For the fourth consecutive year, Slow Flowers will commission designer-flower farmer creative teams to transform popular, American-grown flowers and foliages into Couture Fashion Looks for American Flowers Week!
We’ve been working behind-the-scenes with a fabulous group of Slow FlowersMembers around the U.S. to envision the “collection” for 2019.
A few of the looks have already been produced and photographed; a few more photo sessions are on the calendar later this fall; and in warmer climates like Florida and California, looks will be designed and photographed over the winter months into early spring.
You’ll be the first to see the entire AFW 2019 Botanical Fashion Collection — we promise!
Being featured in Florists’ Review is one bonus for our participants and a wonderful change to promote local and seasonal botanicals AND your growing & design talents!
The series will first appear in the June 2019 issue of Florists’ Review, followed by many other platforms and channels. In fact, we’ll share American Flowers Week badges for you to download free and use in your own promotion and branding.
Until then, help thank, congratulate and celebrate our Designer Dream Teams:
Rayne Grace Hoke, with model and friend Mary Yarumian, on location at Johnny’s Seeds in Winslow Maine.
Rayne Grace Hoke of Florasmuse partnered with our very own sponsor, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, to create a stunning gown embellished with field-grown flowers, herbs and ornamental grains — harvested from Johnny’s famous trial gardens in Winslow, Maine.
Eileen Tongson of FarmGal Flowers, based in Orlando, is teaming up with Jana Register and the fern and foliage farmers from FernTrust in Seville to interpret a glam-greenery look.
Our very own Jenny M. Diaz, the artist and graphic designer who’s responsible for all of the American Flowers Week branding, is bringing her fashionista vibe to a botanical couture look using flowers from Dramm & Echter Farm.
Beth Syphers (left) and Bethany Little (right)
Beth Syphers of Crowley House and Bethany Little of Charles Little & Co., two farmer-florists and good friends are collaborating on a sassy 1950s-60s floral ensemble!
Heather Grit of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Heather Grit of Glamour and Grit Floral is pulling together a creative team to produce a winter wonderland look ~ so Michigan, right?! Her theme: locally-grown ferns and greens.
Laura Mewbourn (left) and Toni Reale (right, with Debra Prinzing)
Two talents who are 100% committed to locally-grown flowers are teaming up for an uniquely Southern-inspired project. Laura Mewbourn of Feast & Flora Farm, a farmer-florist, and floral designer Toni Reale of Roadside Blooms envision a botanical look that reflects and respects the history of their region.
MORE TO COME . . . It’s no surprise that we’ve had more submissions for participants (floral designers and flower farmers) who really, really, want to participate in the 2019 Floral Couture Collection. And with so many talented creatives, we’re finding it super hard to say “no,” so stay tuned for more announcements!
P.S., EVERYONE is invited to conjure their own American Flowers Week botanical couture wearable, because we hope to flood social media with #americanflowersweek goodness come June 28-July 4! Let your imagination go wild!
I’ve known Josie through the local floral community, including my floral designer friend Anne Bradfield of Floressence, for whom Josie has worked. But Josie’s real talent is illustration and printmaking. Anne gifted me a framed print by Josie, which I cherish.
And the more I followed her Instagram feed, and watched how creatively she plays with palettes, patterns and depth, I couldn’t wait to see what Josie might do with a red-white-and-blue floral theme.
Slow Flowers’ 2019 American Flowers Week artwork by Josephine Rice
Ever since I first saw Josie’s graphic, playful, polychromatic, floral-patterned illustrations, I’ve been glued to her Instagram feed.
Josephine Rice, our American Flowers Week artist, photographed recently on a trip to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.
I just love how her stylized flowers, buds, vines, leaves, pods and petals add up to something so visually mesmerizing and pleasing to the eye.
What she sees in a three-dimensional flower inspires her two-dimensional art. Her drawings are far from literal, but they convey the personality and attribute of each element beautifully.
Together, the hundreds of small botanical shapes that appear in Josie’s compositions are bold, engaging — and very much dimensional. I’m fascinated with her color sensibility, her use of thin and thick black lines to define each shape, the patterns created by layering cutouts of plant parts, and then . . . the final expression in a print you can frame.
That’s why I wanted to commission Josie to create our 2019 American Flowers Week branding. I’m unveiling it here, reveling in the quirky red-white-and-blue palette that is so joyous and uplifting.
