April 20th is upon us once again. To celebrate cannabis culture’s “high-holiday” we had Etch-a-Sketch artist Bryan Madden recreate the iconic image of a puffing future President Barack Obama.
While Obama has openly discussed his pot use on several occasions -- “I inhaled frequently, that was the point!" -- the photographer who shot the image during Obama’s freshman year of college claims it is not a joint but rather from a “pack of cigarettes” Obama brought to the shoot.
Yeah, sure, we totally believe you.
Recreating the photo with the classic art toy took Madden three attempts over the course of four hours. A tedious task to be sure, but fortunately Madden often has a little 4/20-appropriate assistance. “[Smoking pot] is helpful because Etch A Sketching is a very tedious operation so anything to make it a little more enjoyable is a benefit” he explains. “Most artists, I think, probably smoke pot. It does, you know, enhance creativity with a lot of people.”
While Madden is pro-legalization of marijuana, his portrait subject has not fully come around on the issue. During a interview with Vice, Obama said that legalization “shouldn’t be young people’s biggest priority.” Instead the President encouraged America’s youth to make causes like climate change and jobs their primary concern.
For his part, Madden understands that making big changes to policy is not always easy. His project is about seeing the President from a different perspective, not taking him to task for his stance on pot.
“I feel the photo depicts young Obama as a cool guy and makes him relatable. I'd sooner vote for that guy than an antiquated, Prohibition-era type,” he told The Huffington Post. "Legalization is going to happen, but I don't put it on Obama to make it happen now, regardless of his stance on the issue. He has important things to do and I can't imagine this topic is at the top of his list.”
But should the opportunity ever arise, Madden would be more than happy to take a toke with the Commander In Chief.
“I would happily smoke a joint with any president,” the artist said. “Any president that’s not an evil dictator or runs a suppressive regime.”