All images courtesy of TROG and Northlight Books
Melbourne, Australia-based psychedelic artist TROG art has created poster art for a range of well-known bands, including The Offspring, Slightly Stoopid, Sly and the Family Stone, (həd) p.e., and many more over the course of his impressive illustration career. He now counts Tommy Chong as a personal fan. On top of drawing, there's nothing that TROG loves more than marijuana, as evident in his devoted participation with Hemp Fest, Hash Bash, and many other cannabis events.
TROG’s work is heavily inspired by the drug-friendly underground “comix” scene of the ‘60s and '70s, and his latest endeavor encourages others to embrace his sensibility for irreverent, surreal imagery. Titled The Killer Weed Coloring Book: For Marijuana Lovers (out May 1st through Northlight Books), the project is a coloring book specifically tailored for adult stoners. On top of the 125-page coloring book, the artist is releasing The TROG 420 Pullout Poster Book this month, as well. In celebration of the popular talent’s impending books, MERRY JANE caught up TROG to why adults like to doodle and his love of cannabis.
MERRY JANE: You've published books before, such as The Cooked Book. How did that prepared your latest release?
TROG: I'd say it kind of prepared me, however, The Cooked Book was a self-published title, and The Killer Weed Coloring Book is due for release through Northlight Books, which is an imprint of F+W Media. F+W Media have been around since 1914 so they are very established worldwide. I had a plan that 2017 would be the year I started to take my books more serious and work towards releasing a selection of them. The Killer Weed Coloring Book just blew up overnight and it hasn't even started to circulate yet. We're talking some of the largest book chains in USA, Canada, Australia, so that's a whole new level. I've had cannabis magazines from all over the world hit me up wanting information on The Killer Weed Coloring Book and have just watched it snowball with regards to requests.
Are adults using coloring books now to relieve stress?
I've been told they are doing that, and that would probably explain why I'm such a chill person. I've been coloring for over 20 years nonstop! There has been a real demand for adult coloring books over the past few years. Before taking on The Killer Weed Coloring Book, I actually sat down and researched what was out there to see where the market was and what other people had released. I can safely say if you want a stoner-related coloring book, The Killer Weed Coloring Book smokes the rest of them. Sure, there are other stoner coloring books, but if you're serious about your weed, then this is the one for you.
You've been a tattoo artist, poster artist, and an entrepreneur. Does your irreverent stoner illustration style embody the life you’ve lived?
Yes, it's me totally; I'm all about the culture. I only really do custom tattoo work that features hand-drawn pieces of my art that directly relate to cannabis culture, and I'm covered in tattoos of my own artwork, like a walking canvas of my artwork. All my posters are done for cannabis events, cannabis celebrities, or bands who support cannabis. However, it's the entrepreneurship that's kind of taking me away from the actual artwork more and more these days. The bigger it all gets, the less time I'm drawing and the more time I'm going through paperwork, proposals, meetings, or answering questions from my agent or my accountant.
What is it about psychedelic art that makes you go wild?
It's the shit! The two areas that I love are underground comix and psychedelic poster art. Psychedelic poster art is just a whole different level of poster art, the linework and how it flows, the lettering and the image use. I think the main part I love is the lettering and the borders. I really love the posters that guys like Rick Griffin, Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley, Victor Moscoso, and Wes Wilson created; they’re still referenced in the work of today’s top poster artists.
What are some career highlights you’ve experienced?
As far as artwork highlights, Seattle Hempfest: That was and is still my favorite; they had Stanley Mouse do a poster in 2012 and asked me to do one in 2013. To do a follow-up poster after one of my idols (and it’s also the largest cannabis law reform rally in the world), that was huge! My first ever piece for Tommy Chong was also huge [for me]. When that sunk in, it definitely made me smile. Also, seeing Snoop Dogg posting a video to his Instagram wearing a t-shirt that had my artwork on the front was another moment that blew me away!
You've worked for SRH Clothing? Isn't that the brand that Kottonmouth Kings promote?
Yes, I was with SRH for over ten years. It was a killer part of my life. The cool thing was that I was a fan of what SRH done before I started to work for them. SRH was OG SoCal punk and it grew into a clothing line; it was around for years before Kottonmouth Kings were even wearing it. We’re talking early Sublime, The Offspring, Blink, Pennywise, NOFX, Unwritten Law… KMK were actually the first band to ever release my artwork and I was honored by that. I've also done some early merch designs for them.
We had some fun at SRH and it definitely opened some door ways for me, not so much in the cannabis poster world, more so earlier band pieces. I met HED PE and The Offspring through SRH, plus my first Slightly Stoopid pieces were thru SRH. I left SRH years ago, but have stayed good friends with both of the owners, Zinger and Ryan. I will be friends with them for the rest of my life.
How does Melbourne compare to LA in terms of culture and pot quality?
You can't compare the two. LA is on a whole new level. Well not just LA, the US as a whole is on a different level than anywhere else. The US has just exploded the pot scene right open! I've smoked in places like LA, SF, CO, WA, OR, and the quality of the strains is crazy. We’re talking about different-level weed. Australia is nowhere near that level. Sure, we have some great weed, but we're not even in the race yet.
‘The Killer Weed Coloring Book: For Marijuana Lovers’ is out soon through Northlight Books. Pre-order it here.