Having been both a participant and an instructor at floral workshops, I’ve seen (or been) both the frustrated and the exalted. I’ve witnessed happiness and delight, but also tears and disappointment. With any intense collective human activity there’s bound to be drama, but flower workshops are both professional and expensive, so emotions ratchet up. Add the on-demand pressure of ‘being creative’ in a group setting and things can get complicated. Here is what I’ve learned:
1. If you want to be photographed, wear neutral colours or uniform ones. Consider yourself a backdrop.
2. Find a friend, fast. Offer to take pictures for someone and they’ll return the favour.
3. Don’t take yourself too seriously and have fun. Almost no one can manifest what they have learned immediately following a demo and even your instructor probably generated less than their best work under scrutiny.
4. Take risks with structure, but not necessarily colour. You’ll never find a more supportive atmosphere for busting out of old molds. The reason I’m cautious on colour: a workshop will have a palette established because it’s easier for beginners to succeed with a curated collection. New blooms + new colour combos + new techniques = too many variables. Make colour the one thing you can count on. Pick a favourite flower (or two) and build out an analogous scheme from there.
5. Finish your bouquet and centrepiece in a timely manner so your work can get in the photographer’s line-up. Trust me, you don’t want to be last—not that the photographer will do any less of a job, but the model may get tired and rightly choose to sit down after her tenth bouquet, but most importantly if you fuss too long you’ll miss the downtime you need to deal with your pictures, post, and prepare for the evening ahead.
6. There will come a point where you hate your work. Walk away from it for a bit. Cruise around and see what others are up to. If you’re really feeling the pressure, step outside or ask for a hug. Try to resist spiralling into private anxiety. Also, take a minute to touch base with yourself: Have you had enough water? Do you need to take your work somewhere quieter? If you move through a list and find you’re still struggling, then let one of the workshop assistants or instructors know. People are there to help you.
7. Try not to drink too much in the evenings. It’s absolutely thrilling to leave your life behind and be surrounded by other flower lovers and gab and gab and gab. But take it from me: Do I wish I’d slept more in the motel near Floret instead of dancing in glee with my earbuds on the first night? Perhaps.
8. Carry a day pack or tote with a pen, notebook, water bottle, a phone charger, personal whatnot, and absolutely everything you might need for ten hours on the semi-glamourous-go.
9. Trust that the universe will deliver the flowers you need. We all know the type that is first to the trough, elbowing in to hoard all the fashionable blooms du jour. Let her/him. They’ll find they don’t need them, or their work will be overblown or well…there’s no other way to say this—it will all work out. One of the key principles of working creatively is constraint. Too many options can stifle creativity. You’ll be faced with a vast buffet, so be grateful for limited options, appreciate what you have to work with, accept it, and begin. What you let go of might come back, but in the meantime you will have created something unique within a narrow range; you'll be on safer footing to innovate.
10. Think through your exit strategy. Do you have everyone’s contact information? Instagram handles for tagging? The name of that ribbon supplier? Do you have a means to get your flowers home? Go into your final day organized so you’re not scrambling or delayed upon your departure. You'll leave feeling calmer, more accomplished and complete.
And one extra tip one for the one person who got you there: Thank yourself. No matter what happens, I guarantee everything will change for the better after participating in a floral workshop (as you hoped it would).