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Editorial by Tomas De Bruyne

floral design floral education Oct 14, 2022

Nurture the novice attitude within you

How does this contribute to your growth as a floral designer?

When we speak of the novice, are we referring to children or artists? My perception is neither of the two, as it speaks of them both, as different creative beings. It has nothing to do with age, nor does it mean one is childish. The novice attitude is all about putting aside the rational mindset during the process of creation.  

Children dare to create what comes up in their mind. They trust the flow of creating and give themselves to the process without judging or analyzing it in any way. The fear factor is non-existent, as children are driven by the love factor to create. No limitations in making surreal things come to life as for example purple grass or flowers without gravity, as they think or sketch super freely without any hesitation. It is related to other, more fundamental elements of thinking, such as adaptability and fluidity; originality and elaboration, rather than change, to be able to develop alternatives or comprehend things in a distinctive manner. And for children, these things happen naturally. They flip the world from inside out and vice versa. Their thoughts are not limited to what is supposed to be right. Somewhere on the line people change, as a child that would be around 10 ,  as realism comes in, forced to adapt to the world we live in , ‘guided’ by the system, parents, teachers.  

The novice stage is an amazingly time in any creative journey. It is strongly connected to beginnings, where rules are not yet in place, when imagination drives behaviours to reach unknown possibilities and where creativity is somehow comparable to that of your children. It is limitless, unfiltered by outside factors and free.

When the law of human nature, or society is taking over, meaning we respecting what can and not can, one exists that novice stage of creativity. We start to behave ourselves as part of the real world we live in by practicing the elements and principles of design. We need rules or the ones who are more advanced: guidelines to how to design what is expected to be beautiful. Meaning respecting ‘the right’ proportion, ‘the right’ scales, ‘the right’ colour combinations etc. The ego comes in and we tend to start to listen what people find about our work. And the ego needs to be fed in order to survive.  

If the surrounding likes it, we continue as we feel we are praised and recognized. We get the confirmation that we are on the right path. This satisfaction factor that comes from an outside sourcepushes us to continue. If not, we will stop sketching or creating as we are not encouraged anymore to move on or even disappointed or realising art is not for us. Once rules and self regulation comes into play, it is often the case that people end up saying  ‘I’ll never to be able to create’, almost developing a fear of creation. 

We all faced this stage in a certain artistic medium we embrace, whether sooner or later.

The question is can we pick up again where we stopped being that kid creating and communicating our feelings and emotions freely with no limitations nor fear of failure?

Yes is the answer, but it takes courage and passion to overcome these obstacles. All artists had this question on their plate and went through a process of contemplation, approaching creation in a consciously way in order to bring back the joy of creation. As Paulo Coelho nicely said ‘You drown not by falling in the river, but by staying submerged in it.’

Go beyond what you are with no limitations!

Have no fears!

Just jump!

Enjoy what you do without considering the outer worlds's judgment.

Dare to be a child!

Bringing back and nurturing the novice stage, pure passion should be your drive!

Take for example Salvator Dali. His approach was sketching in a realistic vision, but with a surrealistic approach of thinking. Or the story of Alice in Wonderland, going from one world to another. Or even the Harry Potter adventures pulling us in his world of another dimension, a dimensions of a fantastical world. A surreal imagination brings you further than any real imagination. Strange things that do not make sense bringing into this world is actually a different approach that makes a difference. The intriguing part is that it works for any spectator as we are all curious in our nature as humans. We all love a good story and storytelling is a universal part of any culture across the world.

Is this freedom to create limited to a certain age?

… definitely NOT,  as each of us is translating it trough its perception, experience, knowledge and knowing differently.

It’s about how you Interprets an idea. Think about it: a 7 year old child will interpret a concept so different from somebody who has the life experience of 70. That is part of the power of being a novice, as you dive into. In order to be creative, you need to be able to view things in new ways or from a different perspective. Among other things, you need to be able to generate new possibilities or new alternatives. Tests of creativity, for instance, measure not only the number of alternatives that people can generate but the uniqueness of those alternatives. The ability to generate alternatives or to see things uniquely does not occur by change; it is linked to other, more fundamental qualities of thinking, such as flexibility, tolerance of ambiguity or unpredictability, and the enjoyment of things heretofore unknown.   

In EMC we teach our students to focus on how to interact between design, techniques, knowledge and sense of time. Basically, these 4 elements determine your creative personality, your creative DNA. If you manage to add a surrealistic vision, if you bring out the best of your imagination, you’ll start to create from out of the box, rather than trying to fit in a box.  

Bringing the unknown to the known world is a concept that should guide all creative metiers. In our creative world IMAGINATION is the magic factor all big artists have and explore, it is the one thing that brought them to be an artist. The imagination relates to the ability to transform every idea, in all its forms, and make is a reality.

In a conscious creative stage, as an artist or designer, fear becomes excitement and problems become challenges. In a sense, it is a conscious return to the novice stage, to the exciting times of new beginnings. These people understand the importance and beauty of the process of creation and do not focus on the outcome. As I always say, the outcome will follow. The better the process, the better the outcome as it the result of it. Ask any chef: the passion and focus lies in the process of preparing the dish, the outcome brings the satisfaction of a labour of love.

Keeping that curiosity of a child high without the fear of failing because you do it for yourself, giving yourself space to play, test and enjoy the process of doing it is creative must. True creativity comes from within, experiencing the process of designing. Knowing the result will come without focusing on the result but only on the making of it will give you back that sense of freedom you had as a novice designer and will take you to new realms of creation.

We only have to go back to our stage of novice where all was new in experiencing an infinite world of potential to be discovered. The wonder or curiuosioty factor , “what can be” , is one of the most beautiful attitude elements of a child or novice we have to learn to cherish it. It is said that the reel happiness and joy of creatives is to be completely engaged with what they are doing in the here and now. 

The circle is round as we all start in life by being a novice, and aiming to keep being a novice but in a conscious way is so important. The feeling of unlimitedness, feeling greater than you are brings you to the next stage. Everybody wants to skip the level of being a novice or at least make it as short as possible, without truly understanding the beauty of it.  As novice you do not have to deal with your comfort zone, as there is no zone. That eliminates the big insecurities, the eagerness to perform, the fear element of creativity which is stopping you to think in an innovative way. 

That’s why I still keep and cherish my novice mindset  and attitude; as I realise it lifts me up and it gives me the joy to continue to create!


by Tomas De Bruyne

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