Real Art

As an artist, I have studied creative pursuits for as long as I have been practicing my craft. When I was little my mom recognized this in me and signed me up for every creative outlet that I could feasibly manage to complete.

I took watercolor, charcoal, photography, pottery, oils, cake decorating, photography, digital art, and sewing. When I got to high school I wanted to take a class at our local vocational center and I was struggling between the baking class and the floral design. My mother suggested I pursue the floral class. It’s one of the things I’m most thankful to have done. I learned everything I needed to get started in this beautiful industry. I was smitten. While still in school I landed an internship at a local upscale floral shop. Then moved on to work in several other flower shops, even as a manager for a while.  I quickly learned that each shop and even each designer has a very different way of working in this industry. When I had spent all those years learning art under a teacher there was always a right way and a wrong way to create. That was the purpose of the teacher. They were all providing me with knowledge and proficiency in the elements and principles of design. Those are the basics of any creative pursuit. You have to know how to create balance. You have to understand how colors work for and against each other. There are things that transcend all areas of art.

What I didn’t understand was the difference between the formal rules that defined my learning years and the creative, limitless, independent process that the best art lives in.

I enjoy “one right answer” and I love working a formula, or searching and pursuing the perfect answer. But in practicing good art, the rules should take a back seat and act as guidelines only. Real art starts when it flows from your heart and into your medium. Art is only great when it comes from your depths. When you can create something that others can feel and understand. Something that connects people on a deeper level than just the tools you're using. Your art should help people get to know you better. It should be vulnerable and real, honest and true to who you are.

When I’m trying to grow my skills and learn a different style I’ll often try to copy exactly what someone else has created. It’s good, but never as good as when I redo their design with my heart and looking to understand the specific flowers in my hand at the time. My copy of someone else’s work will never be as good as theirs. In design and in business there is not one person that has all the right answers. There are artists that can be incredibly helpful. But what has worked for them in their industry may not be what will work in yours. There is incredible freedom in knowing that you’re not making a mistake or are a failure if you can’t make someone else’s formula work for you. When I am learning a new skill I now try to get as many teachers as possible and take a little from each one to find a way to work that makes sense to my life and business. I no longer live in guilt that I’m not good enough because what I make looks different than what they’ve taught me, or thinking I have to design in a style I don’t love because other people have been successful doing it. Everyone who creates in the industry has a part in shaping what it becomes.

Samantha Hendrickson