, and just smoke some j’s when you please - so be it.”
When it comes to art, Kalouhs is reaching an exciting point where art is taking the wheel when it comes to her career and project paths! “I don’t even think I ‘chose’ this as a career anymore. I think my life just suddenly became what I needed it to be. I kept going back and forth between teaching and working in offices (administrative, HR, all the intense stuff, ha), but nothing really gripped me like art. I was raised with a very creative stay-at-home dad and my uncle/godfather was a talented Graphic Designer for the San Francisco Chronicle when I was a child. Between the two of them, I was armed with an arsenal of creative confidence that would make me unstoppable as a mixed media artist. In contrast, my mother was in the corporate world and I knew that degrees and your work ethic would end up being just as valuable, even if I was following creative ventures.”
Cannabis does provide some benefits for Kalouhs when it comes to creativity, but it is all about balance and honesty. “Initially, I enjoy a hybrid to get me focused. Too much and I’m jittery (why I can’t often handle a straight Sativa). But, in contrast, an indica could knock me out and make me too sluggish to create. Those strains are great for when my muscles are in spasms and I need to chill, but they make creating feel like a hurdle rather than adding to it. People (should) have similar boundaries with alcohol. I remember my mom used to have a ‘two beer limit’ when we’d go out because that’s how much she liked to drink before it became too much. When we know limits, we practice discipline staying within them. That’s rewarding to me and inspired me to think, Maybe I can do that pretty hard thing, too.”
For Kalouhs the more mediums the merrier, “I’m a mixed medium artist. I also call myself a ‘Jill of all Trades,’ which I always thought summarized me well. I also tie this into my logo which is my name, KALUOHS, with the K made from a paintbrush. That’s where it all starts. Paint and the brush. From bodies to canvas and walls, I paint it all and then some. People know this and just approach me with creative projects. ‘Want to paint some boxing gloves?’ Sure. ‘Hey can you make me a clip with this team’s logo for my beard?’ Yup. I love it! But, I can’t always be ‘the artist who will do anything,’ so setting boundaries and getting better at pricing my work honestly has been my latest focus.”
Kalouhs ran us through an impressive list of some of the mediums she enjoys working with, “Special effects makeup (mostly latex, fake blood, Mehron bruise wheel, etc.), bodypainting (more Mehron and some Krylon paints), cosplay/costumes (fabric, foam, found/repurposed items, LOTS of hot glue and paint), and digital art (like what you see here with the So Stoned CO collaboration pieces) which were made in Photoshop on my Microsoft Surface Pro. It’s getting pretty old now and I’m dreading getting a new tool for my art. It’s like a worn-in baseball glove, I want to use it until it falls apart in my fingers. I already have a screen display issue and the pen and keyword are all busted up, but I love her and it’s not worth the trade-in because it’s another long-term investment to create these pieces and with it a new tool. If I get an iPad, I’d learn Procreate, but staying on a laptop may force me to learn Illustrator, which I should do anyway. All this to say; you need to keep pushing your craft and find what’s next. Don’t stay complacent, that’s when you lose it.”
When it comes to inspirational moments, Kaluohs has had quite a few! She spoke with us about a period of her life when she was living in Miami. “I think that I had a really inspiring time living in Miami as an artist. I was making intricate recycled mosaics and I showed them in a number of gallery shows including Art Basel and the private collection of the President of Florida International University. It felt like I was flying. I was networking with incredible people, being inspired by every Wynwood wall and drug trip (ssh). I was living the life, but I knew I couldn’t stay there, but I never lost that energy, and I keep that with me in every mandala - it has the intricacies of the mosaics but requires less construction, ha. “
We are also big fans of her show Faces of Kaluohs, which Kalouhs has also been producing for 2 seasons, but is making a pivot due to demand and need with all the changes 2020/21 brought us. “Well, the production has been slow if not completely stopped lately because the production is essentially 100% me at the moment. I’ve had a number of temporary collaborators who really helped me with filming in the early seasons, but the vision for Season 3 was to be the quarantine edition: people filming their own videos and sending them to me to make a ‘socially distanced episode,; but it didn’t seem to take off. While I LOVE my show and what it stands for, it’s not for everyone and it’s not the only way I can share those same values. ArtHaus615 in particular, my latest project building a private art collective space offering creative space for rent accomplishes the same mission to create a network of artists who inspire one another and share ideas and/or resources.”
What is ArtHaus615? It is, in her own words, a movement. “Named to play on my German/Czech roots, I wanted it to feel like a creative hostel (without people staying overnight). When I was younger, I participated in a lot of Couchsurfing, and people from all over the world stayed with me! The idea was simple; no one charged for the mattress or couch, but there was an exchange. Maybe someone taught a language or a recipe, or someone else acted as an expert tour guide. There was richness because of the people coming together in that way.
