My name is Lisa Belisle AIFD, CFD, ICPF, and you may notice that my name has an extensive list of letters after my surname. This is because my passion in life is not only flowers but also education. For the last 20 years, I have immersed myself in the flower world doing a wide range jobs ranging from retail design to management and even international export sales. Every job or business that I have held has helped me learn about the entire industry.
I began my career surrounded by some of the top designers and judges for floral competitions in the world at that time. While nuzzling myself under their wings, I would constantly push myself to learn and master my skills. I did not know it at the time, but my mentors were preparing me for a lifetime of success.
The one thing I will always be grateful for is my style of design thanks to all the intense training and guidance from my teachers. As per usual, when you enter the world of floral design, the giant balls of flowers jammed in a pot is what you learn to create first. After mastering this technique, you continue on to learn asymmetrical designs and to balance and scale your taste. You become more discerned about choosing product—focusing on impact, lines, and focal point. Mastering all types of design, you may end up in the category I fall into: modern and architectural. At this point, you can break some of the rules and design becomes really fun as you create structures that really demonstrate you truly know the principles and elements of design.
Over the years, I recognized that I was meant to become a teacher. I absolutely love learning and then sharing the wisdom that I have collected. The first time I taught was when I spent a few years in Papua New Guinea. Here, my teaching and communication skills were really put to the test and I eventually found a method to teach the foreigners by using interpretive sign language. It has been mentioned by many of my students that my teaching style is easy to learn and execute.
Teaching in Chicago is a bit different than Papua New Guinea but the same principles apply. My school of thought is about patience and using common words that everyone can relate to and retain, all while observing and assessing my students’ progress. Sometimes I have to explain a lesson in an entirely different way to those who learn differently. I pay close attention to my students’ preferred learning styles so I can match the proper learning tools for their needs. For the visual learners, there are illustrations and how-to videos.For the hands-on learners, I make sure they can touch everything to understand its physical make-up and have the space and time to apply the principles being taught in order to for them to retain the information. And of course, there are my audio learners for whom I articulate instructions and provide the opportunity to practice. For some learners, I encourage to take notes and rewrite them the next day in order to fully process the lesson. All in all, I am proud to say that at my floral design classes, each student will find a learning method that is personalized for his or her needs.
Learning is growing. When you learn something new your world becomes bigger and open to creativity. I am a strong believer in evolving as an artist and that involves being open to new experiences. I encourage everyone to take classes. You may walk into a class not knowing the designer on stage and sometimes they might not blow you away. However, there is always something you can take away. I encourage my students to make it a goal to pick three concepts and find a way to apply them from each designer they watch. It is during such experiences where you might be inspired to combine ideas into something new that has never been done before.
I started Flora Elements Education and Design because I want to teach people the correct methods of design from the very start. It’s important to respect principles, elements, and methods of design to truly perfect your style. With high standards come industry leaders. I completed my ICPF certification with Illinois. Illinois State Floral Association has a program any florist can participate in and complete within a year to show basic floral design skills and use those credentials to show customers they truly are committed to education and creating industry standard arrangements. The credentials stand for Illinois Certified Professional Florist.
My next step to become an industry professional was taking the exams to be included in America’s most prestigious group, AIFD (American Institute of Floral Design). There are multiple layers to this process; however, if you pursue it, it is one of the most rewarding experiences. AIFD is a group that is dedicated to education and holding high standards of the floral industry.
I also hold a few positions on the WUMFA (Wisconsin Upper Michigan Floral Association) Conference committee. For the 2018 conference, I will be design room chair, design competition chair, and teaching a business session. My main intent and purpose of being on the design contest chair is to ensure that the competition categories are setting the designers up for success and not failure. Competitions are a way to stretch a designer’s imagination and showcase their skill set. Competitions are also a way to emphasize a designer’s skills by listening to the judges’ critiques. I am currently training for the Evaluators and Judges exam with AIFD so that I can help designers prepare for the PFDE exam and judge at competitions.
Taking classes at Flora Elements Education and Design will ensure from day one that you are receiving the best training from a certified designer and instructor.