Influenced by cyberpunk, anime, the future and the massively trippy, xsullo’s art is everything you want to see in a contemporary artist. It’s no wonder he took the High Art prize this year with his piece entitled “Adjoin.” Xsullo, whose real name is Nick Sullo, transforms images of people into futuristic cyborgs who are still very much in touch with spirituality, and his art depicts cannabis culture in a completely uncommonly fascinating way. Too often, the marrying of styles can seem hacky or overdone, especially in the world of cannabis art and when working with contemporary subject matter, but xsullo pulls it off without a hitch. CULTURE talked to Sullo about his art, his recent win and the gorgeous works he hopes to craft for years to come.
How did you first get started making art, and how did that coincide with your cannabis journey?
I started getting into art as early as four or five, just doodling, coloring in coloring books, everyday kind of kid things with drawing. When my family and teachers noticed I had an interest in it, they tried to keep it alive. I had a teacher who noticed I had a passion and helped me pick up more of a skill set. I started learning about painting, watercolors, all kinds of art, and just noticed I really had a passion and just absolutely loved it.
As I got older, I realized I wanted to do art for a living. Then things started to become more digital, and I started learning even more. This was around the same time I started to learn about and have a relationship with cannabis. I got into Photoshop, which is great, because you can just sit down and use so many tools to create. It all kind of just went from there.
“I think a little more critically and creatively when I smoke. Sometimes I have a kind of breakthrough into a different kind of creative realm artistically.”
How would you describe your style and the kind of art you create?
I would say it’s a lot of ’90s, cyber-punk-influenced kind of stuff. There’s definitely an influence of anime, like when I was a kid and Dragon Ball Z started to get so big in the U.S. Then it kind of got more surreal when I got into college, so I think the artwork I was creating back then was more like pop, and then I got more into surrealism. That’s kind of what you see me doing now, the marriage between pop and surrealism.
Which piece that you’ve created so far are you the proudest of?
I think that would have to be the one with the guy pretty much ripping off his face and revealing his skull. It was a really fun, powerful kind of in-your-face piece that I had a lot of fun coming up with; I always think about that because it was always a turning point for me.
There has always kind of been an homage in my art to all the things I grew up with, like Northern California and technology, and a fusion of those things.
How did you find out about the High Art contest, and what made you want to enter?
They actually reached out to me, which was awesome. I think they reached out to several artists to kind of get the momentum going. I was really excited when I heard there was going to be a technology theme. I thought it would be a great chance to get my art out there.
Why do you think this contest is important, both for art and for cannabis?
It’s great that some of the award money for the award gets donated, so you get to donate to a great cause. Also, I think cannabis and art definitely go hand-in-hand. For me, I think cannabis is a great creative outlet. It’s a way for me to kind of relax. Everything kind of calms down, and I don’t have as much heavy judgments on myself. I think a little more critically and creatively when I smoke. Sometimes I have a kind of breakthrough into a different kind of creative realm artistically.
I also think art can really help with cannabis, because with legalization, it’s great to have a nice piece of artwork attached to the product and a nice logo. That’s definitely what draws the customer’s attention. It creates a nice, positive environment to have artwork associated with cannabis.