Conscious Creativity at EMC Go LiveJul 01, 2021
Bringing creativity into action
Interview with Tomas de Bruyne
Excellence is a key word when it comes to describing the internationally renowned floral designer Tomas de Bruyne. He is by far one of the most talented and complex floral designers and educators today. Tomas is recognized internationally for creating exquisite floral art that leaves a strong imprint on people’s minds and brings any celebration to the next level. As a bespoke designer, he has always created tailored events in which he got inspired by his clients stories and materialised their abstract ideas into an expression of their unique personalities. As he says: ’’Every human being is unique. Why should a floral design be any different?’’
Traveling so much in different areas of the globe, he has enriched his design style with elements taken from all around the world, trying ’’to give his work a worldwide dimension with a European twist’’ and thinking of his self as a ’’global designer’’.
With over 20 years of experience build as a floral designer, educator, mentor, writer and speaker, he shares his knowledge and passion for flowers with students from around the world through a unique educational program - European Master Certification. His goal is to empower designers from all over the world to grow and expand their creativity.
The successful implementation and approach of Tomas de Bruyne’s teaching methods (ICE) is focused on creating a system that supports each student’s individual growth process and guides them on the path towards being a conscious creative. One of the most rewarding things for him is ’’touching people’s lives through floral design’’, and he has a strong imprint, being such an inspiration for designers all around the world.
Inspiration works as a spark for creativity. So, what inspires you? Could you share with us what are your main sources of inspiration and why they resonate with you?
Well, that's a good question. So many times people ask me ’’Where should I look? What can I see? Where should I go?’’ And actually, I get that question. Because I was also like this. But what happens now is that you need a combination between the outer world (let’s say when somebody is making an arrangement and you learn from that person) and the inner self. There is an immense potential if you go into yourself and really implement that information into your own being.
Often times people go to demonstrations and they love what they saw there. If you ask them what do they remember, they can describe everything - how beautiful everything was, what colours were used, but they only remember the outcome without thinking about what they learned from that, besides, the fact that the demonstration was really beautiful. So they don't go into the process. People are always looking for the outcome and this happens out of you, while process happens within you.
As creative people we are very much based on sense creativity, on our senses: to feel, to smell, to touch, but we don't go deeper into what does it do with us. And that's why flowers are all about emotions. And emotions happen within us.
So in short, if we were to talk about ’’Where do you find creativity?’’... well, you have to find it outwards, but also definitely inwards. And that's why the process of EMC is so important, because we are actually working on you, on your inner being, on that process of becoming a better creative or a better designer.
How do you see INTEGRATION, as a concept, influencing the future of our creative metier?
Oh, more and more. Nowadays flowers are sold in shops and supermarkets, and they are even going to sell them at the gas station... So in order to make a difference, you have to create added value to your products. This means that you have to integrate yourself with your product, you have to know how to deal with your product and see it’s potential. Only then you will make a difference.
So, integration is getting even more important! In describing best what the future will bring, I like to use 4 R-words: re-wild because nature, as pure as it is, will become our most important source of inspiration); reveal, as the digital revolution will bring us a filtered existence; reward for how our consciousness mindset will change, meaning our decisions will be more influenced and taken in order to serve a higher purpose and, finally, remind as besides a focus on our physically health, we’ll focus as well on our mental health in the upcoming years.
Integration can be all this things but also it can be towards each other as human beings, as we are being more and more open to integrating cultures, religions and accepting each other.
One of the things I see coming more and more strong this days is the integration of ourselves. It's all about ’’you’’, being yourself and going back to yourself, to who you really are and what you really want. It’s about expressing yourself. So it is actually integration in yourself, instead of being lived by somebody else.
You have a vast experience in floral education. How do you see the evolution of it in the way the future is unfolding?
EMC was one of the first that started with blended learning. So I believe in a combination between the online learning and the actual ’’getting the flowers in the hand’’. The foundation program is made in a certain way that you can study by yourself, without the need of traveling to Belgium. But in a certain moment, you really have to implement what you learned and that is why we have the Self Practicum when you have to work on yourself. In the EMC program we only have two classes. The Foundation and Self Practicum, are basically one class and the students have to prepare themselves to be ready to go to Bruges and to work on themselves for the Advanced Class. So in this case, there will be a combination of the online education together with the on spot.
