We had the good fortune of connecting with Asia Taber and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Asia, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I’ve been a creative my whole life! Creating with art started at a young age when I was always excited to put together elaborate projects for school. As I got older it evolved into making jewelry, painting, upscaling furniture, and more! The ways in which I create has always been a way in which I cope and deal with life’s adversities. The outlet of streaming my emotions into making something more beautiful outside of myself became like meditation. However, it wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I made it my my career, and only about 3 years ago that I even considered myself an “artist”.

I met my husband almost 11 years ago now. The first couple of times we met, he always had a jar of weed handy. I wasn’t a big fan of consuming cannabis at the time as the side effects weren’t appealing–cottonmouth and paranoia. As a runner I also realized the feeling you get after smoking cannabis is very similar to “runners high”, so I decided I’d rather get that ‘feeling’ through a run rather than smoking. At the time I told my future husband all my feelings and opinions about cannabis. He had a very simple response for me and said, “You’re smoking bad weed.” That statement blew my mind…weed is just weed, right? Wrong! From that moment forward my world and perspective on the medicinal aspect of cannabis broadened, and continues to this day.

I started using cannabis medicinally after educating myself more on the plants physiological and biological mechanisms. I quickly became my own science experiment in finding what type, how much, and how often to consume to counteract negative symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. Some of my very first work in the cannabis industry was for my husband‘s first cannabis collective in Culver City around 2012. It started out with fun little videos and pictures of products that they carried at the shop. It’s been quite the experience to work in the cannabis industry for so many years, as so many things have changed. Eventually, my interest in mental health inspired me to go back to school.

I was going to school for Psychology, and the combination of my studies with real world experience helped liberate me from sickness and take healing into my own hands.

At the time, while going to school, I was a Special Education teacher. On my days off, or on holidays, I would go to work with my husband to the Cannabis Collective he ran in DTLA. I loved going to work with him! But mostly loved hanging out with the plants in the grow rooms. I was enthralled by the spectrum of colors it would produce, the smells, and the presence of this plant. At this time, around 2015, Instagram was just starting to gain in popularity. I would periodically scroll through #cannabis to see what was out there. I was instantly put off by the low grade photos, highly sexualized women, and general lack of creativity. As a daily cannabis user, I felt we [the cannabis community] could do better. I didn’t feel represented, inspired, or proud of my cannabis use by anything that I was seeing. I decided it would be fun to use my creativity to do my own thing with cannabis and offered to start an Instagram page for the cannabis collective my husband worked for. What started out as a fun hobby on the weekends soon became my full-time job about a year later. As a one-man-team in the marketing department I was determined to change the way in which we view the cannabis plant and those who consume it through my creative work.

A couple years into working full-time as a cannabis photographer, an employee encouraged me to start posting my work on a personal page. I had successfully reached my goal in inspiring others, but now others wanted to know who I was. My clinical anxiety at the time prevented me from fully being myself, but eventually the positive feedback from others in the community about my work encouraged and allowed me to blossom. My cannabis art has evolved from taking images with my iPhone 6 to buying a legitimate camera and doing live cannabis art installations. My intentions are, and always have been, to connect with people through my work on a deeper level. I struggled for much of my life with no hope and the fear there would be no way out of the dark. However, cannabis has been a gentle friend and co-pilot in helping me navigate towards greater health and wellness. Breaking through old thought patterns and beliefs helped free myself of the barriers that originally prevented me from allowing this plant to heal me and be the best version of myself. I can only hope my art continues to do the same for others, as it did for me, in their journey towards health and healing.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I like to call myself a Visual Cannabis Artist because the medium with which I create is with cannabis. I can only hope to put a new light on the plant as well as those who use it. A mindset I tend to have is, can I be the first to do it with cannabis? I’m always looking for ways in which I can push the boundaries in what’s possible with cannabis. Some of the art I am most proud of are things I’ve never seen. Much of the time, before I start building an art piece, I feel tremendous pressure and anxiety just based purely on not knowing whether or not it will work out in the first place.

The journey to get to where I am at in creating with cannabis has not been easy, and still there is a new challenge daily in what I’m up against. One of the hardest things for me to cope with is censorship of the plant. I cannot promote my work on any social platform, and quite honestly fear the inevitable removal of my accounts (which has happened several times before). I am constantly denied whether I am promoting my art or the awareness of the medicinal use of cannabis. At first I felt the injustice, but like I’ve mentioned before I’ve learned to turn such adversities into inspired action art. In the same sense I am aware that I am NOT the only one suffering the injustices. There are many who have suffered far worse than I, and continuing to produce art with cannabis can hopefully contribute to a societal change.

In addition to the censorship, I make art with a federally illegal substance. As much as I aspire to travel the world and create cannabis installations, I am bound to the state in which it is legalized or not. The cannabis plant is not cheap like a bouquet of flowers from the store, but rather a commodity that most don’t have access to. Even at times I find that sourcing cannabis for my art can come with many obstacles, but I have to trust in knowing things will always work out. I have received countless messages, which I am so grateful and thankful to have gotten, in which people from around the world express the legalized state of the plant in which they live. Some have the most extreme responses, while others are just grateful to see more appealing and classy images of the plant. For me I rely on those voices as encouragement to keep going in really tough moments when I’m struggling with work and wonder why am I doing this. Those who reach out and say how my art inspires them or makes them feel better about consuming cannabis contributes to my ability to stay strong and steadfast in my intentions to continue to make art in the hopes it contributes to a new global way of thinking about cannabis. I make my art for them!

