Episode 108 - Taking Back Artistic Power with Sue Mcleary

Season #4

We chat with Sue Mcleary about finding your artistic voice, sharing freely as a teacher, and being a late bloomer to the floral industry.


How do you find your artistic voice? Will you ever get to the point that you can tell clients that you know what’s best for their floral arrangements—and they trust you?


In our latest episode, we talked with fresh florist Sue Mcleary, also known as Passionflower Sue. She has a unique and strong style. She stays true to her artistic voice, and her clients are all the happier for it. But Sue didn’t magically arrive on the fresh flower scene knowing who she was as a florist. It took time and experience. She told us all about how she found her way, and the principles all apply to our paper flower journeys as well. 

 Listen now to hear how Sue took back her artistic vision and has built a floral career that brings her joy and fulfillment as a result. 


Here’s a sneak peek at three things we discussed in the episode that can help you get started on your artistic journey.


Here’s what you’ll learn when you listen to our conversation:
► Why taking back the artistic vision will actually make for happier clients.
► How to stop worrying about sharing what makes you special as a teacher.
► Why being a late bloomer in your industry can be a great perk.
► How she runs forums and offers online classes in different formats.
► What you’ll learn from Sue’s two fantastic books.

Find What You’re Passionate About

Sue didn’t expect to fall in love with floral arranging. She took on a wedding as a favor to a friend, and as she said:


“When I was designing flowers [for the first time], I really had this moment where everything kind of stopped, and I got chills, and I thought to myself, ‘This feels so right and so good. I think this is what I’m supposed to do’”


Even after she figured out that she wanted to be a florist, she still took time to find her niche. After several years, she discovered that she loved teaching. You need to do the same. Maybe you love creating large installations, but you don’t know it yet. As we discussed in more depth the episode, give yourself room to breathe sometimes so that you can watch for that moment of clarity that Sue had.


Give Yourself Time

 Many of us, like Sue, are late bloomers to our industries. That can actually be a great benefit! Before Sue found flowers, she made jewelry. That shows in her work today. She is very well known for how she uses her floral art on the body in stunning ways. 

You need time to gain experience and to learn. You need time to find what you are truly passionate about. That’s okay. This isn’t a race. This is a journey to find what will bring you joy as a paper florist.


Try Different Artistic Styles

 Those who are new to paper flowers or any artistic industry need to try different things out. They need to learn, and that usually means trying on different styles that closely follow more experienced artists. We had a fantastic discussion on the podcast about mimicking others and making ideas your own, both from the perspective of newbies and more experienced artists/teachers.


“You teach because you want people to be better than you. Because you enjoy the idea that you can participate in elevating your industry. That’s why you teach.”


On the one end, teachers need to help newer artists find their style. Sue told us about a formative experience that taught her what kind of teacher she wanted to be. You can hear the interesting details in the episode, but in short, it made her very passionate about sharing as much information with her students as possible. As she said, “You teach because you want people to be better than you. Because you enjoy the idea that you can participate in elevating your industry.”


Our thoughtful discussion went much deeper into both teaching as an experienced creator and learning by mimicking. If you’ve felt unsure about either of those issues, make sure to listen.


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