The education will sure evolve, with the help of technology, students can virtually be in the classroom by using a pair of glasses or even further by using holograms. But learning how to put flowers together can’t be done on a screen. After gaining all the information from the Foundation class, you have to work with your hands and make the bouquet yourself, because you have to do that thing more and more, until your body is taking over from your brain and that’s how you actually come up with a habit. The frontal lobe in our brain is where the creative part is. When you learn something, the neurones are coming together, creating connections, and by repeating the actions, we only make this connections stronger and we create new neuronal pathways, that is new habits.
So you will never be able to create a bouquet on the screen. If you try doing that, your brain is seeing it, there is a connection, but your body isn’t executing the movement, because you are not actually touching the flowers and arranging them.
So in order to get through all the process of learning, you have to work with the knowledge that you gained in the Foundation part, otherwise it’s dead theory. So the knowledge that we give you in the Foundation part, becomes the ’’knowing’’ which you have to work with, and that becomes the Practicum. Then we will implement all this to level you up in the Advanced part in Bruges.
What are the most important lessons you consider to have learned in witnessing the world recently completely recreate itself?
One of them, that I have already mentioned in one of my first videos in May 2019, is about the fact that creativity is getting more and more important!. And once again this is the ’’WHY’’ factor.
I think that for a lot of people this was a serious confrontation, asking themselves a lot of questions like: what should I do?, What is happening?, I'm alone and why is this happening with me?‚ Why do I have COVID?’. But maybe it's not about what's happening to you, but rather it’s about how you deal with what's happening.
With all the restrictions around the world, my event business was forced to take a pause. In that moment I started to think where can I shift my mind in doing something that I can add to myself or to my product. So I shifted my mind towards EMC and I started to work on the programme and the curriculum, while Christi Lopez, my EMC business partner, focused herself on the online implementation part, which made it complete.
And I agree that this are very challenging times. Lots of people are still struggling, but we are all creative. Because this is what we do. We live our life and we create every moment, and creating is not only like being Picasso, it's not about that, because we each create our own life. So everybody has to work on this.
How would you define conscious creativity?
What conscious creativity is? Well, this is big. Pure consciousness is knowing the field of potential, thus infinite creativity. First of all is knowing yourself and accepting that you have to put yourself in an unknown zone for you, where there is a possibility that you fail and you're okay with that.
You may not be sure that the outcome will work. So there's no guarantee of success, but you're okay with it, because you know it is okay. And this means that you are okay with yourself. A conscious person is saying to himself or herself: ’’I'm not doing it for anybody else. I'm doing it for myself’’, so this makes him free from the judgment of others... it's really doable, and every decision I am going to make, and every outcome I am going to create, I will not contemplate all the time, but I know if I want to go to a certain direction, I will be very consciously take some decisions, like for instance: techniques, mechanics, botanicals, forms and shapes. Begin to design with the outcome in mind. So you don't start with’’We will see where we get’’. You have to determine your goal and know exactly where you are and in what direction you want to go. It doesn't have to be 100% as you initially planned, because then you have a fix mindset. You just shape something and create a concept in a 90-95% proportion, and then you can change and adapt along the way because through the process, you give yourself to the process. Creativity is all about process.
Also, a conscious designer never designs from the past. If you design from the past, than you stick to your known techniques, to your botanicals, to your process. If you always match to the past, you will never come up with something new. So you can have a base that will support you, but then you will also have to find something totally new. You can do that by being conscious about seeing beauty in everything around you. A conscious designer is conscious in all what he sees. A conscious designer doesn't just see things, but instead he looks at things. It’s just as simple as seeing a tree with three branches and thinking that you can make something totally new by just adding a side branch and obtaining a cool design.