I first started posting my art on Instagram about 4 years ago, and throughout the years I’ve had countless people reach out and ask if they could purchase prints of my work. At first I wasn’t into the idea of producing prints, let alone any other products. As time has gone on I realized selling prints would allow others to have a beautiful image of a plant that has helped them as much as it’s helped me. About a year ago I started my company, High Pilot Design. The name was inspired 4 years prior while I had just started working full-time in the cannabis industry. At that time I had clinical anxiety that prevented me from completing easy everyday tasks. One day in particular my anxieties were so high i couldn’t do anything!
My husband saw that I was struggling and said, “Why don’t you go smoke a joint?”
In a defense I said, “No, I can’t smoke during the day!”
I had this belief that I could only consume in the evening after all work was done, and I primarily used cannabis to alleviate my insomnia. If I were to smoke during the day that would make me a ‘stoner’! The stereotype of a stoner was everything I tried so hard to avoid! I was smart, intelligent, hard working, and got stuff done, so smoking during the day would make me a hypocrite, right?
My husband continued by saying, “It looks like you’re really struggling and I think cannabis will help. You don’t have to smoke the whole thing. Just take a couple puffs and come back to your work. I promise…”
I took his word for it and got a very light cannabis sativa joint and went outside to take a couple puffs. Before I even realized what happened, I was knocking out all my work without ANY anxiety preventing me. All at once reality hit me in the face! I was not a good navigator of my emotions. Rather my emotions were taking me on a WILD ride, and I was not enjoying it. However, with a little help from my co-pilot cannabis, I’m a better regulator of my emotions—I am a High Pilot! The name of my company, High Pilot, was born in the hopes that others too will have a profound breakthrough in the limits their thoughts have placed on them in preventing access to something that could potentially help them heal–cannabis. Whether it’s through a piece of my art or a product I’ve produced, I hope to help others become High Pilots too.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’ve become so attached to the Art’s District in DTLA. 5 years ago my husband started running a cannabis collective in the district I loved to tag along and walk through the neighborhood. You can get lost for hours seeking out new street art, trying out new foods either in a restaurant or from a truck, and then sneaking into a couple boutique shops. Not to mention, we would probably start our tour of the Cannabis gardens at the shop. I tend to forget people aren’t used to seeing large rooms of cannabis, as I have become desensitized to them, but the joy on their faces when peeking into a room with wall to wall weed is always priceless. Lastly, a few blocks over you can get lost in the endless worlds of the floral district, fashion district and more! The downtown area has started to change drastically, and giving a friend from out of town the tour is a must!

After the hustle and bustle of the city we would make the trek back to our neighborhood in Pasadena. We’ve lived in the area now for almost 6 years and are still discovering new things. There is the best of both worlds from Old Town Pasadena restaurants and shopping to getting away on a hike in nature to Mt. Wilson.

To be honest, I’ve lived in LA for almost 13 years now, and there are endless things to do in LA. I’d also take them to the beach. Any dog beach will do! We could venture into Venice or Santa Monica. Or take a small road trip to the OC for the day. Over the years I’ve learned to appreciate this city in so many various ways.

In honor of my first gallery showing in the Arts District at the new Coast to Coast Collective this coming September 2021, I am raffling off two full-exclusive behind the scenes tours of the cannabis gardens at the New DTLA 3C Farms facility.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Throughout my entire life I’ve always had a profound support team. I am so grateful to have such wonderful and encouraging people in my life. I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am without them. My Mom and Dad have always been there for me. From the age of 19, I moved to LA to pursue modeling. I lived a sheltered childhood, and didn’t know or understand people. Moving to LA made me grow up fast! Much of the trauma contributing to my anxieties and depressions stem from a lack of coping mechanisms in regard to experiences I had as a model, but have also pushed me to where I am today.

My husband, Waylon Broussard, has been by my side for almost 11 years now. He is my best friend! We have been through so much together and grown as a couple through every trial and tribulation. I would NOT be the artist I am today without his love, commitment, and dedication. Not only did he reintroduce me to the world of cannabis, but he has also taken me along for the ride. I’ve been behind the scenes for over 10 years now–trimming, cultivation, trade shows, bud tending, and more. You name it, and we’ve probably seen or done something in some regard in the cannabis industry. Additionally, he always supports and helps me bring to life whatever crazy cannabis idea I’ve come up with. And I’m so excited to say that this coming July 2021 we will be welcoming our first child, a son, into the world. There’s no one else I’d rather be taking this journey through life with…

Lastly, and certainly not least, a shoutout to the divine inspiration derived from others I’ve met, people I look up to, those I’ve learned from, and many who have pushed me to be better. Everyone from old coworkers, professors, friends, and even to audio books by Eckhart Tolle himself. As an artist, I am in constant receiving and awareness. These awarenesses generate visions of inspired action that eventually become my art. Over the years I’ve learned to turn adversity into action and use it to generate a more powerful message that resonates with myself and hopefully others as well.

How to enter to win a behind the scenes tour?
Go to highpilot.com and fill out the entry form for your chance to win! 

Website: www.highpilot.com

Instagram: @asiataber, @highpilotdesign, @highpilot.shop

Linkedin: Asia Taber

Twitter: @asia_taber

Facebook: asiataber

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.