As part of our ongoing "Analog Living" series focused on community, creativity, and the things that inspire us both in our home and in our lives, we ventured out to the abode of Schoolhouse friend, Willow Greene. A graphic designer and photographer turned florist, Willow invited us to see her charming space and watch her create one of her beautiful, vivid arrangements.
Below, we chat with Willow about florals, what's currently inspiring her, and the ins and outs of her creative process when it comes to creating her stunning works of art.
Your floral arrangements are so bright, colorful, and fun, which is something that we all really admire about your work! What initially drew you to start experimenting with flower arranging, and what do you love most about it?
Thank you so much, I’m honored! I’ve always been obsessed with flowers, but I think living in Portland, after being in a desert focused landscape for so long blew my mind with how many different kinds of incredible flowers exist.
I was following a few modern florists online and very excited to try my hand at arranging flowers, in an experimental, more art focused way. Last winter, with some encouragement from my boyfriend I gave it a go and have been hooked ever since.
I studied graphic design in college and have been working as a designer and photographer ever since. My design training and experience made the transition into florals seamless. Color theory, texture, and visual balance feels like a universal language to me and I’ve been able to translate those skills into florals. There are so many things I love about being a florist, but what I love most is how playful it is, and how it makes me feel connected to nature and the changing seasons.
Can you tell us a little bit about your creative process?
I’m constantly dreaming about flowers. I'm always thinking about which new flower I want to try working with next, what's in season, which flowers are my go-to’s. Sometimes I go to the market with an intention to buy a certain color palette or type of flower. Other times I look for which flowers are speaking to me the most. I can’t help but gravitate towards the funky, curly stems. Once I’m home I prep the flowers for arranging and get started.
My creative process for larger events and weddings has a lot more structure, where I plan out the look and feel for each deliverable item and create a “palette” so to speak, of the flowers I will be working with. I start with general inspiration from the client and extract different elements to create their dream floral landscape.
"I can’t help but gravitate towards the funky, curly stems."
Are there any tricks of the trade that you can share when it comes to floral arranging?
My biggest tip in keeping your flowers fresh and happy is to make sure there are no leaves or petals in the water. This helps prevent bacteria from growing and will make your flowers last much longer.
Always trim the stems at a 45 degree angle after you bring your flowers home and place them in fresh water. You can elevate and increase the size of your bouquet of roses or tulips 10x by gently reflexing the petals backwards to show more of the flower. It’s a game changer!
Lastly, since it is ranunculus season, if your stem has bent and flopped over, you can gently thread floral wire up the stem to help it stand up again.
We would love to hear a little bit about what's currently inspiring you right now! Can you tell us what you've been drawn to recently?
Lately I’ve been really inspired by music, in particular the new album by Caroline Polachek (Desire, I want to turn into you). I dream of designing florals for (or inspired by) musicians. I love everything about her album, from the visuals to the vocals to the songwriting. Many of the songs were written while she was traveling through Italy, visiting volcanos and sunny beaches. I’m dying to make an arrangement inspired by it.
Lastly, flower arranging is a very analog process, so I'd love to hear more about what the word "analog" means to you? How does it show up throughout the rest of your life?
I feel like most of my life has been very analog. I grew up attending Waldorf School’s for most of my education, which is a very analog learning environment. We would create our own textbooks by drawing, painting, and writing essays. It was very focused on doing things by hand. I’m grateful I had that experience and it’s shaped a lot of my interests and how I show up in the world. It also made me very crafty. Lately, I’ve been working on repurposing an old quilt into a jacket for myself and making needle felted animals as gifts.
To me, analog means slow, tactile, deliberate, and simple.
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