Isac Gundrosen realised during his bachelor studies in experience design that advertising is a “dark art” which plays a huge role in shaping and manipulating our unconscious mind. Wanting to use this art for the greater purpose of changing the public perception of drugs (mainly psychedelics), he went to art school. Isac established a design studio in his native Norway through which he has designed the visual branding and websites for EmmaSofia (Norwegian organisation fighting the right to use MDMA and Psylocibin), “The Association for a Safer Drug Policy (organisation working towards endig the War on Drugs in Norway), Norwegian LEAP, the German Psychedelic Society and, has lately worked on the website design for “The Third Wave” (organisation spreading knowledge on the benefits of microdosing). Based on all these experiences, Isac created the art project “Pretty Drug Things”.
At BP 2018, Isac will introduce his art project in his talk titled: “Pretty Drug Things- Changing the perception of drugs using the dark arts of advertising”.
This will be my first time attending, but it seems like a great initiative. I have attended other psychedelic conferences in the past and it’s always nice to meet fellow minded people in a setting like that. I really appreciate all the effort you have put into this and I can’t wait to be there!
Unfortunately it is a mixed bag of feelings. The people in power have suppressed the movement for years, but with the emergence of internet and the free flow of information the propaganda machine they created is facing some real difficulties in continuing the spread of misinformation. The emergence of new academic research is also very promising and I hope that in the near future we will start to see some countries beginning to offer legal psychedelic therapy. And in spite of the war on drugs it is a fantastic time to learn and explore psychedelics as the internet has made what was once esoteric knowledge available to anyone all over the world for free. There are some amazing online resources out there that have helped to spread knowledge and have created an absolutely beautiful community of likeminded people.
The biggest challenge I see right now is to change the public perception. The government has effectively demonised these drugs for so long that for most people they are now seen as extremely dangerous and destructive drugs. This can only be overcome by spreading knowledge as far and wide as possible. As a designer I also see the need for developing a new aesthetic for the movement. There is so much stigma around these substances and unfortunately that stigma is connected to the psychedelic aesthetics for many people. I have been working on slowly changing this the last few years using a modern and minimalistic approach to help make the movement less “scary” for people without prior experience. There is some resistance against this from both sides unfortunately and although I understand that for many people the old psychedelic aesthetic is both visually interesting and maybe even part of their personal identity I truly believe that modernising the design of the movement can help make it more accessible for a lot more people. The change has already started to happen with pop-culture incorporating elements from the psychedelic movement and making it more mainstream, but it is a long way to go before the public perception will truly change.
The liberalist in me envisions a future where everything is freely available to the public without much interference from the government, but the realist in me can’t see that happening any time soon. I can however easily envision a future where these substances are used for therapeutic purposes under guidance from someone experienced in a controlled setting. My hope is that in the coming years we will start to see “trip centres”(most likely under a different branding 😛 ) that offer these experiences for a wide variety of illnesses or even just for leisure. With proper quality controlled materials under the guidance of a medical practitioner or somebody else with proper understanding of how these chemicals work. I have been working with a ketamine clinic opening up in Norway this summer and I can easily envision a similar sort of set-up working for other psychoactive substances.
My journey into psychedelics started over 10 years ago with psilocybin mushrooms. As the son of a heroin addict I had grown up with an irrational hatred towards all drugs, but somehow the little mushrooms piqued my interest after an ex-girlfriend shared some stories about her experiences with them. I started reading as much as I could about them and could not help being incredibly fascinated by what I was reading. After a few months of reading up on them I finally managed to get a hold of a few mushrooms to give them a try. This was the beginning of a whole new way of looking at my life and in no way could I have prepared for the drastic changes in my personality that these little fungi would do with me. I went from being a self-centred, materialistic and selfish young man to suddenly experiencing empathy, love and understanding for the people around me. The changes did not happen overnight, but over the next few years I shifted in ways that I would never imagine to be possible. It was not at all easy and there were moments that really challenged me and my way of thinking, but I got out on the other side and started my journey of self improvement. I began understanding my father more and we grew closer together, and we found new respect for my mother who stood by him all those years to keep the family together. I started to find direction in life in terms of work and gained a lot of confidence in my creative work. For some time I struggled to see how I could use what the mushrooms showed me in everyday life, but as the years passed I slowly started to work more and more towards integrating it into every aspect of my life. First through design and creative work and later as a motivator to start engaging myself on a political scale. Through our association in Norway (Association for safer drug policies) we are starting to change the political landscape in our country and for the first time it seems realistic that the government will stop criminalising people for seeking these experiences. It fills me with joy looking back on everything that has happened since I sat with those tiny little fungi in my hand at my cabin a little over 10 years ago and I can’t even begin to imagine how my life would look like if I never had tried them.