Lead with Art- How to Become Necessary
When you become NECESSARY to your clients, trust and freedom come naturally. Here’s how I learned this lesson when I learned to Lead With Art.
When I left my professional career as a landscape architect I didn’t know quite where I was headed. I was running away from a desk job, away from a machine that I felt was producing less than excellent quality, and running toward all the things I thought I needed.
One of those needs was a feeling that I needed to prove that my artistic skills and gifts were something that people wanted to pay money for. This was a big one because I knew I was talented but had never experience it valued.
No one had ever paid me lots of money for my artistic talents.
For speed and accuracy? yes.
For quality work? Yes.
For the ability to get a job done? Yes.
But no one had ever wanted to pay me lots of money because they valued my work artistically. And I wanted it to be VERY valued.
Because it wasn’t valued, I stopped offering it. Just stopped doing what I do naturally- find ways to bring different ideas and materials together artfully. And that’s when I broke down and broke out.
I wanted to support myself with my artistic talents and was set on figuring out how.
I’d never done it but I’d seen it done.
In college, I thought I would be a public artist so I got two degrees, one in landscape architecture and one in sculpture. I had the opportunity to be the assistant to a successful public artist for a few months. After working for him, I approached the Seattle arts commission (I think now it’s the office of arts and cultural affairs). I started a special project that would evaluate public art projects by landscape architecture design standards. Through those two experiences, I got to see how professional artists are chosen, how tax money is managed for major civic art installations, and how an individual artist placed on a build team presented to and interacted with the rest of the design and building team- so architects, city planners, construction managers, civil engineers, structural engineers.
It was fascinating.
What I saw was the power of maintaining a vision. Nobody wants to mess with the strange, mysterious artist’s vision.
In these meetings, after an artist is selected for a big project like a light rail station, The artist is on the design team to build out this project.
And what I saw was artists OWNING their art, OWNING its purpose and importance, and acting as a protector and steward for the kind of impact their art would have on the community.
Understanding, collaborative, but unapologetic.
For the most part, the engineers, architects, budget managers, would do what they could to make the artists vision possible. City code was reinterpreted, entries and windows were reoriented, ground was regraded, structures reinforced. They knew they didn’t need to fully understand why, they just knew that they needed to trust and find a way to fulfill this strange person’s request.
When I started as an art minded landscape architect, I thought, hot dog, I know how this is done! Let’s start making some earth art!
What do you think happened?
Suddenly budgets were too tight, construction schedules were too far behind, it didn’t work with the engineering approach, some other component cost more so my budget would have to be reduced.
My perceived value was different because at that time and place, I was not considered an artist. I was a mere landscape architect who had to obey the boring laws of all the other non-artists.
I see the EXACT SAME PHENOMENON working in floral design, and I imagine, every profession.
So now I know this:
LEAD WITH ART
I’m not saying that leading as an artist will get you everything you want; that everything you propose is not still flexible to your client’s needs, but in my experience an effort is made to get you what you need because art has value… to some people… my kind of people maybe yours too.
And here’s a story about how leading with art played out in Lola.
Early on I would really take anything. Even if I wasn’t a good fit. I could always do something creative with the job.
Now, Our big break project came in 2013 when we got a call for a tech celeb’s birthday party. He was eclectic and would need a lot of strange things made.
I would need to put together a proposal asap. I had minimal information about what was happening or who this was happening for. Oh and I had 4 weeks to concept, get sign off, build, and install this massive event. And I would never meet the actual client- the birthday boy.
I asked how I would be able to do this without some sort of info about the project- with no budget range. She said, give me a number that there’s no way this could ever go over, and that will be the budget.
I said 50K because at the time, I thought, there’s no way anything could ever go over 50K. (Palm to forhead…. Groan.)
I asked how they found me and they had said that they asked the catering manager at their venue and she had said that Lola Creative was the only people she knew that could pull it off.
And then it occurred to me….
….The reason for that is on all of those small jobs that were not quite right, I would make an extra piece that was totally represented our company.
I’d walk the catering manager, planner, anyone in the industry over to look at it, and say with joy why I loved it so much.
This catering manager didn’t see all the boring stuff I had made during my first couple of years. She saw all the stuff I asked her to see, all the stuff I practically shoved in her face.
Because of that, I am now the only person that comes to mind when she had a golden egg to hand out!
That particular kind of golden egg, anyway.
So whatever is your art. Whether that be an amazing service, or a unique technique- whatever you want the responsibility to be known for. Lead with that. Put it in people’s faces even when they don’t ask for it.