Mind you, Josie’s take on red-white-and-blue is a modern twist on the conventional patriotic colors. In the botanical world, flowers themselves change color throughout a single season, so I thoroughly appreciate how our artist has reimagined traditional flag colors in a new, inventive way.
I recently met Josie for an extended face-to-face interview and I’m sharing part of our conversation to introduce you to this ingenious artist. You can download your own badges and graphics to add to your social media as you begin planning and promoting American Flowers Week in your market.
Debra: Tell us about your early relationship with art.
Josie (laughing): When I was a kid, my preschool teacher told my parents that I was gifted in art. I was drawing faces with all the facial features when I was very young — ones that are normally left out in children’s drawings.
Debra: When did you start seeing yourself as an artist or wanting to pursue art in your life?
Josie: I always wanted to paint and draw and be creative. In high school, I was determined to be a painter. I was very determined to have a “not normal” life. I did not want to sit behind a desk. I would do anything to not go down that road.
This is one of Josie’s earlier works that that inspired our 2019 American Flowers Week design.
Debra: Where did you go to school?
Josie: I went to Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, a small art school. I started in integrated studio arts, which was mixed media-fine arts. But really rapidly, I started getting panic attacks. Basically, I hated that I had to explain everything. Every week we had multiple critiques about, “why did you do this?” and “why did you do that?” I wanted to say: “I didn’t have reasons. I just drew it.” It was like I had to have a big story, a big political statement or some deep poetic thing, and I couldn’t explain myself that way.
Debra: Isn’t that sad, that that’s what the teacher wanted from you?
Josie: Yes, and I see now how it all turned out okay, but at the same time, I was feeling like maybe I shouldn’t be doing painting. Maybe I should get a degree in something that would help me get a job.
Debra: What did you do?
Josie: I changed to interior architecture and I graduated with a BFA in 2010. I really enjoyed it. I loved model making. I just wanted to use my hands. I loved using my hands. And yet, I also found that the craft had turned into AutoCAD and I would have literally lived my life behind a computer screen doing AutoCAD and drafting — and that made me just want to die.
Debra: So how did you wrap up college?
Josie: At thesis time, I wanted to do my thesis on a tree house. I wanted to build a tree house and I proposed this whole project to my teacher, and he said: “I really don’t think you should do that. I think it’s cool, but maybe you should focus on something that’s going to help you in the real world.” It was the stupidest mistake ever. I like what I did for my thesis instead, though. I designed a hostel that was inspired by my first big trip. I went to the Galapagos Islands.
Debra: What did you do after college?
Josie: I graduated feeling really disheartened that if I could even get a job, I was going to be doing AutoCAD. The economy was down. Jobs weren’t really happening for a lot of people and honestly, I think there are only two people from my major who are working in the field. I ended up working at a restaurant that was like my family in Wisconsin.
Debra: Did you ever get back to tree houses?
Josie: I went on a West Coast tour with my sister — we stopped in Seattle and Vancouver and Oregon — all along the coast. I’d always had a fantasy about coming out this way — it was just my hippie dream. After I was back in Wisconsin, and I remember this very vividly because I had just gotten dumped, I opened my tree house book. Seriously, the page dropped open and I read this: “Come to our tree house workshop in Issaquah, Washington.” I remember thinking: “I’m going.” I had not given up on tree houses yet.
Debra: Did you go?
Josie: Yes. It was Pete Nelson’s Tree House Workshop at Tree House Point. In recent years, I think he is now focused on a television show on Animal Planet, so I got lucky because it was one of the last years he held workshops. After that, and after being around the mountains and the forest, which was amazing, I had to move to Washington. So I saved up; I had a boyfriend at the time and I told him, “I’m moving to Washington.” and he decided to come with me. We drove across the country; we had no plan and started running out of money fast.
Debra: What year was that?
Note the intricate botanical detailing in one of Josie’s compositions.
Josie: It was 2012. And at that time, I was feeling very alone in the city and I didn’t know people. I didn’t have a job and I didn’t have money to spend going out, so I sat in my apartment and started painting. I always had my art supplies, and I would doodle around with them. But during those first couple of months in Seattle, I thought, “I want to be an artist and there’s nothing for me to do other than paint.”
Debra: How did you support yourself?
Josie: I looked for a job, couldn’t find anything because I had tried everything in my power to not work at a restaurant any more. I got hired at Bed, Bath & Beyond. I remember leaving the first day and I was so pissed off. I thought, “I just graduated and the only job I can get is a minimum-wage job at Bed, Bath and Beyond.”
