Meet our 4/20 T-shirt Design Contest Winner Tory Elena

Congratulations to Tory Elena, our winner of the Sespe Creek Collective 4/20 Limited Edition T-shirt Design contest. We had a chance to catch up with Tory and learn about her artistry and appreciation for Sespe Creek Collective and medicinal cannabis.

Q. What is your background in art?

I consider myself more of an illustrator/painter than a graphic designer. I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. I’d disappear into my room or back yard as a kid and make art for hours. When I was little, I just liked the feeling of getting totally lost in my imagination. I continued to explore that meditative process until it became a large part of my daily life.

I’m primarily self-taught. I quit college after a year and decided to rent an art studio in this epic old brick building in the SE industrial side of Portland, OR. I made a promise to myself to show up daily. I’d clock in the hours, and experiment, discover and teach myself new skills and techniques. My career grew as I just explored what was interesting to me, diving further into not only graphic design and illustration but linocut/printmaking, sculpture, and murals.

Being a musician (drummer/singer/producer and half of the band Sea at Last), I’ve always loved the cross-section of visual art and music. Since I was a kid I’ve had an obsession with vinyl record covers and hand-drawn tour posters from the ’60s/’70s era.

Bands started to hire me to make posters and album covers and things grew pretty organically and rapidly from there. I’m grateful I have such awesome clients and always have a variety of fun and exciting projects in the works.

Q. What motivated you to enter this contest?

Due to the lockdown, I had some openings in my schedule and thought it would be a fun challenge and opportunity to make something to give back to the community and support a good cause.

Q. What or where did you pull inspiration from to create this winning design?

It’s always hard to pinpoint the inspiration. I usually get a feeling of how the completed piece should look and then have to work backward from there. I am a big fan of Art Nouveau/Deco styles, something about the composition of ornate shapes is really visually pleasing and familiar to me. Ultimately, I just try to make something I would want to wear myself.

Q. What message do you hope your design conveys to people?

For this design, I wanted to make something that conveyed a healing, inspired and free feeling. Open hands and rivers make me feel that way.

Q. What is your familiarity with Sespe Creek Collective?

I’ve known about the dispensary for a while, however, my first time coming into Sespe was the beginning of 2019 when I found myself dealing with some serious health issues. I went to many doctors throughout the year, ended up having surgery last fall and was diagnosed with some chronic conditions that I am learning to manage day by day.

Q. Are you a customer/patient? If so, what are your favorite products? How has Sespe Creek and/or its vendors helped you personally?

My pain often reaches debilitating and incapacitating levels and I need relief daily in order to function. I use natural medicine whenever possible and so I started to look more into Cannabis. I’ve had some really challenging experiences with doctors not taking my pain seriously and it’s been a super frustrating process. I have seen firsthand how our healthcare system is really failing patients with chronic pain, especially women and POC.

My first time in Sespe Creek Collective was like a breath of fresh air! The staff was incredibly attentive and patient with me while I asked a million questions. They spent a lot of time helping me find a wide variety of things to use for my pain relief. It’s just such a different experience when you’re in a caring environment like that.

Some of my Go-To Products:

KinSlips – I love this company! Their sublingual tabs are easy to throw in your purse or bag, I especially like the “Park Life” and “Cloud Buster” while I’m in the studio mixing or recording music.

Chemistry’s Sweet Retreat THCA Tincture — Using this with a few drops of Care By Design’s 1:1 Tincture is my sweet spot! It helps relieve my pain, but also keeps my mind clear and focused while I’m working.

Shivani’s Cramp Ease Suppositories — These help with my intense pelvic floor muscle spasms, pain from IC (Interstitial Cystitis) and menstrual cramps. (Ladies absolutely worth a try!)

Camino Sparkling Pear Gummies — These are just a really lovely, gentle lift up – especially for hiking or playing in the sun outdoors!

Pacific Stone CBD Pre-rolls – I’m not a big smoker of the flower. However, I find these to be really mellow and great for immediate relief.

Mary’s Medicals Transdermal Compound 1:1 – After my surgery, I used this salve a lot to help my internal wounds heal. I don’t go anywhere without this stuff!

Q. What does 4/20 mean to you?

To me, 4/20 is a beautiful time to celebrate the gift of this magical plant! It’s a day to be grateful for those that fought for legalization, so patients have access to this medicine. (Which is absolutely crucial for someone like me with chronic pain!)

It’s a great time to take the opportunity to educate yourself on the true legacy of cannabis, which has roots in ancient history and long been connected with our country’s institutionalized racism.

It’s a day to be with friends at the beach or a backyard pool party (virtually, now given the current situation!), where lots of early rocksteady/dub reggae/Studio One classics are spinning all day long!

Q. Sespe Creek hopes to give back by donating proceeds from the sale of this winning t-shirt design to our pot lifer program. What are your thoughts on this program and what is your personal message to other Sespe Creek Collective fans/customers regarding giving back to the community, particularly during this trying pandemic?

I think giving back is a necessary step in being a responsible business during this time of the “Green Rush”. I commend you guys for walking the walk with your Pot Lifer Program and fundraising efforts for the Pot Fairy and Michael Pelletier! People are making money off of something that others are serving life sentences for, which is an absurd oxymoron. I believe it is wrong to have people serving life sentences in prison without the possibility of parole for a non-violent cannabis offense.

This twitter post I came across pretty much sums it up:

“When the dispensary looks and operates like an Apple Store, it’s time to release a lot of incarcerated human beings.”

When we are thrust into a time of uncertainty, I think it’s important for people facing immense emotional/financial/existential challenges, especially artists – to continue to find ways to express themselves. And most importantly just check in with what brings them joy. Humans alive today haven’t really faced a situation like this before, so I think processing this is going to look different for everyone. One major lesson my chronic illness has taught me is to surrender to the process and learn to value myself regardless of what I DO. I think a lot of people are starting to examine how closely their identity and self-worth is tied to their productivity and the “doing” self. Cannabis has been a great tool in helping me just BE in the present moment. It has provided me with not only incredible pain relief but a deeper emotional and spiritual connection to myself and the world. It calms my mind and helps me slow down and release anxiety, which in such chaotic times as these… is a valuable tool!

Q. What else would you like people to know about you? Your passion for design, cannabis, Sespe Creek, etc.

I’m excited to dive deeper into my musical projects this year. My band Sea at Last, has been taking a bit of a break with live shows/touring since my health conditions, but we are back in the studio mixing now. I am also slowly chipping away at my back catalog of 40+ songs I’ve written over the past couple of years and working to produce an album for my first self-titled solo project.

I’ve been working on a pretty extensive painting commission for a few years as well; creating 33 paintings for an essential oil card deck in collaboration with Tiffany Carole and the Healing Oil Collective project. We are aiming to launch sometime in the fall.

You can keep updated on my art and music projects through www.toryelena.com

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