That way people will know, when they get YOU, they get THIS, and that is how it has to be.
That way when people want THIS, they know they have to have YOU. You are necessary for THIS.
Come with an artist’s mindset about that and start seeing a new freedom among clients who want that thing and trust you exclusively to deliver it.
Oh man I get pumped up about this.
Lead with Art!
If you’re struggling with leading with art. Sign up to our inner floral posse. We talk about this sort of stuff. AND we have an upcoming product (September) that may make leading with art in your company a little easier 🙂
Ps, The images are not from that special break-through event. I was under a non-disclosure agreement and could not take pictures.
The beautiful people that always lead with art include Jojo Dyckhoff (Bamboo Beats) and Carlisia Minnis (Mac Fashion House).
I still love these photos so much 🙂 taken by Alante Photography
Slow Flowers Summit – Flower Wall Demo
Hello, hello! Today I want to show you a super cool new way to build a flower wall. We built this beaut as a communal building experience for this year’s Slow Flowers Summit attendees. If you haven’t heard about it, read about it here. Need I tell you that its foam free? No, I do not. Of course it is!
We’ve used this flower wall technique in the past for Seattle’s 2016 Art Fair; where it wowed outside during a hot, sunny August day in Seattle (hot and sunny DO happen in Seattle, we just don’t tell you about them). The point is, it holds up in heat, is pretty easy to construct, and is more sustainable than a van full of foam. This particular construction is strong enough to be stacked into an enormous wall. You can see such enormous wall stacking and construction of this in video from last year’s ART FAIR if you click here!
PS, if you are here looking for FLOWER WALL PRICING AND SPECIFIC INGREDIENTS, we are giving that away to folks who want to be part of our email flower posse. There’s a link at the bottom.
But back to our flower wall demo. About a month ago, I had the privilege to speak at Seattle’s first Slow Flowers Summit. Have you ever had a communal experience where you are surrounded by inspiring people and all you can think is “YASSSS, These are my people.” And suddenly it’s all you can do to NOT throw your arms around complete stranger and babble like you’ve been friends since you were 13? Like you ARE 13?!
This was one of those times. My talk was about Reinvention. But we also were asked to demo this wall. Really THE wall. We got the royal treatment as the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, SUOT farms and Alaskan Peonies donated buckets of flowers. Ehem, did I mention that we got the first cut of Alaskan Peonies, which were then airplaned (is that a verb? … is now.) with their human caretakers. These peonies were larger than my face, and my brother says my face is large.
For Flower walls, we use two methods. This one is the “moss and cage” or the “moss sandwich”. Our other go-to wall is a bioboard wall. We demo that soon. Stay tuned for a DIY video on how we made the Queen Bee’s backdrop, which is equally excellent but is useful in a totally different way. Here’s a breakdown of why you would use each wall..
Now that you get the basics, lets get your materials together! For this moss and cage wall, you will need:
- (3) Lumber 2in x 2in x 8ft
- Drill and bit
- A roll of chicken wire
- Zip ties
- (2) 4 x 6ft display grids, we got ours from Grand and Benedicts but you can find them at any retail display fixture store. If you are in a city, you probably have one.
- (5) bags of moss
- Wire cutters
- Saw (human powered or otherwise)
- Flowers, flowers and more flowers!
- 2 saw horses or a table. This is easier to build horizontally
Step 1: Wrap the Grid
Cover one side of each grid with chicken wire.
To get an idea of how this will look, try imagining the structure like a sandwich. The “condiments” (chicken wire) will be on the inside of the bread (the grid) to hold in the meat (the moss). For us, two long pieces of chicken wire was just the right amount to cover one side.
Starting with one piece of chicken wire, secure it to the grid with bind wire. Make sure you weave around the perimeter and throughout the middle. This keeps it from slipping or bulging. To save some bind wire, I cut a couple 3″ pieces and did little twist ties in random spots.
Step 2: Measure and Cut the Spacers
We are going to use the 2X2s as spacers, this ensures your thickness is uniform. We are going to pack in the moss but the spacers ensure that if there is a thin/ or dryer spot, the face won’t warp. It’s also critical if you are making a wall that is larger than your grid size (like in that video).
Measure the length and width of your grid. Cut your 2X2s to size. Remember to cut your short ends to account for the width of the longer pieces. We will want the shorties to fit inside the long pieces. All spacers should be attached Under the perimeter of your grid.
Step 3: Drill the Spacers and Zip Tie to the Grid
Choose a drill bit that gives enough room for one zip tie to slide through.
