Our characters and their careers can make or break a story. From stay-at-home moms to nuclear physicists, the people in our stories need something to do. What better way than to give them an interesting job? We can place them in a chaotic workplace with outlandish co-workers and poof! We have story.
Every Tuesday in August, we’ll be contrasting and comparing similar careers. Today we’ll talk about Food Stylist vs. Floral Designer. What could these careers possibly have in common? More than you would think.
Turn to any Food Network show and you see beautiful displays of luscious-looking food, many a product of a professional food stylist. Food stylists combine culinary art and science to prepare food for cookbook and advertising photographs, television commercials, and scenes in movies. Stylists are responsible for finding unusual ingredients and preparing food so it looks freshly made and appetizing. A food stylist works for advertising agencies, cooking networks and other types of lifestyle media to make a chef’s recipe or food product look like a masterpiece. Food stylists are hired to do the shopping, chopping and marinating for celebrity chefs, magazines and television shows and often do most of the work themselves.
In addition to choosing, preparing and composing plated food, food stylists use numerous techniques to make appear the food as attractive as possible. One example would be using heavy cream instead of milk with cereal to prevent flakes from becoming soggy too quickly. Another would be applying lipstick to strawberries for a bright, glowing color.
Some of the skills a food stylist needs are an eye for artistic arrangements of food, with pleasing mixtures of colors and textures. Also a vast knowledge of food, nutrition, and cooking techniques is a must. Good people skills and business management will help a food stylist go far.
Being a food stylist requires always performing at the top of your game, because food doesn’t always behave. A Food Stylist is only as good as the last photo or commercial, so it requires an individual who is detail-oriented, organized, and focused.
For contrast, turn to a HGTV show, and you’ll see where a floral designer has probably been. Floral design is the art of using plant materials and flowers to create a pleasing and balanced composition. Evidence of refined floristry is found as far back as the culture of Ancient Egypt. Western design historically is characterized by symmetrical, asymmetrical, horizontal and vertical style of arrangements. In additional to flower arrangements, the art of floral design includes making wreaths, nosegays, garlands, boutonnieres, corsages, and bows.
There are schools of floral design, though formal training is not required to be a floral designer. But for people who aspire to run their own competitive floral design companies or work for top florists, there are programs from brief, online courses to bachelor’s degrees in floriculture. These degrees teach everything from types of flowers and how to handle them to the basics of business management. Many floral designers have high school diplomas and no formal training in floral design, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook handbook. They learn to be floral designers while working for a florist.
Floral design programs are available online and at some community colleges that teach about different types of flowers and how to handle them. The different techniques for arranging them as well as pricing are covered, as well as cutting and taping techniques and ribbon tying. More advanced courses may teach botany, hydrology and pest management. In addition to learning to arrange and care for flowers, a florist who wants to run a shop needs to study accounting, marketing, management and inventory control.
How can we compare these two seemingly opposite careers? Both require an artistic eye for color, texture, and arrangement. To be excellent in either field, you need good people and management skills.
No longer do we think of an artist as a person who wears a beret and paints portraits. Today’s artist has numerous opportunities to explore in our modern world.
Writing prompt: Maggie watched in anguish as her twelve-flavor ice cream display for the Dipsy Dairy commercial slid…
What’s a western story without a picturesque field blooming with fiery Red Indian paintbrushes? Combine this flower with the Texas bluebell and the contrast of color, shape, and texture will bring your tale to life. I love to picture fields or pastures thriving with flowers, weeds, and grasses I push aside as I walk through them in my mind. The sage grass waves like wheat while I’m careful to avoid the prickly thistles and their attractive purple flowers. Indian paintbrushes beckon to be examined, while a wild turkey calls somewhere in the background.
Add to that the Indian usage of many flowers and trees for medicine and your story now has depth. The flowers of the Indian paintbrush were boiled into tea and consumed to ease the symptoms of menstruation. An early day form of Midol? The flowers of the Ocotillo plant were dried and made into herbal tea. Yum!
So the next time one of your story characters tries to influence you in a visit to the southwest, let him or her go. Allow them to walk through a meadow of wildflowers and let your imagination paint the picture.
Prompt of the week: John glanced from the burnt orange sunset to the blush of the Indian paintbrush in the meadow below before his gaze settled on…
Flowers of the Southwest
Scarlet four o’clock
Winding Mariposa lily
Mexican tulip poppy
Southwestern flowering vines and parasitic plants
|Snapdragons “Snapped” by Betty Owens|
I’ve always loved snapdragons. Their bright beauty in my spring garden always makes me smile. Mine winter over, since our climate is mild, so they tend to bloom early. I wait and watch, wondering what colors they’ll reveal this year. They put on quite a show.
Native to the Mediterranean regions, the perennial snapdragons easily naturalize. Imagine an entire field of multicolored flowers in the spring. In ancient times, they were believed to have mystical powers to protect from witchcraft. Kind of like the garlic provided protection from vampires. Women believed the flower could restore youth and beauty. Hide one in your bodice to be perceived as fascinating or cordial.
As a child, I used to play with the snapdragon flowers, squeezing their throats between my thumb and forefinger to make the snapdragons “talk.” Most of those were yellow, but they come in every shade except blue and in three different sizes. Miniature, medium and large.
There is a strong connection with the trout lily—what? You’ve never heard of the trout lily? If not, you’re probably wondering how you relate to this flower native to the northeast. This week’s list of flowers and vines point to the northeastern United States, and during my research I discovered Erythronium, the trout lily.
The connection? We, at “Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My!” believe many of the greatest story ideas originate from simple objects or thoughts. The single spark of a word can ignite a fiery best-seller. For you, it could be the trout lily. Erythronium, also known as the fawn lily, dog’s-tooth violet, or adder’s-tongue, is a perennial which blooms in the spring. The tiny plant, which only grows six to ten inches high, has multiple uses. Its practicality appealed to the writer in me. The bulb is edible as a root vegetable, while its leaves can be cooked like mustard greens or Polk salad. The bulb can also be dried and ground as flour or used as a starch. Talk about subject matter to benefit your next Early American historical! All from this insignificant-looking plant.
We encourage you to bypass the mundane, the everyday words and stretch your imagination and vocabulary. Move from the comfortable, but limited space of the commonplace, to the endless collection of the unusual and remarkable.
So the next time you need a flower for your handsome suitor to present to his beautiful future wife, don’t think of the trout lily. She might throw it back in his face. Of course, that would bring humor to your story. Once he explains the significance of the trout lily, she could fall more in love—or not. Could the next best-seller be “A Trout Lily Wins Her Heart?”
This week’s writing prompt: She stared at the small yellow trout lily before pitching…
For more on the trout lily, check out these links:
Flowers of the Northeast
New England aster
Blazing star [Liatris]
Eastern skunk cabbage
Jack in the pulpit
White fringed orchid
Northeastern Vines and Parasitic Plants
True sago palm
Real fan palm