British-born, LA-based floral designer Gemma Hayden Blest spends her days creating botanical artworks for music videos, fashion shoots, and exclusive boutiques. Hello, dream job...
Gemma Hayden Blest
Los Angeles // Hong Kong
Where did you grow up? What did you want to do/be when you were a kid?
I traveled around a lot when I was growing up, but most of my schooling was in England. I wanted to be a ballerina when I was little, which is funny because I still carry through a lot of those aesthetics in my designs.
Who has been the most inspiring person in your professional life?
After university I interned for the late, iconic, British fashion designer Alexander McQueen and learnt more in those five months than over the course of my entire, three-year degree. The intensity and intricacy of his work has stayed with me to this day. No designer ever paid more attention to detail.
How did you get your start?
As the old saying goes: when you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life. When I found out flowers were what I loved, it all exploded quite quickly. I was happy to churn out unpaid work off my own back, which led to a a few designers contacting me to collaborate on projects. Things just developed from there.
What did you study? Are you glad that you did?
I studied Art and Design, then did a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion. I think fashion design instilled a lot of discipline in me, andalso taught me about trending, color, texture, composition and attention to detail - all invaluable in my current line of work. Studying in London was without question the best place I could have been as a design student and young graduate.
What inspires you? What are your most frequent sources of artistic reference?
Traveling. Nothing refreshes the mind more than new things. Different cultures, different perspectives, different ways of thinking. South-East Asia has a beautiful connection with flowers that I was lucky enough to learn from in my travels throughout the region.
What's the biggest lesson you've learnt so far? Personal or professional.
Never shy away from a challenge. Every job I do is different but we always find a way to make it work.
You've traveled a lot in your life and career. Which destination has had the most impact on your work?
Whenever I travel I always try and visit the local flower markets. The way different cultures use flowers for worship, celebration, grievance and decoration impacts the way I think about the medium. One of the most memorable markets was in Mandalay, Burma. The importance that flowers have for people living there was so inspiring.
What advice would you give to girls who want your job?
Figure out what you are trying to say. Think of flowers as an artist would paint. What mood or emotion are you trying to create? Don't just throw together bouquets; any florist can do that. It's important to find a signature that people will start to recognise in your work. (This advice can be applied to any job!)
What are you doing next?
I'm currently working on a collection of botanical prints. I've done this before, in collaboration with designers like Alice + Olivia, but I now want to develop a solo series.
What's the dream?
Covering everything in flowers, everywhere I go - like Midas and his golden touch.