Next, drill a hole about two inches from the end and then continue to drill a hole every 4″ or so.
Once they’ve been drilled, attach the wood spacers to the grid by securing a zip tie through every other hole.
Step 4: Repeat on Other Grid
Cover the other grid with chicken wire as you did in Step 1. You won’t need spacers on this one, just the chicken wire. This will be the top piece of ‘bread’ to our sandwich.
Step 5: Moss It Up and Close the Sandwich
We’ll be adding moss to the grid with the spacers, so you may need to switch your setup now.
Grab your 5 bags of moss and get to town! Don’t spread this sparingly; pack as much moss in as you’ve got. Its very important that this is thick. You want your stems to be lodged in the moss and hydrated. Too loose and your stems may stay but they won’t get as much hydration.
Once every area feels full and even, lay the other grid on top of the moss. Grab more zip ties and connect the spacers to the top grid. Try adding one on one side then adding one on the opposite side for an even and super tight grid. Ensure your zip ties are rotated to the outside of the spacer- so your top grid can be cinched down right on top of the spacer.
Step 6: Water and Flower Prep
You’re almost done! Have someone help you move this outside or somewhere you don’t mind getting a lot of water on the floor. “Is it heavy,” you ask? Yes.
Take your hose and drench the whole thing so that every area is dripping water onto the floor. Do it a few more times. You’ll want to give the moss a chance to really absorb as much water as possible. You can also pre-soak your moss before adding to the grid. That way you have full moss absorption but it is messier. We went for the less messy option this time.
Prep your flowers, cutting the stems to about 3″-4″ long.
Step 7: Make it a FLOWER Wall!
Add in those darn flowers and foliage and consider yourself a Flower Wall Extraordinaire! The moss should keep it moist for a full day and probably longer, but I would test it in your neck of the woods to be sure.
Although not necessary, you may want to build a boarder around it as we did with leftover bio-board and some wrapping paper.
Some additional notes:
- Timing: You can make this in advance but I would add a bit of flower glue to each stem to be sure it doesn’t dislodge in transport. I typically add greens in the shop and add all the flowers in on site.
- We’ve done this wall 3 times and I am ALWAYS impressed with how long the flowers last. They typically look great the next day and most of the flowers still look great days later. I include some images of what the flowers look like after two days squished in my hot van after the summit. You will be amazed. I am still conservative in adding flowers too far in advance but . I would urge you to test a patch in your area.
- Super thirsty flowers may not be a good idea for this wall type- though you can always tube your flowers and that works well. Particular species that I don’t use in this wall are Hydrangea, raspberry foliage, sweet pea, or any other herbaceous, soft stemmed flower or foliage.
- How much does this cost? Simply put, lots. Sign up for our Flower posse and we’ll go over that. If you’ve liked this information, you’ll like what you get as a part of our inner circle.
THE FLOWER POSSE!
I think you’re going to love this wall.
Thanks for reading!
Make Your Own Crown with Worbla
Hey beehive! As a creator of flowery, arty things, I often find myself stumbling upon new materials to work with.
Worbla just so happens to be one of those things that I saw and *could not* not buy. One thing I love about using different materials is that it constantly pushes the boundaries of what I think I am capable of and inspires the Queen Bee in me to be proud of the things I am able to make.
Both the flower crown here and the collar are made with a worbla base and covered in leaves and flowers. Raise your hand if you love leaves as scales. (I feel the wind of a thousand hands:)
Worbla is fantastic for many reasons, mainly:
- Its non-toxic
- You don’t have to be a super skilled crafts(wo)man to work with it. If you’ve ever dried your hair or stuck a sticker on something (not necessarily in that order) then you are good:)
- The only tool needed is a heat gun
- Scraps/mess-ups can be heated, molded back together and then used again!
For this styled shoot, we used this material to construct her crown and flared collar. We figured that this Queen Bee was going to be a force to be reckoned with so she had to bring something to the table that your average gardeny flower crown-wearing bohemian bee might not. I mean, the world can use a different flower crown. mmmmmm-iright?
Now that you’re feeling like you’re ready to push your flower crown boundaries, buzz on over to our Youtube Channel by clicking on the picture below and make your own with us!
Want to be a part of our busy bee circle? We are working up some sweet things for you! Add your e-mail below and gain access to my hour long floral demonstration where I explain the complete breakdown of centerpiece arrangements- all foam free. Oh, and you’ll also get updates on new DIY projects! Pretty sweet.
