Life is full of happy coincidences, and for Anthony Ortega, a blank wall in exactly the right spot turned out to be one of them. “I got involved in the Reno Mural Expo and the wall they chose for me to paint was right behind Mynt,” he says with a grin. And while it may seem a little too obvious that the long-haired, soft-spoken muralist/tattoo artist is a proponent of cannabis, there’s more to it – and to him – than you might think.
“I have just basically been an artist since I was a kid,” Anthony says simply. “Every kid likes to draw, but I just liked it more than other things. I stuck with it my whole life and was always trying to figure out a way to turn it into my living so I could be an artist and not, quote unquote, a struggling artist, a starving artist.”
Youthful graffitiing led to Anthony’s first tattoo, and from there, his future was set. “I realized that was probably the best route for me as far as my personality and the way that I like to live life and being able to do art every day,” he says.
The self-taught artist never really put down the paint, but he did pick up the tattoo machine. And interestingly, a background in spray paint art really helped him master his new craft. “The permanent aspect and the consistency of how you have to pull your paint line without hesitation was really helpful when I started tattooing” Anthony explains. “I really love tattooing people, putting that mark on someone. It gives you a different kind of reward and it’s hard to compare the reward of a giant building to a living person that’s sharing your art.”
Anthony continues his work not just on living art, but in murals around town. After the impressive reaction to his murals near Mynt, the dispensary approached him for a live painting exhibition at the 420 event, which was awarded to a lucky recipient. Recently, he painted a praying mantis and wasp on the power box in front of the dispensary, bringing another source of art and interest and maybe even inspiration to our downtown.
And then, we asked him to be one of our creative ambassadors. We admired his artwork, of course, but we found his straightforward approach to cannabis just as impressive.
“The cannabis world is very much more extensive than I ever could have imagined,” says Anthony. “The longer I’ve been smoking, the more I’ve noticed a difference in the types of weed and the effects that they’ll have on me and the percentages. And the more it develops, the more I learn and the more I can apply it directly to what I need it for as opposed to do just doing it just because. It serves a purpose.”
And it’s that recognition that makes Anthony so much more than the stereotype. He’s not trying to get high just for the sake of getting high. Like he says, he’s after a specific result. “Drawing, tattooing, spray painting, definitely on the sativa end is a lot more beneficial to me. If I smoke heavier indicas while I’m tattooing, I tend to get a lot more tired as I’m going,” he says.
As he refines his cannabis use, he sees other benefits.
“I like red wine, but it makes my heart a little racy,” Anthony says. “If I eat an infused chocolate it does the same thing without the heart effects and I can actually fall sleep faster because I’m not trying to relax.”
As an ambassador, Anthony keeps it simple. “I feel like the best information to share with anybody, whether it be a kid, or an old-timer who has a bad view on it because of the history,” is to play it straight. “Just being honest, open and being truthful about why exactly I’m using it, I feel like I get a lot better response with people,” he says.