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
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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A Letter to Spring- From A Restless Moth Fairy- Photoshoot
Dear Springtime and Sunshine,
Not sure if you know, but it’s time to wake up, shake off the rain and get to shining.
These ups and downs of weather have me feeling a little restless. If I’m not able to get outside and play in the sun soon, I may develop a hunchback from all the slouching.
My house is feeling less ‘inspiring nest’ and more ‘bat cave’ by the day. I need to get out of here. Like all the flowers, I am straining my neck toward you, I’m looking for you, and I’m tired.
Springtime? Sun? Are you guys not talking to each other? Did winter not set the clock for you?
Since I saw you last, I planted all my bulbs, read stories to all my bulbs, told them all about you, and now they are waiting for you, too. I’ve dusted my special things, I’ve made this crazy chandelier with all the gifts you gave me from last year.
I arranged flowers, I baked you treats, and still you don’t come.
I sent you an invite to my tea party, yet still you don’t come.
I just want you to know that I’m ready. Bring on the gardening, flower tending, humming under fresh leaved trees, twirling in the grass, let’s do this!
With so much love and affection,
Enjoy these goodies from our recent Moth Fairy Shoot this Spring. This is part of our new endeavor to bring you inspiring (sometimes weird) shoots paired with DIYs for some of the pieces we’ve included. Be inspired, then build your own. You like this concept? Fantastic! Sign up to be sure you get all of them in your inbox:) See the links to the specific DIYs at the bottom.
Hey, We made videos of how to make FOUR items in this photoshoot! Perhaps you’d like to see?
Thank you to all the folks who partnered with us on this shoot!
Hair and Makeup Offwhite Makeup and Beauty
Furnishings: Vintage Ambiance
Photography, Creative Direction, Set and Props, Styling, Floral: Lola Creative for Curious Lola
Gorgeous Local Flowers: Seattle Wholesale Growers Market
Warm fuzzies for you and yours.
It’s that time of year when we are balls to the walls busy (I recently learned that that term is an aviation thing- so is totally not what you were thinking). But in between making sure all is made, all is packed, all is ready to be set up for a big, glorious bash, we have glimpses into next year. What we want to work on. We’ve got big plans that will help your event design biz get a leg up (ehem, sign up to stay in the loop).
But first, there is a break. A small amount of time where there is nothing. Just slathering love all over my friends and family. Investing in relationships. And my brain will be happy for that break.
So in the spirit of break. Let’s reminisce on the sweet images from a styled photoshoot of winter’s past coupled with one of my favorite poems. Thank you Candice of Ivy and Tweed for a visual story of these two love birds. (ps, for styled shoots, get people that are actually in love). Shot at Trinity Tree Farms in Issaquah, Washington.
“I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)I am never without it (anywhere I go you go,my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
I fear no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet) I want no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)”
― E.E. Cummings
Happy Holidays, friends! Here’s to our winter break before the excitement of a new year.
Thanks also to Vintage Ambiance for the furnishings, and Honeycrumb Cake studio for the yummies.