Hair and Makeup by Off White Makeup and Beauty
Dress by Laineemeg Bridal
Styling, flowers, stuff, and photography by Lola Creative
DIY Chic Billy Ball Bouquet – Video
Honey, I’m home! Something about this atypical billy ball bouquet inspires the DIY queen in me. Perhaps because I’ve grown up with honeybees, but maybe because ‘atypical’ is my jam. If you’re like me, you’ll love to get your hands on some billy balls and take a whack at this fun pollen-esque bouquet.
If you’ve never made a bouquet, have no fear! This is a great one to start out with because of the simplicity. Plus, we have supplied a quick three minute video below with step by step instructions!
The materials include:
-about 75 stems of Crespedia
-1″ thick yellow ribbon
-1 piece of chenille
Billy balls, billy buttons, or woolly heads– whatever you title these tiny flowers, crespedia is a known favorite of mine. So much so that we also decked out this crazy collar with them!
Now its time to buzz on over to our Youtube Channel (don’t forget to subscribe!), or click the video below and get to building your bouquet! Don’t forget to show us your creations!
Join the Bad Ass Bee Club that is Curious Lola by typing in your email below. You’ll immediately unlock some precious honey, a.k.a. a super thorough centerpiece demonstration and you’ll be first to know when our next DIY projects are up, how sweet of us!
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Every now and then, I pull together a project just because it sounds like a good idea (among other totally practical and business boss-like reasons (cough)). Only later can I actually put my finger on why it is so special to me.
This feature, is one of those. Introducing our Queen Bee wedding photo shoot about a regal, singular, badass bee siting atop her throne of flowers.
It’s all part of our new DIY series that starts with an inspiration shoot, and continues with a series of how-to videos about various creations featured in the shoot. For this shoot, we will be showing you how to make:
A modern pollen bouquet (okay they’re billy balls)
An impressive (and eco-conscious) flower wall throne- yes, it’s a wall, not really an actual throne. See how awesome that is?!
And a pollen crown….. because well, we can all use a new type of flower crown. And it’s a good thing because this queen bee bride eats bohemian vibes for second breakfast. She just pierces them on the end of her sharp little nail….. Doesn’t even blink… just gobbled on up.
We’ll add the links as they get finished up! But if you sign up to our newsletter, you get the videos in advance- plus bonus info about blunders and triumphs related to business, flower recipes, and more.
But for now, a story about bees.
If you didn’t already know, my parents owned a lavender farm. On that farm was rows of lavender, and among those rows were bee hives tended by a local beekeeper. Now, bees love flowers, but they especially love lavender and all purple flowers for that matter. Their visual spectrum of light is such that they can see ultraviolet light beyond the violet that we can see. It’s this type of light they are most drawn too. The point is, during peak flowering season, the fields are awash with bees partying on their favorite food. Literally hundreds of bees thumping drunkenly into your head, and crawling all over every bush. Harvesting one bunch of lavender can yield 15 bees in your hand.
The bees are so drunk on pollen that you can simply brush them off. They will lazily plop off and zoom over to another bush. In years of helping with lavender harvest, I’ve never been stung by these bees. Not once.
What’s more amazing, however, is the sheer level of noise they can produce. Sitting between rows of lavender at peak season will bring you to a secret world where all sound is lost but buzz and the only thing that is important is the work of the bees. Feed the queen, feed the family, take care of each other, everybody do their part- that is the work of bees.
This is also where I first heard of colony collapse disorder from our beekeeper who was losing half his queens.
In colony collapse, for a number of reasons about which researchers can’t seem to agree, the worker daughters leave the hive and disappear, leaving the community to starve. There’s been a lot of research since my initial introduction to colony collapse but the beekeeper was convinced it was because of selective bee breeding.
Honeybees had been bred to be good workers and docile. When all the bees (or anything for that matter) have a similar genetic makeup, they are susceptible to the same infections and diseases. Yet another reason to celebrate diversity.
At the time, our beekeeper was seeking out new queens from far off places that were feistier, fiercer, and hopefully with that, better at fighting off disease.
This shoot is dedicated to those fiesty queens keeping their family together:)
Oh! Thanks for reading all the way through. Here are our friendors who were crucial to this shoot!
Photography: Lola Creative
Creative Direction, Styling, and Floral Props: Lola Creative
Hair and Makeup: Off White Makeup and Beauty
Cake: Honey Crumb Cake Studio
Dress: LaineeMeg Bridal
Model: Cheyenne with Seattle Talent
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