Debra: You poor thing.
Josie: I remember going online and searching any place where I could display my art. I got lucky to connect with a place called Venue in Seattle, which showed my art. I was new to making art and it was nothing like what I make now. But even then, I was making flowers. I always did flowers. I somehow can’t draw anything else. I just have a very specific style and I can only do it that way.
I love this image of some of Josie’s favorite flowers and the artwork they inspired.
Debra: What is your preferred medium?
Josie. Gouache. I had always liked gouache and that’s what I still work in now.
Debra: Describe gouache to me.
Josie: I would call it a thick acrylic. Basically, instead of getting those watermarks, your goal is to make a flat, saturated, solid color — and I was just drawn to that.
Debra: That matte effect you create is so compelling. I could just stare at it all day.
Josie: Thank you.
More about the process of gouache painting on top of floral shapes drawn with a black Sharpie
Debra: I actually thought you used colored paper and cut it out — but you’re painting on the paper.
Josie: At one point, I was cutting out paper. Yeah, that was actually a short period of time — another heartbreak and I had nothing to do. So I was in my apartment, cutting up solid colors of paper and I realized I had these really cool designs, but I couldn’t tape up pieces of paper to the wall. That’s not going to work. I was so concerned with, well, “how am I going to hang this on a wall?” So I started painting on paper.
Debra: It sounds like the difference between the craft and the art, you now?
Josie: Yes, I wanted to make a tangible piece of art that a person could buy. I was very concerned with “how am I going to sell this?” I don’t know why I cared who I was going to sell it to. Then, I just kind of put it on the back burner and said, “Why don’t you just let it be fun? Stop ruining the fun part of this.”
Debra: That’s really good advice for anybody, really.
Josie: There’s the level of trying to make it your living, and then also letting go a bit.
Debra: Right, and finding your voice in all of that.
Josie: Yes, and don’t think it’s all over the second you start. I have no idea what my art is going to look like in five years. I can’t wait to see.
Debra: So you started having more fun with your art, but how did you get it out into the world?
Josie: By then, I think it was 2013, I had moved to Crate & Barrel, where I was a furniture saleswoman. But I was a horrible salesperson. I was literally selling couches and didn’t even own a couch! I had an empty apartment with a futon in it.
Debra: You were the anti-salesperson.
Josie: I was just so miserable. Kickstarter had become a new thing, and I had poked around on the site. I found myself thinking, “who are these people asking for money to work on their art?” There was one in particular that I saw, who, in my opinion, was not anything very good. And this person raised a bunch of money. I was just flabbergasted and I thought, “I can do that.” So I put up a Kickstarter campaign. Somehow it actually worked and I raised the money.
Debra: Wow! What was your campaign?
Josie: I said I wanted to raise $3,000 to focus on art for a summer. To have time to work on my art and put on an art show. It was amazing. I felt so loved by the people who supported me. It really changed my mindset that people want artists; people want you to pursue your craft. It was like Christmas morning when I raised the money.
Debra: Where was your show?
Josie: It was at Venue. I rented out the place and invited people. And we had a night of my art. It was sweet.
One of Josie’s local murals, showing the beautiful connections between her large-scale and small-scale artwork.
Debra: What happened next?
Josie: I had quit Crate & Barrel, so I got hired as a waitress at a restaurant where I worked while still making my art. During this time, I started making murals. Being a mural artist has always been a fantasy of mine, but I realized there was no way I was ever going to get a mural job unless I had a portfolio of murals. So, I put out an ad on Craigslist, and offered: “I will do a mural for free for you. I will pay for the mural if you have a wall.” I got lucky and a few people wanted me to do a mural. They let me do insane rainbow stuff.
Debra: Your murals were on garage doors and sides of buildings, right?
Josie: Yes, and they were so fun. I met the nicest people who were looking in the artist section on Craigslist, willing to let me paint their building.
Debra: What came out of the mural work?
Josie: I got this idea, “I love flowers so much; why don’t I work in flowers?” That just clicked one day and because I also love travel, I thought, “if I’m going to go to a workshop, I’m going to travel at the same time.” I ended up taking a two-week workshop on The Business of Flowers at Judith Blacklock’s Flower School in Knightsbridge, London. That was three years ago and when I came back, I just cold-called everybody in Seattle looking for a floral job.
Debra: Where did you land?
