Collaboration is a wonderful thing. When my friend Rosston Meyer told me a few years ago that he was planning a pop-up cannabis book, I thought it sounded like a great idea. I knew Meyer ran an independent publishing house designing pop-up books in collaboration with artists. Meyer is a designer with a passion for art and pop culture, so I imagined his books were a modern upgrade of the old-school pop-up books I played with as a child—3-D elements and foldouts, tabs to pull and wheels to spin—but with a modern aesthetic that appeals to adults. “A pop-up on pot would be cool to flip through and play with,” I remember thinking. “I hope he does it.”
A few years later, Meyer came around to show me a physical mock-up of his pot-themed pop-up, which he’d titled Dimensional Cannabis. What he showed me was a modern art form I wasn’t aware existed. Yes, the book featured 3-D elements and foldouts, with tabs to pull and wheels to spin, but what I had pictured was similar only in concept. These were intricate and elaborate kinetic paper sculptures that painted a picture and brought it to life. I was blown away. So, when he asked if I’d be interested in writing the words to go on the pages before me, I signed on immediately.
Altogether, Dimensional Cannabis took more than three years to complete, with a total of nine people contributing to the final product published by Poposition Press, Meyer’s independent publishing house. A small press, Poposition designs, publishes, and distributes limited-edition pop-up books that feature artists or subjects that Meyer finds of deep personal interest. He got started in the genre in 2013, when he started working on a collaboration with Jim Mahfood, a comic book creator known as Food One. The resulting Pop-Up Funk features Mahfood’s diverse designs transformed into interactive three-dimensional pop-ups. The limited-edition run of 100 copies were all constructed by hand.
Since then, Poposition has worked with a number of contemporary artists to publish titles like Triad by cute-culture artist Junko Mizuno and Necronomicon by macabre master Skinner.
Meyer has been fascinated by pop-up books since he was a kid, and in 2013, he began concentrating on paper engineering and book production. “After making a couple books focused on just artists, I thought that creating a pop-up book about cannabis would be a good idea,” he says. “There’s nothing else like it in the market, and there’s an audience for adult-themed pop-up books.”
For Dimensional Cannabis, Meyer collaborated with Mike Giant, a renowned American illustrator, graffiti writer, tattooer, and artist. Giant’s medium of choice is a Sharpie, and Giant’s detailed line work is instantly recognizable. An avid proponent of cannabis, Giant illustrated the entire Dimensional Cannabis book.
Giant and Meyer met at a weekly open studio Giant hosted in Boulder. “When the idea of doing a pop-up book about cannabis came up, he asked if I would illustrate it,” Giant says. “I’ve been an advocate for cannabis use for decades, so it didn’t take long for me to agree to work on the project.”
Meyer began by sending Giant reference materials to visualize. “I’d get it drawn out, hand it off, and get some more stuff to illustrate,” Giant says. “He’d send me previews of the finished pages as we went. It was really cool to see my line drawings colored and cut to shape. That process went on for months and months until everything for the book was accounted for.”
The process of making pop-up books is called “paper engineering.” I love obsessives, and the engineers who put this book together, make no mistake, are the ones who spend endless hours figuring out the tiniest details of the folds and materials necessary so that water pipe emerges every time you open the paraphernalia page.
“David Carter and I started talking about the idea a couple years prior to actually starting on the book,” Meyer says. “The initial concepts for each spread were figured out, and a different paper-engineer peer was asked to design each spread so that the book had variation throughout.”
Dimensional Cannabis is divided into six pages, or spreads, covering the cannabis plant’s biology, medical properties, cultivation, history, and influence on popular culture. The paraphernalia page features many items we associate with cannabis consumption over the years in America, from rolling papers and pipes to vaporizers, dabs, and concentrates—and that foot-long bong that miraculously appears as you turn the page.
One spread opens to the full plant, with information on its unique and fascinating properties. Another opens to a colorful, meditating figure with text about the healing properties of cannabis. One page is dedicated to its cultivation possibilities, basic genetics, and the differences between indoor and outdoor growing.
The history spread takes us back to the beginnings of the curious and long-standing connection between humans and cannabis. Engineer Simon Arizpe had worked with Meyer before and jumped at the chance to work on that one. “I wanted it to be Eurasian-centric as the viewer opens the page, showing the early uses of cannabis in ancient Vietnam and China,” Arizpe says. “As the viewer engages with the pop-up, cannabis’s use in the new world spreads across the page,” he adds. “We decided [to focus] on moments in time that were either politically relevant, like weed legalization, or culturally significant, like Reefer Madness.”
Arizpe feels like the entire project is an example of what can be done working with talented people outside the traditional publishing engine. “Rosston came up with an idea that has a big following and made it happen,” he says. “It is pretty exciting when people can do that out of nothing.”
For Meyer, who says he likes a good sativa when he’s working, the project was a labor of love that spans all his areas of interest. “Not only was this a great experience putting together such a unique book, but having different paper engineers work on each spread made this a real collaboration,” he says. “There have only been a couple pop-up books produced with a roster of engineers. Dimensional Cannabis is for cannabis lovers and pop-up book collectors alike.”