Because I was a kindergarten and first grade teacher for years, I haven’t been surprised by the trend of adult coloring books. On my most stressful days, I’d sit down with the kids and lose myself filling in geometric patterns or snaking floral borders. But never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the vision of adult coloring perfection that is The Stoner Babes Coloring Book by Katie Guinn.
Set to be released in September from Microcosm Publishing, Stoner Babes is a gorgeous, exuberant, dynamic celebration of the diversity of women and gender fluid people and our many, beautiful relationships with cannabis. It’s a political statement, the reclaiming of a word, through art. It’s also a story, told through magnificent images, that asks us to reexamine our preconceptions and open our minds to new ways of being in the world.
We were lucky to get our hands on an advance copy of The Stoner Babes Coloring Book and even luckier to have the chance to hear from its creator about inspiration, art, resistance, and parenting.
Stoner Babes Inspiration
Jenn Lauder: Where did the inspiration for The Stoner Babes Coloring Book come from?
Katie Guinn: While researching agents for my children’s book, I came across a call for adult coloring book pitches. I immediately visualized a book filled with women who smoked pot. It just came to me! I imagined all the women I knew who partake, and then I pictured an entire BOOK of these women, REAL humans I could draw, surrounded by all the beauty I see inside and around them as individuals. I ended up researching feminist adult coloring books, (further research showed the calling agents weren’t a right fit) and found The Post Structuralist Vulva Coloring Book from Microcosm publishing. Once I had 5 sample illustrations, I pitched it to them. AND THEN, I discovered they are my neighbors in North Portland!
Reclaiming the Word
JL: What does the word ‘stoner’ mean for you?
KG: When I was in high school, I was a super stoner, in that I smoked A LOT of marijuana. Eventually it got to the point where I stopped because it was beginning to take over my psyche in negative ways. Before that though, we were friends and weed helped me when I painted, wrote, walked in nature and had deep conversations with friends, but most importantly, it magically helped me understand algebra! Holy shit, I am not joking.
I choose to resist the inequalities and inequities that are so prominent in our culture. Art is my best tool…
For me now, as I attempt to reclaim the word, it represents those of us who are many things except normal. I function quite well within the world sans marijuana, but sometimes it just sounds nice to take a deep breath and feel the world around me in new ways that bring me peace. It’s different for everyone, so I would never attempt to speak for all, but for many, it saves us.
I enjoy it sometimes, but not always: when I make art, draft apparel patterns (because-math) and garden. It tackles my serious crampage and anxiety.
Telling Stories Through Visual Art
JL: I noticed that your background is in art and design – in what ways is this project similar to and in what ways is it a departure from your other creative work?
KG: I was born a visual artist and have always been extremely passionate about drawing and painting and studying art and artists. I love to draw very detailed pieces and paint in oil. I also love to render humans, especially the feminine aspect of being human. This project/collection of illustrations very much aligns with my aesthetic in that I had the ultimate opportunity to render the likeness of MANY women I admire.
This is the ultimate collaboration, pulling from others to create art, and then to invite even more people to finish in various individual ways. The outcome is endless in my eyes and that is so damn beautiful.
I have a degree in apparel design and have practiced that career since before I graduated in 2011, just after having my blood daughter. As an independent designer, I create custom garments and ready to wear clothing, which includes shirts with my art on them. One of the originals is Stoner Babes.
I’m quite multi-focused in the arts. I’ve done graphic design, spent some time writing for The Portland Mercury where I focused on featuring local creatives here, and I love photography. I develop soft goods for a local company, Hovden Formal Farmwear and I love that job so much! The owner of the company is a mother of two and she’s a dream to work for. I also work at the Portland Apparel Lab, where I’m a shop steward. This is where I mainly do all my apparel production now. The owner, our mother hen, is a spectacular woman.
I’ve miraculously managed to surround myself professionally with bad ass women.
This collection of illustrations most genuinely represents who I am as an artist in that I don’t create just for myself, but rather want to connect and support and have a love fest with other women. I crave to help tell stories through visual art.
Making Art is Political
JL: This coloring book feels in some ways like a statement of intersectional feminist resistance. Is it intentionally political?
KG: I believe that every move I make is political at this point. Being a feminist is political, making art is political.
Our culture has made us political because so much of what should just be, has to be fought very hard for.
I choose to resist the inequalities and inequities that are so prominent in our culture. Art is my best tool to bring not just my perspective, but many others’ out in to the world.
I am sometimes a contrary human because I spend so much time contemplating everyone’s point of view. Our society, how we exist, is so very layered, and I believe that if we all can spend a little more time listening and absorbing each others’ stories, we will excel as a culture in lieu of what is the reality now, which is resistance.
I believe if we are open with our kids and talk with them instead of just TELL them things, they will be so much healthier, stronger and empowered.
If we choose to only hear a portion of stories that simply align with our ideals, we’ll continue to decline. I acknowledge my privilege, and attempt to change others’ point of views by bringing before them the BEAUTY of the humans who have so much to share, and so much love to give, so much grievance to express. We are all works of art! If we listen to one another more instead of projecting our pre-existing ideals and judgments onto one another, we will find happiness, peace and justice together.
JL: What do you hope this work does in the world?
KG: I absolutely want this coloring book to get in the hands of those who guffaw when they see the title and assume what they think it is, and I hope those people are empowered by looking through the pages, getting to know a little about these people. I hope it changes some minds about what it means to listen to other humans’ stories that appear to be so unlike ourselves.
Pot and Parenting
JL: Can you talk a bit about the intersection of creativity, cannabis, and motherhood (or any two of those)?
KG: As a mother, I am very protective of what is projected about me in connection to cannabis.
I’m highly aware that some will choose to judge me (unfairly) harshly, and assume things about me they don’t know. Part of the responsibility of this project is to be open about it. That doesn’t mean I have to answer every personal question asked, but I do welcome questions. I see myself as a responsible cannabis parent. Currently I don’t smoke in front of her, and that doesn’t mean I’m never high when she’s around, but mostly not. I grew up seeing adults smoke around me and it didn’t mess me up. I feel like secrets are more messy, while also realizing that’s not so simple for everyone.
I talk continuously about the effects of marijuana with my child. I explain how and why it’s unsafe for children. I have explained to her what this project represents and the importance of the people on the pages. I believe if we are open with our kids and talk with them instead of just TELL them things, they will be so much healthier, stronger and empowered.
The Stoner Babes Coloring Book will be released in September and is now available for preorder through Microcosm Publishing. And – great news! – SPLIMM is giving away a copy! Check here for details on how you can enter to win!