Janice Weldon has lived in Champaign for most of her life. She’s a self taught artist, mother, and digital illustrator with a love for skating. feralFLORALS was created as a result of encouraging her kids to find and follow their passions and the legalization of cannabis in 2020. She pursued her interests and it led her to develop a brand based around digitally illustrated and botanical-themed designs, graphics, and patterns. She then transfers them to products like stickers, enamel pins, and textiles that can be found throughout Champaign-Urbana. What I enjoy about Weldon’s designs is that they don’t take themselves too seriously. Cannabis definitely has plenty of stereotypes, but pastel patterns and fun rompers would not be the first words that come to mind and that’s what I like about this brand (and Weldon). Both seem confident in themselves, and I think we could all use a little more of that. In this interview, Weldon and I chat about inspiration, misconceptions, and connecting with nature.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Smile Politely: How did you end up in Champaign-Urbana or have you always been here?
Janice Weldon: I moved here from Beijing when I was seven because my dad was studying at the University of Illinois. I left to attend Northern Illinois and Illinois State University but returned to Champaign after completing my bachelor’s in psychology and have been here since.
SP: Your work is inspired by nature, specifically cannabis, but your recent Instagram posts have included a wider variety of plants. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Weldon: All of my designs include elements of different flora that I’ve been inspired by but I’ve chosen to focus on the cannabis flower as my main subject because I felt it has been visually under represented in our society since cannabis has historically been symbolized by the leaf. I’m also always experimenting with my designs and incorporating interesting plants that I learn about so it usually just depends on what I’m drawn to at the time.
SP: In your words, what is the ethos of your brand?
Weldon: feralFLORALS is my interpretation of and appreciation for our connection with nature and each other. I feel like it’s so easy for everyone to forget that connection during the chaos of daily life so I want to create things to remind us of that magic.
SP: What does your design process look like?
Weldon: Typically I have a rough concept for a project but I never know how it will it turn out. Usually I just let things flow and see where I end up. I also enjoy doing research on the things I’m illustrating so there’s a lot of that involved.
SP: What is the biggest misconception about your work?
Weldon: Sometimes people are surprised after seeing my designs, but that’s part of the concept and purpose of my work, to change how some people think about and see cannabis and other plants.
SP: How do you balance being a mom and small business owner?
Weldon: Keeping the balance is not always easy but I try to designate time for both and try not to feel too guilty when I don’t. Having a supportive partner and family also helps tremendously.
SP: How do you decide on the products to make?
Weldon: I try to be very mindful of the functionality and practicality of what I produce. I want to put my work out into the world without being too much of a contributor to our unhealthy consumption habits.
SP: What does the future of Feral Florals look like?
Weldon: I want to create more patterns for textiles and wallpaper and maybe start dabbling in murals.
SP: What are your favorite and least favorite parts of C-U?
Weldon: There’s so many things I love about C-U and this community continues to surprise and amaze me even after living here for almost 30 years. I don’t appreciate the Midwest winters though.
SP: Where can we find Feral Florals?
SP: Anything else you want people to know?
Weldon: It’s never too late, hug a tree, be kind, and skate everyday.