Artist of the Week: Melissa Garcia Johnson

"It's a delicate balance of intention and freedom." 

photo by Sydney Akagi

Presenting our Kindred Artist of the Week series! We are big fans of all the artists we work with and we are so excited to share their stories!

This week’s featured artist is local artist Melissa Garcia Johnson, principal designer at Frenchie's Floral Studio! You may have seen the seasonal bouquets we offer on First Fridays or holiday weekends -- they're all made fresh from her hands and feature seasonal, regionally-sourced blooms. Her fresh, whimsical work will be in full bloom tonight at our 5 Year Anniversary Party from 4:30-7:30! Melissa will be here with stems and bouquets at Frenchie's pop up Flower Bar; come get yourself some living beauty.

Who are you?

Melissa Garcia Johnson, Principal Designer and Manager at Frenchie's Floral Studio. I'm also a doggie mama, wife-to-be, and nature lover.

What do you do?

Frenchie’s Floral Studio is Juneau's neighborhood flower shop located in the downtown Historic Flats District. With a focus on regional, seasonal ingredients and elevated design, we strive to create lush, organic, and artful florals that are unique and custom tailored to all of life's moments. We love serving the Juneau community through daily designs & deliveries, and also offer wedding floral services to couples in love. We are the only flower shop in town that allows you to shop by the stem, offering you the chance to play artist and curate your own bouquet! In addition to all things floral, our little shop also offers an array of juicy plants and thoughtful gift items. Most of my days are personally spent bouncing between armloads of flowers and administrative tasks at the shop.

Who/what inspires you?

Nature, always. I was raised roaming the foothills of Northern California and spent many summers as a child on my grandparent's ranch, knee deep in mud, grass, and wildflowers. I had (and continue to have) a love for the natural world and can often be found dissecting the elements around me to learn more about their form, color, and texture. The movement of blooms and branches in the real world informs most of my designs in the studio.

What’s your favorite moment in the process?

I have two: the first is selecting color palette. I love working with color and always pay very close attention to the way that colors interact with each other in florals and foliages. I believe a solid color palette and top notch ingredients are the foundation of any design, so establishing this with each of my designs brings me a lot of joy. 
After that, once I have flowers in hand, I find the first few steps of the process can often feel tedious and challenging because I'm mostly focused on building out the structure of the design. There's almost always a moment in my work where I absolutely hate what I'm creating. But then, I usually make one small tweak or one killer stem insertion that dramatically changes the design and brings the whole piece together. It's a lot like problem solving, and that moment of resolution makes the rest of the design just flow. From that point on, I'm in my element and can groove and play until the design is done. 

What’s a trick of your trade, or a piece of advice for other artists in your medium?

A simple piece of advice for those who like to buy bouquets from the store and then design their own arrangements at home: play around with height and dimension. When all the stems are cut at the same level and placed in a vase, depth or dynamic movement can be lost. Give each stem a moment to shine and accentuate its shape and character. 
For those who dabble with flowers more frequently, I'll share this (and it's advice I offer to myself often too): just trust your intuition and don't take yourself too seriously. When I first started in florals, I felt like I needed to be super precise in how I designed because I was such a beginner. I found that I was constantly tweaking things and couldn't just let a design be. Now, I really heavily rely on my gut to just know when a design is done and I feel like a lot of that is informed, again, by nature and the awareness that, when things grow in the natural world, they're not perfectly curated but still hold so much beauty. It's a delicate balance of intention and freedom. 

What’s next?

We're excited to keep on flowering for the lovely people of Juneau and surrounding communities here in Southeast. We've seen a lot of really exciting growth with weddings over the past year or so, and I'm over the moon to meet our 2020 couples as the 2019 wedding season minds down. We're also game planning around workshops and community events in the future, so stay tuned for that! 

See Melissa and her work tonight at the party, 4:30-7:30pm!

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