Artist Spotlight: Teaching What You Love
LISTEN TO PAPER TALK - EPISODE 12: Teaching What You Love with Amity Libby
Some of you may not be aware, but Amity Libby of Florabeane was highly involved in The Paper Florist Collective when the idea of organizing an international community of paper florists was in its infancy. At the time, she was known by her maiden name, Amity Beane. Now, she’s more focused on her family and spreading the word of paper floristry in another way and by doing what she does best - teaching. She has built a successful business through her online courses (and fresh flower farming) while living in a small town in Maine.
Listen to Amity as she talks with Quynh, Jessie and Priscilla, about her recent elopement, her comfort in going Live, and her ambitions to live in Portugal.
1. Who is Amity Beane and how did you discover paper floristry?
My name is Amity Libby now, as I got married in May. Mom of one, Maine-based global citizen! I discovered this lovely art via the Design Sponge Instagram feed. I fell in love with all the featured artists and soon ordered my own paper to play with! I was about four months pregnant when I started and it was a wonderful way to spend that time.
2. How did you find your branding style? How has your brand and style evolved to what it is today?
I’ve been playing with branding styles since I started my first business in the seventh grade (Ami-Tees, tie-dyed shirts). It’s always been fun for me to think of names, slogans, and what fonts go with what. I’m a bit of style stickler, years of teaching yearbook. I studied book arts in college, at UMaine Machias, and even owned my own Kelsey Excelsior press at one point. When it came to Florabeane, I wanted my brand to be strong, minimal, and natural. I’m toying with a change of name this year to recognize I’m no longer the Beane in Florabeane. I’m also not just a paper florist. My flower farm grows year by year!
3. What are some of the challenges you've faced during your paper florist career?
Well, there’s certainly many things others have helped me overcome. Tiffanie Turner was instrumental in encouraging me to get work into a gallery and kind of coached me through the process last year. It was a challenge for me to take that step and she helped! Finding space and time to work are challenges for me. I’ve been so so fortunate to have the support of patrons through my studio subscription. I was able to rent a church last year and this year I’m in a tiny room but it’s all mine and has air conditioning. And now we have daycare! My daughter has a wonderful daycare she attends that allows me to actually work in long spurts of time.
4. How have you made your paper flower voice stand out in the crowd?
Teaching others is the way people get to know me and my work. I think creative people gravitate towards my coloration processes and all my little hacks for doing things, developed because I never had enough time before when my daughter was a baby. People remark on the realism of my paper sculptures. That’s always my goal.
5. How would you define your customer base?
I have two types customers. Those that collect beautiful things and those that make beautiful things. My collectors have a clear profile. They are all go-getters who purchase my work to elevate their own environments or businesses. My makers are a little different. They are eager to learn, and they are visual learners. They want to see it and do it!! Often they come to the craft for a special occasion (like a wedding or a party) and they get hooked. There are more men involved - yes, guys make flowers, and good ones! And I have a huge diversity of nationalities who learn from me which makes me so happy. It feels like we are one big global group of makers. My biggest joy is hearing from a maker that something I shared with them allowed them to have a breakthrough. That right there motivates me. I just had an artist message me that she had a very successful weekend of sales. She said it had everything to do with the confidence she had gained after taking my master class. I mean, does it get any better to hear that?
6. What advice would you give to a paper florist that is starting out today? And one that is about to give up?
If you are just starting out, remember to make twelve of a thing to really get the knack of it. Don’t make one rose, make twelve. You’ll see such a difference by the end. As for one about to give up? Hey, sometimes you need to pivot. You’re not giving up your creativity, you’re just putting down the scissors for a spell. Be still, and make room for the new things coming your way. It’s okay to quit.
7. Do you have any paper flower making tips to share with our listeners?
Use a stapler to keep paper in place when you batch cut. Use a baking sheet to cut and organize your projects on. It keeps things tidy and you can stack them. To really sculpt petals, use a painter’s paddle to smear the thinnest layer of glue over the petals and wait for it to tack up before manipulation into a final shape. And above all else ventilate your workspace and take care when using colorants.
8. What would you say is your signature flower?
I just love seeing the ranunculus from Pure Romance Studio Florabeane out in the world. I see it and instantly recognize it as my design. I can’t say that about all of my other flowers, a rose looks like a rose looks like a rose, so let’s say the ranunculus is it!
9. Do you have a favorite tool you use on a daily basis?
My brain. It helps me know when to say no and when to say yes. My heart would have me say yes to everything. But I trust and love my brain and it comes up with some great ideas in this business.
10. Anything else that you’d like us to know about you?
I’d love to know from your listeners what they would like to learn more about - feedback, it’s so important!