I all the time take visual pictures of interesting things I see. I just click them in my memories because I have a strong visual memory. Also I have a very strong visualisation of things I can think about. When I do events, I can really visualise myself into the room, and already seeing my arrangement hanging or standing into the room. This is something that was latent present in myself, but it's like a muscle. The more you work with it, and the more you use it, the faster the connections are made and the less headaches you have to think about something. And also, the more you know about creativity and the language of creativity, the easier you connect the dots. And it's all about that. That’s why I all the time tell my students at EMC that they have to visualise or at least if they can't visualise, just start to sketch their design. The more you sketch, the more you train your mind to get the power of visualisation.
The creative mind is working on a different way as in rational people. Even if I deal with multiple projects at the same time, as I work, and I just put it a little bit away. It's just like planting the seeds and giving them time to grow. By doing this you give your brain a task and the neurones start to connect and find a way to give you a solution to your problem. And that's why an open mindset is so cool. Because people with open mindsets challenge themselves all the time. Sometimes the ideas that we come up with work, and sometimes they don’t. And it's not all about success, but it’s how you deal with failure. Sometimes you have to deal with the process of failure because this brings you to the next level. If you're so afraid to fail, you will never grow. You will not dare to go in to the unknown, thinking that maybe you will fail.
Unfortunately the whole education system is all so oriented on the outcome. It's all about the outcome. It's not about the process anymore. But actually, everything happens in the process. Everything happens in the journey towards the outcome, not on the outcome itself.
Do you believe that people who are innately creative can develop “conscious creativity” through floral education?
Even if we refer to native creative or not native creative, for both it's ’’yes’’ and for both is ’’no’’, because it is about the person itself.
In all this years that I have been teaching, I saw very talented designers that were less open than somebody that is totally not creative. People learn from actually only two factors: the gain factor -because you still want to grow, you are curious or you have the drive or the ambition to become better, or the pain factor –you learn because you have to move on, otherwise you get out of business. Those people with a certain pain factor have a more open mindset because they realise that something has to change and they are open to learn and grow. Some of the ones with the the gain factor may consider that it’s not necessary to learn some things anymore because they already know that.
In my opinion everybody is free to have a learning mindset, but if some of those people start to teach, passing on their knowledge, they have to know and to explain to their students’’WHY’’ things are done in a certain way, why do a design give a certain feeling, what colours were used, and so on, because this will help them to build up a creative process.
And if you are talented in what you do and you are open to learn even more, then you will get yourself to a level of great mastery.
As a professor you will have to teach through the potential of the students and you should be able to see potential not only in talented people, but also in the drive, the persistence, and the will of someone. I know people that didn’t have any feeling with flowers, but they had a creative spark in them or visa versa. They were really good with flowers, or they were really good with colours, but not with flowers. So there are so many angles to kind of attaching it to a medium. It’s not because you can't work with a medium that you're not creative.
I often times hear people say that they are not creative. They say it doesn't work, or they just wait to become creative. On a certain moment, they are ready, and they wait, but nothing will ever happen. So I all the times say: ’’just make something, even if it’s bad, but just do something because Creativity is an active job!
What is your thought process focused on when designing for creative and, respectively, educational purposes?
There are actually two questions here, so my first answer is regarding my event clients and the second one is about my students.
It's so simple, because it all starts with the ’’W's’’? So if you ask yourself, ‚’’Why am I doing it?’’, ’’For who is it?’’, ’’What is the reason?’’,’’What is the message?’’, you elevate yourself immediately to that high level. Then, the next step after you know all this, is to determine ’’How’’. And that's the contemplation moment when everything comes together. The ’’W's’’ give you the concept, and the ’’How’’ is the next step between a concept and the realisation.
The EMC curriculum is actually written from my experience, starting from being a student seeking information to become better, having a flower shop, freelancing to learn the metier better, and nowadays being an event designer. So when I meet a client, I start asking the ’’W’’ questions that I teach to my students. My clients are very busy people and they don't have a lot of time, but they know exactly what they want. Besides all the answers from the ’’W’s’’, mood boards and colour palettes (colour being the strongest visual language we have on this planet) are really important. In this way I can create something like a creative DNA on that person and determine what type of designs are the most appropriate.
