Last week at the Amsterdam Woonbeurs (Dutch home deco trade show) I stumbled upon the photography of Bas Meeuws at More Than Classic, a Dutch interiors magazine with a particularly arty slant.


Here's a (bad) photograph of one of his chromogenic still life photographic prints, from a distance and close up. It's mounted under plexiglass and therefore reflecting badly, but you get the idea.

I was immediately drawn to his work, which is clearly influenced by 17th century still life painting. From what I can tell by looking at these photographs, they are digitally collaged in Photoshop. They have a ton of depth.


So his subject matter and compositions directly reference a centuries-old still life painting tradition, but he is presenting the 'same-old-same-old' as very 'slick' large format photography, and making use of today's digital technology ... So what you have is both old and new.

Besides that, I just love to see flowers on a dark background, flowers bursting out of the shadows. It's kind of a trend that keeps popping up in my own work. Drawing and painting is always a matter of studying light and dark. Forms are borne out of the relationship between the two. But I get really excited when the distance between light and dark is so extreme, so dramatic, and creates such theater and moodiness.

For a long time I've admired the floral stylings and photography of the Brooklyn-based florist Saipua, who I stumble across on (where else but) Pinterest.



Their arrangements are wild and unruly, and they look so incredibly lush photographed against these dark backgrounds.

Another photographer who's doing some pretty cool digital collages with flowers is Isabelle Menin.


I found her series "Dark is a Possibility" so atmospheric and haunting, particularly the image on the left.

And then there is Kahori Maki, an illustrator who creates her own (un)natural worlds filled with flowers, insects and animals. In these two pieces below I see a beautiful flow (left) and even collapse (right) in the sinuous movement of her leaves, stems and petals. There's also an incredible depth to her shadows.


I'm a big fan of all of these artists and photographers and am looking at their work as I start on a second 'dark floral' design. I've struggled a bit with what to do next. On the one hand, I always want to be experimenting and trying new things, but on the other, the response to my first dark floral design has been so exciting and so out of proportion with anything else I've ever done that it seems like something worth revisiting.

Flowers are, in any case, absolutely my subject of choice. I've always seen them as the ultimate symbols of vulnerability and – at the same time – ultimate courage. To me, placing them in dark, brooding environments conveys a narrative of some part hope, some part heartbreak. And it is this balance of hope and heartbreak that is consistently interesting to me in my work. I want my designs to be narratives of optimism and celebrations of beauty, pinned on a background of darkness, and all that that darkness represents.

For source material, I've been trying to take some dramatic photographs of flowers. To do so, I've been experimenting with spot metering. The flower below represents one of my first playful (lame) attempts at overexposing the foreground and underexposing the background.


This effect combined with a short depth of field will hopefully, with practice, give me some dramatic results to work from. I'm no Bas or Isabelle, but I will keep working at it ...