Say hello to another one of our Hometown Heroes: LA-based artist and florist Amber Lu. As admirers of her eye-catching arrangements, we were excited to get a peek inside her studio and learn more about her process. Check out Amber’s favorite way to spark new inspiration, her most essential tools, advice for other creatives and more.
Let’s start from the beginning. How did you get interested in floral design, and when did you start thinking of it as more than just a hobby?
A few years ago I was designing a pop-up with a “creatures in the garden” theme. I stuck cutout drawings in a vase with coffee beans for the soil and flowers around it, creating a little world. Ever since then, I wanted to learn more about flowers.
I started working for a flower shop a few months after my pop-up. The designers there helped me with the basics—processing the flowers, cleaning the water, making sure to cut the stems right before going back in water again. I kept practicing and trying to find my own style. After a few frustrating but great months of learning, I got the hang of things. From then on, I knew it was something I wanted to do for a very long time.
What’s your go-to move for gaining new inspiration?
When I’m feeling stuck creatively, reading helps. Some of the books I read have very detailed descriptions of characters and scenery that give me ideas for what to create or what color palette to use. Reading also allows me to rest and clear my mind before arranging, especially for an event.
What are some essentials you always have with you in the studio?
Clippers, flower frogs, curly willow, a few vases and twine. Oh, and a good playlist for the day. It helps me with designing, which is a plus, because it gets me out of my comfort zone and to challenge myself.
Tell us about a typical day for you.
I usually start out by cleaning the space—changing the water, processing leftover flowers and foliage. Then I look to see which flowers I have on hand at the moment, figure out a color palette, choose a vase and start designing. After orders are done and out for delivery, I play around and practice.
Any advice for others looking to take their creative side gig into full-time territory?
Don’t ever give up! It’s hard and can be very, very frustrating at times, but in the end it’s so worth it. Especially when other people are happy or inspired because of who you are and the work you’ve created—it’s such a warm feeling. I definitely know the fear and the “what ifs,” but it’s always good to start off small by having a few pop-ups, connecting with local people and from there, start planning what you want to do in the long run. Also, don’t be afraid to share your creativity and who you are.