ArtHaus615 (often just called ArtHaus or AH615) should feel like a stepping stone for artists who are just hobbyists but they want to get more serious about their craft. Performers can host small events here (private, not open to the public). We’ve live-streamed concerts to show examples of what can go on here and just next week I have a model coming in for live figure sketching for private commissions. It’s exciting and I’ve never seen anything like it before on this scale.
Are you a body painter who wants to meet a model somewhere safe that’s not your house or a hotel? Renting a private art studio with an attached private bathroom with a shower makes a world of difference to sound credible to your models. This has a ripple effect and the best outcome is just more amazing art! How could I not want to help that along!?”
For people just starting to dive into getting creative with cannabis, Kaluohs had the following words of advice. “I would take it clinically (even if you’re in a state where you can use it recreationally). The last time I went to the dispensary, I was given a ‘Cannabis Journal’ that sweetly had printed across it, ‘Cannabis with Confidence.’ It was the cutest thing and the pages inside were designed to track your journey. How did you feel? When did it ‘kick in?’ Those simple prompts can help you form an opinion about the sensation rather than just “getting high” and wondering if it helped or hindered your art. I would also suggest creating the same pieces when you haven’t smoked or taken any other form of THC. You don’t want to get into the habit of thinking you can ONLY create when you have it because then the lack of it (as a wonderful friend of mine calls ‘dankrupt’) will become an easy excuse for not being creative at all. Also, and this is a big one, do NOT feel pressure to enjoy it. I do. It helps me, but sometimes I don’t and I wake up kind of groggy and meh, so don’t feel like you need to enjoy cannabis just because there’s a new movement of experimentation with it. You should make the decisions that are right for you.”
We are super excited about the three beautiful designs Kalouhs put together for the 4/20 Merch Launch! She took a deeper dive into the three pieces. The first piece (Neon Zen) I did was a fun one. It was bright, graphic, tattooed; a lot like a self-portrait of my relationship with cannabis. She’s calm, intriguing, and not looking at you. Meaning, I’m over here on my journey and if you want, come hit this joint, ha! It comes in two color variations because I couldn’t pick a favorite. The flash on her is also reminiscent of face painting designs I used to do when I was younger. Now, it looks like my number of tattoos.
The second piece (Pot Nouveau) has to, admittedly, be my favorite. I know you shouldn’t play favorites, I just completely fell in love while making this piece. I have always admired that style of art but I’d never tried it myself. With this collaboration in mind, I knew it was the perfect opportunity. Now, seeing it on the merch, it makes it feel real and I’m amazed to see it come to life.
The final piece (Flowering Mandala) I created was another mandala and it definitely took a number of turns. It didn’t follow the original design I had planned for it and I took it to a few people for their advice before landing on the final product and I can tell you it’s not the color scheme I had in mind! This piece made me happy because I didn’t give up on it and I didn’t settle for something I didn’t love. By the end, I found something I didn’t know I’d love, and that, I believe, is the point of art.”
They are all so unique and gorgeous we are so excited to have Kalouhs teaming up with us for this launch.
When it comes to inspirations in the art and cannabis communities, Kalouhs is motivated by individual expression and ingenuity, and innovation towards making the world better. ‘Oh, don’t put me on blast! I’m terrible with names and I’ve never been a big ‘idolizer.’ My dad had a TON of role models and icons and people he’d make larger than life at times, but I never really felt that way about powerful people. Whenever I saw someone succeeding I just thought, ‘perfect, so it’s doable, let’s go.’
However, that’s not to say that no one inspired my art (like my dad and uncle getting me excited about art from a young age). There are also revolutionary artists who paved the way for the type of individualized expression that we have today. Recently, I’ve been diving deeper into classical art history and really appreciating how far art has come; it’s pretty remarkable! I think my favorite thing to see is just passionate people. It can get complicated when it goes to extremes (we know this), but to show that you give a damn about something and you want to create something beautiful or a piece that seeks to make the world a better place, or you just wanted to make something silly or simple for the sheer fact that it felt good to do so… that’s what inspires me, whether it’s a 3-year-old scribbling or a master painter whose works look like photographs.”
You may have been wondering if you were pronouncing Kalouhs ‘correctly’ as you have been reading through. You aren’t alone! We asked Kaluohs what the name meant to her, “ Ha! ‘What does it mean to me’ is very different from asking what it is. People get confused by the spelling and pronunciation of it. Well, fear not; it’s a made-up word, so you can’t mess it up. The word is just my last name spelled backward because I liked to joke that ‘this art was the opposite of what my family wanted me to do’ (more stigmas).
What it means to me is deeper, though. KALUOHS is also how I refer to myself. ‘I am Kaluohs.’ It’s like my name, but it’s not really just a person, it’s the creative force that allows me to be this person, create these things, and bring people together. It’s an alias, a superhero costume like batman that allows me to create endlessly.”
It is part of this drive to create endlessly that makes creating so fulfilling for Kaluohs. “Making something implies skill. I know they don’t always go hand in hand, but you still needed to make something that wasn’t there before. It could be knitting string into a piece of fabric, constructing wood into a shape, or building. There is so much art and creativity involved in making things, it makes me feel like I had more power than I expected. Bringing a character to life, completing an intricate illusion or genderbend body paint; it’s thrilling! People ask if I’m sad when I need to wash the makeup or body paint off, but I always know there will be more.”
