I have just returned from China where I was the mentor of one of the most exciting and creative tabletop competitions in the world. This was my third year as the “Tim Gunn”, or encouraging mentor, to these very talented floral designers. I have always resisted the role of being a judge, choosing instead to leave that to others. Speaking candidly, the notion of sending a message that some designers are good, but others are not good enough, has always made me extremely uncomfortable. I much prefer the role of encouraging each individual to dig deeper to discover the artist that lives within them.
I know this is not embraced by all, especially when we take into consideration the society we live in and the media that covers it. Both encourage us all to strive to be “the best in the world” instead of being the best artist we can be for ourselves. Writing this, I am reminded of an awful teacher who told me that I should be a mechanic because I had no artistic eye (I am the least mechanical person I know).
The reason I feel so strongly about this issue is that, at the age of 65, I have seen way too many artists stop trying simply because they heard that they are not good enough.
My individual mentorship to these talented artists consisted of pointing out what I liked about their designs, and what I thought they could improve. Note: I gave the latter advice not as the voice of God or someone who knows its all, but as a supportive friend who has done and seen a lot of designs.
I’ll like to thank Se from I do, I do once more for giving me the opportunity of a third year to mentor these talented florists.
Now, let’s see if you agree with the judges. One of the table settings above won first, second, and third place. Which do you think was the winner, and why?
(Photo Courtesy of John Labbe)