Floral designer Keith Eric Davis is a delight to interview. Upbeat and enthusiastic, he’s as excited reminiscing about past projects as a bride or groom might be on their own wedding day. He spoke with Our Town about his inspirations, methods and how he’d love to design Miley Cyrus’s wedding.
Our Town What led you to pursue a degree in horticulture?
Keith Eric Davis One of my earliest memories was of my mother and I sowing tomato seeds in styrofoam cups early in the spring to grew in my bedroom window sill. We would later plant them in our garden on our farm in Brookville, OH, and enjoy the reap of fruit starting in late July. Something about the way plants grow has always interested me, and my parent’s love of gardening, along with my grandmother's and great aunt's love of ornamental plants was the basis for my love of nature.
OT How did you decide to transition from designing for retail to working for yourself?
KED After interning at Walt Disney World in their Interior Landscaping / Design department, I moved to Chicago and started work in a retail garden center and florist. As well as being a floral designer, and photographer, I'm also a member of Actor's Equity Association, and the Screen Actors Guild. Maintaining a design career, and meanwhile also working in the other creative field I love, theatre, it became harder and harder to keep a "normal" schedule to work for someone else. Being an actor, I found myself connected to a whole network of friends who were getting engaged, and so I began advertising myself as a wedding florist.....soon I was off and running!
OT How do you go about bringing a client’s specific vision to life?
KED For me, it's all about listening and being completely open to their creativity. I prefer to meet the client over coffee, or dinner and just relax and get inspired by their thoughts. I always ask clients to bring anything to the meeting that gets their creativity excited, whether in a positive or negative way, so that I can better understand them. Then it's a matter of taking those ideas, running them through my creative energy and we go back and forth till all are deliriously happy.
OT What have been some of your favorite events?
KED I always enjoy weddings. It's such a special occasion in the life of a couple and the excitement about the event, the family and friends who all jump in to make the day perfect; the love that's shared by those people is palpable. I love helping give that particular day a beautiful backdrop and focal point to always remember.
OT Any wedding design horror stories?
KED Ha! I remember a bride's father knocking down a 5' tall cylinder glass vase filled with water all over his gorgeous daughter--that's a LOT of water!! Since her own father did it, she forgave him...luckily! I also remember me and a hired friend, on our hands and knees, moving lit candles along the aisle to make room for the bride's train, which she failed to inform me about. The guests were already seated and waiting for her to walk down the aisle, and here we were, crawling at their feet. It was quite the hilarious scene, but a thunderous success!
OT How does your photography connect with your design work?
KED I have tens of thousands of photos that I have taken in lots of places on earth. They serve as direct inspiration for my design work by giving me endless color palettes, textures, shapes and lines through which I can create interesting and new floral art.
OT Any celebrities on your wedding design wish list?
KED Sandra Bullock. Jennifer Aniston. Michelle Williams. Oprah. Madonna-if she just didn't hate hydrangeas. Neil Patrick Harris- if he's not actually married yet....and Miley Cyrus.
OT What advice do you have for others looking to work independently?
KED First of all DO NOT do it if you aren't highly motivated, energetic kind of person--it just takes so much time and energy to make it all happen. It sounds cheesy maybe, but you must be a nice, pleasant person, someone people want to be around. You also must make your peace with uncertainty, because that is always the case. And you have to continually educate yourself in your chosen field(s)--without learning, we are all just stuck in the mud.
Check out Keith Eric Davis' work here.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for sites like Pop Matters and
afterellen.com Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," was called “poetic and heartrending” by ALA Booklist. Sarah is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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