My Creative Workbook

Christine de Beer - effortless floral craftsman

Creative Competition

This week I am so excited to share my article and design that was published in the recent issue of the Floral Art Society of New Zealand's Academy Magazine for NZ qualified teachers, judges and demonstrators. It's all about good competition.

You have made up your mind, read your schedule and signed the entry form. You are in competition preparation mode with your eye on gold. Competitions are a great way for designers to hone their skills, challenge their talent and showcase their work as part of a group of leading edge designers who are setting design trends. All good reasons to compete. And there is more: great competition is good for you and our floral art community, in fact, it is actually essential for your sustained creative success.

Creative Competition Floral Art Design

Many designers hesitate to enter a prominent competition or compete against a really strong designer.

It is so easy to get intimidated and talk yourself out of taking on the challenge. Instead they enter at a level where they feel comfortable. They might be relatively successful in their comfort zone, but it no longer inspires them to create something truly spectacular. Let me explain why:

Growing and honing your skills can only come from “good” competition. Your skills will stagnate without competition or “bad” competition.

Creative Floral Art Competition Design

No Competition: Without competition, designers are unable to establish the relative level of their skills. How polished are your design skills really? Do you still pay careful attention to floral craftsmanship? Is your work as original as you think it is? It’s so hard to judge for yourself.

The absence of competition has another, even more harmful effect. It can cause you to become complacent, never looking for ways to improve, never raising the bar. Like any other design form, floral design skills are ever moving and changing. Combating complacency requires you to actively seek competition. Sign up to receive floral art magazines like the Academy Leader, join groups that promote art (for instance WAI Flowers... or let me know if you have a good flower group to suggest) and continue the conversation. Take part in shows and competitions, attend design demonstrations, conferences and enroll in a training course. You can even join me here on the My Creative Workbook website for weekly design inspiration. Let the floral world, and yourself, know that you are current and relevant.

Creative foam free flower arrangement for floral art competitions

Bad Competition: As a competitor, bad competition may sound desirable, but it can be disastrous. If the overall standard is low in a competition, the viewers will naturally associate the disappointing experience with floral art as a whole, and passionate organizers and designers will have to work twice as hard to compensate or attract them to the next competition or show. Education is the best counter to bad competition.

Educate your visitors to the show and the competitors alike. Arrange public floral art appreciation demonstrations and flower care events at the show. Teach visitors about what the judges are looking for and how the designers prepare and the challenges they face. Include a "how to read the show schedule” or "floral art rules and regulations" or even “you be the judge” pamphlets with every ticket sale or place it next to the designs. If the viewers are educated they will demand the kind of high quality designs you offer. As a competitor, you can even meet with your competition to encourage group cooperation and improvement, at least on some level, so that you compete as individual designers but uplift and promote floral art as a group. I mean… who doesn’t like to hear they competed in the absolute best category in the entire show!

Contrasting weaving techniques for florists

Good Competition: The ideal situation is to face good (great is even better!) competition. With good competition you have the opportunity to differentiate yourself. This is where you learn what your key strengths are and what your value proposition is. Good competition will also push you to constantly improve, knowing that you have to deliver your absolute best in order to remain great competition for your competition.

Great and healthy competition inspires. Not every competition you enter will be to win. You enter some competitions to push boundaries and set a new standard for yourself. These kind of “out there” designs rarely win, but they do get you noticed! Designing to push your own boundaries in competitions mean that you don’t have to change your style when you are experimenting. Nor do you have to fear failure because the judges still associate your work with quality (and innovation) even if you did not win this time.

Phalaenopsis orchid and lily grass flower arranging competition design Tutorials

This allows you to focus on what you create, really develop and letting the people who follow your work (and the judges) fall in love with your offering.

Build a lifelong relationship with viewers with ever improving designs and impeccable craftsmanship. In good competitions there’s no such thing as failure because the standard is so high.

Organic crafting with plant material tutorials

Take the time to evaluate your competition, and evaluate yourself as competition. Consider the implications on your floral art today, and in the long run. Make sure that you are great competition.

