The Story Behind The City-Wide Cherry Blossom in SeattleFeb 10, 2021
With spring around the corner and my new paper flower tutorial being released, I’ve had cherry blossoms on my mind.
Three years ago I created cherry blossom installations for six stores in Seattle—a huge undertaking that taught me many lessons. To help artists like you along your paper flower journey, I want to share the story behind those installations and the wisdom I gained.
My love of this tiny five-petal blossom started when I was a small child and first saw a cherry tree bloom. I was standing under the branches when it started to softly rain white petals all around me. Pure magic. That moment stayed with me over the years, but I never had an opportunity to really share that love until I started to make paper flowers.
Back in 2018, I had no active paper flower jobs and decided to take on a big project to really explore my love of paper crafting and my love of this tiny blossom. I made hundreds of cherry blossoms. I started to make cherry blossoms in tiny realistic sizes and larger-than-life fanciful blooms. I experimented with crepe like never before, from coloring to constructing. My skill level increased with every flower, and for the first time I started feeling comfortable calling myself an artist.
Little did I know that these cherry blossoms would bloom into a giant project I could have never anticipated.
I reached out to six stores around the Seattle area and asked if they would like to display my cherry blossoms for free. To my surprise, each store owner said yes! To meet the demand, I made over 10,000 blossoms in two months. I was fortunate to have Kelly Lemon Photography help me kick off my city-wide cherry blossom undertaking with an amazing styled shoot at Fran’s Chocolates.
At the time, I had to rush to get everything done, but now I’ve had time to reflect on my experience. Here’s what I did well and what I learned to do better:
Be conscious of your body
I literally cut hundreds of stamens for the center of each cherry blossom. These repetitive motions really did a number on my arm. I had to go to PT for several months afterward to repair the damage. I should have paused and listened to my body when it sent out warning signs.
Ask for help
Sometimes calling for help is essential. I had several amazing friends that helped contribute to the overall making of the cherry blossoms. Some cut paper, some helped me install the final product, and others were simply present and cheering me on the day that I had my kick-off party at Fran’s Chocolates. I can’t tell you how grateful and amazed I am for their support, especially to my husband who let me spill my cherry blossom supplies all over our dining room table and house.
It never hurts to ask
I reached out to six stores with my cherry blossom idea, hoping that maybe one or even two would say yes. Imagine my shock when all six said yes! Many of us lack self-confidence. Don’t let that hold you back from trying. You’ll probably be happily surprised by the results.
Plan and plan again
Having a clear idea of what you want to do will make your life so much easier. I approached each store with an overall vision and plan of execution. This plan was written down and explained multiple times beforehand to my husband and close friends. I was able to clarify my thoughts and prepare to easily explain to the owners my vision. This resulted in them saying yes.
I also had a deadline to meet. I wanted to hold my kick-off part during the time that the real cherry blossoms would bloom. Sticking with a plan to get everything done meant that my kick-off party coincided with the beautiful trees outside showing off their blossoms. Very magical!
Of course, plans can change—like having way more people say yes than you expected—so be flexible and reassess as needed.
Think about how you plan to leverage all your hard work. One way I did this was through professional photos.
Besides the styled photoshoot of my installation, I also arranged a wedding shoot. It included a bride and groom, make-up artist, wedding dress and suit, and coordinating bridal bouquet and boutonniere to match the large paper floral installation at Fran’s Chocolate.
Not only was I able to get amazing photos that I use for my portfolio, but I still have new clients to this day who say, “I saw your paper flowers at Fran’s.” A lot of people will not purchase your product right then and there, but if you make an impression, they will remember you and will reach out when they have a special occasion or event.
Create an incentive
I created an Easter egg hunt to go along with the paper art exhibit. At each of the installations, I hid a chocolate egg. To win the grand prize, viewers had to find all six eggs at each of the exhibits. They posted pictures of the hidden eggs and tagged me and the corresponding store. The stores obviously liked the increase in foot traffic and helped contribute to the grand prize—making the prize even bigger and driving even more traffic to the stores and my work. Win for everyone.
If you undertake a big commercial installation, I know you can succeed by following these tips. I’d love to see your large installations or commercial work—plus any lessons that you learned that I didn’t touch on. Please share with me on Instagram @pinkandposey.
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