If we now go back to my students and to the EMC curriculum, everything is related to what helped me in the past, through my growing process to get where I am today. And I still have the passion to learn as I know that the brain is growing and there are more possibilities. And the more you learn, the more you understand how it works, the more you want, because it's like a positive addiction. So in this case, I come up with a programme written from being in ’the field’, having, troubles, making the failures, but also having the enlightening moments I had by gathering information or just speak with somebody that gave me amazingly good insight. Well, that's why the EMC curriculum is a living object!
In the Advanced part when the students go to the Louvre and they look at a painting, it will be a mix between what they know, what they perceive and how they will cope with it, but also about making the connections. So, the more you go in depth, the more creative you want, the more subtle you want, and this means that you have an eye for detail.
That's why in the foundation class we don't give points, because we don't want to go into detail. We don't want to focus on the outcome, because we want you to be on the process. And the students designs don't have to be huge and beautiful. No, the students have to implement what they learned. In the advanced class, in the last two days, yes, there is going to be an exam, and then we are going to look at the details.
So EMC is an educational experience and you have to get through all the process for yourself and for becoming a conscious creative.
When do you think that ‘ Conscious Creatives’ develop a signature style? Does this evolve over time, or is it something that is unlocked by becoming a ‘conscious creative’?
Signature styles means that it is owned by you, it is developed by you and the process you just show or the outcome goes through your process. So you transform all the knowldge and all the tools that you get and they become you. And that's when you create a signature style.
This is pretty much related to the huge question that we miss nowadays in the education, and that is the question ’’Why?’’. Twenty years ago, everything was resuming to ’’what’’- what is an arrangement, what is the shape, what are the lines. Five-ten years later, people weren’t any more about the ’’what’’, but ’’how’’, and 80-90% are still in that function and are focusing on how something was made and about the techniques.
Fortunately there are also people that are a little bit ahead and they are skipping the ’’what’’ and the ’’how’’, and they are thinking about the ‚’’WHY’’, because once you know the ’’why’’, then you get in to the process. And then you create your own personality. This is what we need. We don't need copies from everybody because that is so dull and it is not reflecting a barometer of the present time. This way the world is not growing, and creativity is not growing either. Remember: Creativity never repeats itself! It can't. Otherwise it’s not creativity! If someone is going to create something with the ’’why’’ in mind, that person is already going to make like a DNA, of what he/she has in mind of their outcome. So it's always different. You are different. I am different. We are all different because we all have a different kind of life.
Creativity is strongly determined by curiosity, right? What triggers your curiosity best?
Curiosity! About everything. Because I am in a state of learning, in a state of growing. And we already have talked about the growing mindset in which a person wants to elevate himself to the next level, and become better than his older version. Of course what I learn has to be related to creativity. And that can be so huge... from architecture, painting, sculpting, Mother Nature, music or culture. It's amazing what we can learn from different cultures. All that makes me very curious. Because I know, it will help me in the process of becoming better. Like I said, it's kind of an addiction. You see... creativity is everywhere, but you have to be able to see it. You have to be open for creativity and this means seeing the beauty of something, because if you don't see beauty in something, you will not be attracted to it. So the more you know about the concept of beauty, the more you will see beauty in all the things around you. These are very nice side effects for me because I see beauty as part of my life. So I don't have to walk to the beach or to the woods to see beauty. I can enjoy the texture of my wooden floor and that is also inspiring me. I do this in an ’’unconsciously, consciously’’ way because if we go back to the brain, I have already created the neuronal connections and the habit of looking around for something interesting and beautiful all the time. A creative person has to create, day and night because it's an addiction. And for me, creativity can be a positive addiction.
"Creativity should be a journey of discovering your own potential, rather than a destination!" - where on this journey you talk about would you say you are now? What inspires you to keep going?
Curiosity in combination with the urge to go beyond my own boundaries in what I create! That brings me to the next level. That inspires me in keep going. The more you know and experience, the more you realise you can’t possibly comprehend the abundance that is coming your way. Meaning, there is much to explore and this makes you curious to go to the next level and dive a little bit deeper in to what you want to know.
interview and blog by Ana Grigoras
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