Josie: I went to work for Anne Bradfield of Floressence in Seattle. It worked out wonderfully to have Anne take me under her wing. She was so patient with me. At least I knew art and I knew design and I knew what looked good and what doesn’t look good.
Debra: How did your art change because of working with flowers?
Josie: Before I even went to the London workshop, I would go to the public hours at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market. I was drawing flowers and I needed inspiration, so I would go there and snap a bunch of pictures and buy just one bundle of something. It was so amazing. I remember being there one day and taking home Icelandic poppies, which were, to me, the most special thing I’d ever seen. I also ended up working part-time at the Market, while also working for Floressence and making art. I was getting so much inspiration at the Market. I was seeing things I’d never seen before. You don’t see those flowers on the street. I began to focus on different palettes or whatever is in season at the Market.
Debra: Where are you now with your art?
Josie: The work I am creating happens when I forget about “how am I going to sell this?” and instead focus on “I just like drawing. I just like painting on paper and making paper cutouts. I make little pieces of paper and over time I have hundreds of them. Then I layer them together. It looks beautiful and who cares if I sell it or not? Maybe all I care about is that it looks cool to share a glimmer of beauty on the Internet.
Debra: In a way, there’s a thread between the murals I saw on your web site and the prints you’re doing now.
Josie: Oh yeah. It’s all about the line. That’s what I have going for me. My line. Everything starts with the Sharpie. I love Sharpie. I start by sketching flowers with a black Sharpie, which often looks like a doodle. Then I paint the whole page. Then, my favorite part is adding tiny details of the black line and cutting out the shapes.
Josephine Rice at Surtex 2018
Debra: One of the first times I met you, you mentioned wanting to exhibit at SURTEX in New York. I looked it up: SURTEX is a big trade show for artists to sell original art and design. That’s where you exhibit your work to agents, licensors, manufacturers and retailers who are looking for art to make wall coverings, patterns, decorative accessories, bed linens, stationery, giftware, apparel and more.
Josie: Yes and I’d been thinking about going for two years. It seemed very daunting but I knew I had to do it. It was this past May and I was in the First-Timer’s Area. My mom went with me and it’s so awesome to have parents who want me to pursue my dreams.
Debra: How did SURTEX go for you?
Josie: I felt confident that yes, I have something good here. It felt good to know I have a style and somehow that style has developed. In fact, I was commissioned to make a design for a client, which will be out soon. SURTEX showed me that yes, you can sell your art to businesses. But could also be your own business.
Debra: What else did you learn about yourself by taking that huge leap?
Josie: I used to think it was really wrong to take photos of a flower and then draw it later. Then I realized that process actually goes with the way I work, because my work is flat and I’ve simplified what I’m drawing. The paper cutouts give my work a 3D look. Now I’m exploring starting my own line, maybe a line of journals.
Debra: Josie, I’m so glad you made a piece for American Flowers Week.
Kelly Shore Hosts American Flowers Week Interactive Flower Crown Party and Farm Tour
In honor of American Flowers Week, one East Coast florist hosted her second annual Flower Crown Party, inspiring over 50 attendees to M&M Plants and Flower Farm in Dickerson, Maryland on June 27, 2018, leading up to the week-long domestic flower promotion campaign that has taken place annually from June 28 to July 4, since 2015.
Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore in the Washington, D.C., area coordinated a farm tour and flower crown-making party complete with live band, potluck-style refreshments, and professional photographer.
Partygoers co-mingle among the blooms, picking their favorites to assemble their unique, freeform crowns and arrangements. (c) Erin Tetterton Photography
For Kelly, the party was more than a mingling opportunity; it was a way for flower enthusiasts to develop a keen understanding of where flowers come from and how much work it takes for American farmers to bring their product to market.
“Even though it’s a fun event, we plant the seeds so that the next time [attendees] are at a farmers’ market and see a flower stand, they know more about how farmers grow those flowers — and it might make them more inclined to make a purchase,” she says. “Visibility is key. This is why American Flowers Week is so important.”
American Flowers Week signage adorns the Flower Crown Party flower bar at M&M Plants and Flowers. (c) Erin Tetterton Photography
For the sake of teaching the attendees about the plethora of varieties available from domestic flower farms, the designer steered away from classics such as alstroemeria and roses, focusing more on textural blooms that the attendees wouldn’t normally think of, such as raspberries, strawflower, and Veronica.