Special thank you to Vivienne Tumaru, the editor of Floral Art Society of New Zealand's Academy magazine for the wonderful review of my book- I so appreciate it Viv!

If you would like to review my book, The Effortless Floral Craftsman, a floral crafter's guide to crafting with nature on your blog or website, or would like to receive an online review copy for your publication please contact me, I would love to connect with you.

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Every week I add a new design with related tutorials. Be sure to subscribe to receive an email notification with design inspiration.


29 May 2019 Weaving and Interweaving for contrast

My block design is shaped around a Styrofoam block. It is bulky but lightweight and a great way to reuse packaging.

29 May 2019 Taking a break when weaving with grass

When weaving a more labour intensive design you might want to/have to break for a few hours. This is the best way to keep the project from dying out too quickly.

30 August 2011 Removing Oasis Floral Adhesive glue spills

The finish of every design should be flawless. Make sure there are no bits of glue visible in your design by carefully removing all traces of spills.

8 June 2011 Foliage Weaving

For this tutorial I focus on a simple weave pattern that does not require you to soften or prepare the leaves to be more durable or flexible. This is the starting point in...

4 January 2011 Drinking straw "test tubes"

When you need to keep a tiny stem hydrated this is just what you need.

1 October 2012 Weaving a ball shaped Dew-drop Catcher from grass

Weave a sphere from grass

3 April 2013 Twin Leaf Weave

Weave two palm leaves together to create a floral grid

14 January 2015 Weaving Slippers from Foliage

Weave slip on shoes from palm leaves

20 July 2016 Twisted Lily Grass sun hat

Twist and weave a sun hat from blades of lily grass

13 July 2016 Woven lily grass parachute armature

Weave a canopy or parachute shaped armature in a way that you can place the stems in two vases to keep it hydrated.

13 March 2019 Interweave an enchanted gift basket

A bit of a planned-messy woven basket that is sturdy enough to carry small items.

Favourite Flowers


Phalaenopsis, Moth orchid

Related Designs

26 June 2019 “Ok wow”

A design so fine you can easily miss it... if it were not for the interwoven pebbles catching your eye.

29 January 2020 Peekaboo

A light and airy (no floral foam but still long lasting) floral design for those days that you are really, really looking for signs of Spring.

18 March 2020 Aerial Odyssey

A closer look at my design at Canada Blooms and The Toronto Flower Show last week. The show was cancelled right after we staged the designs due to COVID-19 concerns.

17 February 2021 From here in out

An all natural, zero waste design using only plant material.

10 March 2021 The way we curve

Tiny minimal design that explores curves.

31 March 2021 Criss-crossed

Hide an egg inside a interwoven nest for a dainty Easter decoration design.

2 February 2022 Putting my feelers out

Adding just a little something to a bud vase design to connect them... and make it special.

13 April 2022 Hop on… it’s Easter!

A cheery Easter basket for a new beginning

19 October 2022 Point Witch (or Wizard) Way

A wire framed witch or wizard hat that can be reshaped.

5 April 2023 Where do you even start looking?

Easter egg... egg for Easter eggs

26 July 2023 Column… try it flower buddies

A bottom to the top... top to the bottom support to help keep your summer flowers hydrated.

23 August 2023 Note to Self

An easy to weave natural grid for summer floral arrangements.

25 October 2023 Go on Autumn… glow!

Mixing permanent and fresh design ingredients to celebrate just how clever the glow of Autumn is.

1 May 2024 Favourite Take-Away

Basket weave container for some Spring floral treasures.

1 October 2012 How to catch a dew drop:

Weave a sphere from grass to catch a precious and exquisite and perfect glistening early autumn dew drop

3 April 2013 April showers bring May flowers

After a long winter it is always fun to use the first spring bulb flowers!

16 July 2014 Unraveling fast

Weaving foliage to create a lush water scene

14 January 2015 Take a load off

Weave slippers from foliage

20 July 2016 A Shade of Summer

Twist and weave a lily grass summer hat

13 July 2016 Woven

Weave a canopy or parachute shaped armature for orchids to perch on

13 March 2019 How to avoid your wedding treasures from becoming “after the event trash”

My article and grass wedding basket design.