When it comes to what’s next, it was no surprise to us that Kaluohs has lots of things coming up. “I have a few really exciting creative things in the works right now. I’m making an elaborate Strawberry Steampunk costume complete with a large hoop skirt and towering headpiece. I also have a lot going on at ArtHaus from people renting the private studios to another live stream concert we’re going to be hosting on May 22nd. If you want to know more, you can just go to my website, KALUOHS.com, and learn more or contact me through there. Lots of portfolio examples on there, too!”
When it comes to the future of cannabis, Kaluohs is excited by the changes in the right direction. “I love that we’re having more open discussions about cannabis and art especially. Since cannabis is something that’s so helpful to the artistic process, it’s important to not keep the guilt and shame that’s been associated with it for so long. I know that I would have previously felt a lot more nervous putting ‘pot art’ on my Instagram because then people would think I was ‘always high’ rather than knowing there’s a time and place for that as a muse and a subject. This So Stoned Co collaboration was the absolute perfect apex of these two worlds. Let’s show them that we’re here in the most beautiful way possible!” We love that!
She is also incredibly excited for the decriminalization of cannabis, “If it hasn’t been clear: the decriminalization of cannabis is going to be huge. I still think more states have work to do getting to at least medicinal levels of access, but that’s for their voters to decide. I’m thankful to be in a state where I’m eligible and it’s relatively easy to come by. I know other people in other states where they risk their record to get what I can get openly. It makes it feel like one way is ‘clean’ and one way is ‘dirty,’ but it’s all the same product, so let’s start there. Maybe it’s dirty because of how it has to exist based on outdated laws. If humans can handle alcohol, they can handle pot just fine.”
Kaluohs is also very excited about innovations to come in the art sector. “I have no idea what the future of art is, and that’s exactly what excites me about it. If I know about it, it’s old news and people will continue to find ways to evolve and develop their skills or their imaginative ways of putting colors and shapes together. The fact that art can change (and has changed) so much makes it thrilling to imagine what the “next new thing” is. VR definitely helps with that. I was able to use a program where I could create 3D structures with light sticks in my hands and that felt like the most futuristic art experience ever. Let’s do more of that!”
For Kalouhs, cannabis consumption is a big part of a pain management routine. “My daily relationship with cannabis varies since I primarily use it for pain management. It’s actually usually a good day if I can use it as little as possible, but with a few messed-up back discs and TMJ in my jaw, I’m using it a decent amount to cope with spasms and shooting pain. I will say that a number of the articles on the So Stoned Co website have inspired me to incorporate it into other centering rituals like yoga or cooking so I’m not only using it as a crutch but working it into my routine for complete self-care...I tend to do the best with hybrids across the board. Sativas can be hit or miss for my personality and temperament and a strong indica can really wipe my motivation, so I like to stay right in the middle of them while I’m being productive until I can unplug and enjoy the effects with a good bubble.”
When it comes to products, she prefers vaping or consuming via an edible. “I’m really looking forward to trying the THC lotion and the pre-rolled joints. I also have the tincture liquid which is actually kind of fun because I can make a mocktail and put it in there to feel like I’m having a cocktail with my partner. Besides that, I haven’t gotten pure flower in a while since I've been trying to smoke less overall after quitting smoking cigarettes about a year ago.”
Another thing that we love is that Kaluohs is working on creating accessibility and education for the community, with some of her local dispensaries, “I’m really proud of the level of activism in Florida overall, but it’s hard to know the best organizations to work for. I love staying up-to-date about what’s going on in local politics, what bills cover which cannabis-related subjects, and how we can get involved. Lately, it’s been focused on a “THC cap” that could get passed in the Florida legislature creating a ‘cap; on the percentage of THC that’s allowed in the products, which would make them ridiculously ineffective compared to the levels that are allowed today. These are the types of campaigns that I follow closely and I hope to do even more in the future.”
We are so excited and proud that Kaluohs is truly manifesting her dreams through ArtHaus and her creative work. “I genuinely think that ArtHaus is the manifestation of my dream collaboration. It’s the ability to work with so many artists and connect it to other things like other collaborations and people who don’t know where to start when it comes to a creative project. I know I use the term ‘Creative Consultant’ to describe myself, but I think that “Creative Concierge” works just as well. When someone comes to me with a project idea, if I can’t or don’t have the skills to do it, I can refer them to a number of people who may be able to work on it. That’s the goal.”
We love everything about Kalouhs, she is a multifaceted creative business queen and we can’t wait to see what’s next from this amazing maker and creator. Stay tuned to see Kaluohs beautiful work in the StoStonedCo 4/20 Merch Launch! Follow her Instagram @Kaluohs & @arthaus615 to stay up to date and learn more at KALUOHS.com.