After completing their designs, the flower fanatics posed for professional shots of their creations. (c) Erin Tetterton Photography
“People immersed themselves in the challenge and tried different botanical textures. No one’s flower crown was the same,” Kelly says. “It was a hands-on workshop, and I didn’t want it to be ‘cookie cutter.’ I wanted participants to feel empowered to explore and enjoy the experience of being creative with flowers.”
Kelly and her team set up a ‘flower bar’ with buckets of blooms grouped together by color and variety, which encouraged attendees to choose at their will. Attendees ranged from florists and farmer-florists to hobbyists and even a horticulture teacher from a local high school – and each tapped into their creative side, constructing flower crowns, hair combs, and petite bouquets. The flower bar allowed the DIY florists to be cognizant of their choices and feel ownership over their designs.
“I gave a tutorial showing two different styles of flower crowns, but people didn’t have to do it my way,” Kelly explains. “There were no rules. Someone made a floral necklace and it was awesome; I embraced it. People in our society don’t often stop to be creative, but at this party, they were out in nature, having a euphoric experience.”
I am enamored by the flower farming community; by all of the tedious, hard work behind producing an incredible final product. People do this because it’s what they love to do. It’s really about supporting families, and the more I connect with people, the more important it is to me to support this community.
Along with the party, attendees also enjoyed a tour of M&M Plants & Flowers, led by farmer Madgie McGaughan. The productive floral enterprise is a fully functioning farm devoted to the sale of plants and flowers, Kelly and her hosts wanted to attendees to gain an inside look into the strenuous labor that goes into planting and harvesting fresh, local and seasonal blooms.
The Flower Crown Party has become her favorite event of the summer. “We wanted to paint a real picture of what flower farming is actually like. It is so life-affirming,” she says.
Andrea K. Grist Hosts Girls’ Night Out Design Workshop
Rosco’s Fresh Cut Flowers provided their healthiest, most beautiful blooms for the event, giving the arrangements a “straight-from-the-garden” feel.
Enjoying light hors d’oeuvres in Midtown Kansas City’s stylish, naturally-lit Market Studio, floral designer and speaker Andrea K. Gristand 20 flower enthusiasts chatted about the importance of American Flowers Week while constructing freeform-style arrangements.
On June 29th, 2018, Grist taught a popular Girls’ Night Out floral design workshop with The Bloom Academy, which asked her to host the event during American Flowers Week. Andrea shared with guests the importance of using locally-grown blooms in their floral arrangements, focusing on popular design techniques to create more freeform, natural centerpieces full of texture and whimsy.
For her Girls Night Out workshop, Grist and her students played with colorful, textural blooms in their freeform designs.
“We talked a lot about color theory and the design that seems to be popular now, which is more textural, full of color, and asymmetrical,” Andrea says. “I encouraged participants to allow the stems to follow a natural bend; everyone had fun with their designs, because they weren’t stuck in limiting parameters.”
Using blooms provided by Rosco’s Fresh Cut Flowersin Kansas City, Missouri, Andrea and her students enjoyed designing with farm-grown flowers, incorporating the leaves and foliage and creating arrangements cohesive with the “natural, American-grown” look that reflects the beauty of using straight-from-the-garden flowers. According to Andrea, many of the attendees were already familiar with American Flowers Week, which showed her that the phenomenon “seems to be the New Thing.”
Andrea worked with the farmers at Rosco’s to select the best of the best for her Girls’ Night Out workshop: just-picked peonies, Asiatic lilies, zinnias, dahlias, cosmos, and other vivid blooms.
Instead of focusing on one palette, the instructor explained to her attendees that when buying from local farms, florists must adapt and trust that farmers will supply the best blooms of the moment. In this way, Andrea taught that beautiful arrangements can based on personal taste, artistic creativity, and flexibility.
“I stuck to basic design principles, used American-grown flowers, and used chicken wire instead of foam to continue with the sustainability theme,” she adds.
Slow Flowers contributor, Mackenzie Nichols is a freelance writer and experienced floral designer. She writes regularly for the Society of American Florists’ Floral Management magazine, and her work also appears in The Boston Globe, The American Gardener, Canadian Florist, and Tastemakers music magazine. She interned with MSNBC, Donna Morgan, and The American Horticultural Society and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a minor in Music Industry from Northeastern University. Mackenzie worked as a floral designer for Fern Flowers in Boston’s Back Bay Area, and Tiger Lily Florist, the top flower shop in Charleston, South Carolina. She lives in Manhattan’s East Village.