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Photo by Mark Archer

The Art of Dab Sculpting

"To dream something up, create it with your hands, just to combust and consume it — it’s a very refreshing form of art."

“Hash art” hearkens to the hard work and passion behind the people pumping out delicious dabs. By catering to each product’s unique characteristics, artists look to provide a peek past the limitations of two-dimensional mediums like social media. 

The art form teases us to talk about consistency, color and texture in ways traditional product staging and styling can struggle to showcase. Additionally, it invites non-consumers to explore extracts and concentrates in a friendly, new light. And it’s friggin’ fun!

While we’re not attributing the origins of “hash art” to any one person or project — folks, like @ca_organic, were making magical creations with concentrates and extracts over a decade ago — it is worth noting that a few creatives have stepped into the spotlight over the last several years to spark the conversation of sculpture. It’s a style that, in our community, is still fairly fresh. However, it continues to grow as brands and artists alike look to captivate consumers in a sea of social media and marketing monotony. 

In this light, for the 2024 Concentrates and Extracts Issue cover, the team dreamed up a dab like no other and passed the torch to the terrifically talented Mark Archer (@thecuratorco.me) from Windham, Maine. He fired it up on a flawless Toro “Grail” (banger), roasted some rosin, and the rest is history. 

Archer’s “Dabman” became a star in recent years, but he has since found his footing in a few more styles of “sculpting,” all while developing a stunning set of self-taught photography skills. Intrigued by his journey, we spoke with him about the inspiration behind that delightful little Dabman, the loving labor poured into his craft, and more.

How did you find your way into dab art and sculpting?
Mark: I was trying to find a way to separate myself after seeing a lot of weed photography becoming more popular around the time. Pretty much everyone was doing basic dabber shots and a lot of the same stuff. I thought, ‘What can I do in this medium to detach myself and make this more appealing.’ That’s when the first ‘Dabman’ was born.

Can you share a little bit about the work behind crafting the cover image?
I had to make the word ‘Leaf’ out of hash, and then I had to make that pot leaf individually out of ‘snakes.’ Then I had to shoot that and superimpose it there because it would have been impossible to get the definition of the leaf otherwise. I shot the drips separately in single frames with a high aperture and then put it all together.

That sounds complicated, and all before you’ve even picked up your camera! What’s a common misconception about creative work of this caliber? 
Sometimes people think that you’re just taking a picture. When I first got into it, people would ask, ‘Why would I pay a photographer when I could do it with my cell phone?’ I’ve spent thousands of dollars on my camera body alone. And taught myself everything. Learning all the programs and techniques takes years to really get down. I went to college for business and marketing, and I try to explain to people that major companies put a large portion of their expenditures into marketing because the product is almost less important than how you present it. In order to get it into someone’s hands, perceived value is everything. 

What can this type of creative perspective offer consumers and producers?
I think it’s a way to draw new eyes to cultivators and hash makers that wouldn’t have been seen otherwise because of how saturated the market is with traditional Cannabis photography styles. When you’re used to seeing the same thing over and over, it becomes mindless. And when you mold the hash — especially when you’re shooting on a macro scale — you’re showing people a bunch of characteristics about it, while also giving them a palpable piece of media that they’re probably going to remember.

The “Dabman” is an undeniably iconic creation. But this community offers boundless ideas, and with a handful of products and consistencies circulating, the medium provides a plethora of playful options. Many familiar with Archer’s work will recognize our next two talented artists: Alex Dubs (known as @workdubs), and Tony Rinaldo (known as @loud_n_errl_).   

On top of crafting our 2023 Concentrate Issue cover, North Carolina artist Alex Dubs dives into an array of lifelike creatures and more. Her art form often features figures ranging from flowers to animals, but you’ll even find wonderfully woven blunts and delicately designed bowls of kief in her collection.

Tony Rinaldo’s style incorporates lively scenes with a mix of flower and other Cannabis forms. But you’ll also catch this Rome, New York resident sculpting everything from scary skulls to sweet snowmen, fun faces and “fresh” fruit. We spoke with Dubs and Rinaldo for more insight into this fascinating field.

How have your skills grown since your first sculpture creation?
Alex: I made a little hash rosin flower, and looking back, it was very basic, but I’m proud of it. I’ve now learned how to manipulate the hash using the heat from my fingers instead of fighting with it, so my flower petals are a lot more advanced and I can create more than just basic shapes now. 

Tony: My first post (in 2014-ish) was a nipple made of shatter on top of half an Oil Slick container. I called it ‘Errleola.’ I think we would all agree that my skills have grown tremendously since then! Ha!

What draws you to this art form?
Alex: There’s something very peaceful about making Cannabis art. I’m reminded of the Buddhist sand mandalas. It’s the process of creation and then destruction that’s almost spiritualistic. Instead of framing art to hang on the wall and look at, it’s something temporary and meant to be enjoyed. I can take a picture to memorialize it, but my favorite part is consuming it. To dream something up, create it with your hands, just to combust and consume it — it’s a very refreshing form of art to me. 

Why tackle creations outside of the typical jar and dab shot?
Tony: They get you thinking and show the product in ways traditional staging and styling doesn’t. For example, they can show you multiple products at once where traditional often offers one at a time. Creative marketing, staging and styling are only limited to the imagination of the people creating it.

This article was originally published in the July 2024 issue of All Magazines.

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