Society6 is a community of creatives from all over the world—diversity is what makes us, inspires us and allows us to see the world through others’ eyes.
We believe in celebrating this diversity every day, but we’re also thrilled to participate in the observance of Black History Month by sharing stories of outstanding black creatives. Over the next few weeks, get inspired as LA gallerist Maceo Paisley interviews four different artists, makers and community-shapers. This week is endlessly inspiring floral designer and owner of Bloom And Plume, Maurice Harris.
How do you describe your work?
I am the creator of Bloom & Plume and I am an artist who has figured out how to run a business where I get to actually be creative.
Did that fall in your lap or, how did you get here?
I am black. I never had the luxury of wondering “What am I going to do with my life?” or go soul searching. I am a survivor. I never thought I had anything relevant enough to say to be a full on artist, but I’ve always felt creative. I didn’t know that my parents would necessarily support me being an artist.
Let’s talk about that, what kind of opportunities did you have growing up?
Growing up in a middle class family in the suburbs, my parents just wanted me to have a better life than they had. They encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do, as long as it made money. I never thought that being an artist was a viable option. But since I was a kid, I have been obsessed with aesthetic. I was making flower arrangements even as a kid and I didn’t realize it until later from looking back at photos.
I ended up going into fashion design, because I thought that would be a nice compromise to be creative and make money. It’s really interesting to think about this stuff now because I was having these very intentional conversations with myself as a young person. We really have to go to great lengths to try to make our lives work the way our souls want them to, and a way that our mind feels okay with that correspondence.
Are you from California?
Yes, Stockton is in the house! I moved to LA for college at Otis. I started in fashion but ended up transferring to the fine art department. I knew how to do a lot of the technical work in junior college, but what I needed from college was to learn how to think outside of the realm I had been taught to think. I wanted to expand my horizons in a way that I didn’t already have access to.
When I got to Otis, I wanted to learn how to communicate my point of view. I’ve always had my own voice, in fact I am coming to realize that I am really not good at being anything but being myself. I just have to own it. I can’t commit very long to anything but who I am. Going to school was inspiring me, and that together with my best friend helped me to really explore my identity.
What drives you in this work?
I love my work on the calendar and it gets me going. I think I probably have lost money on it, but it doesn’t matter to me because it’s important to have a voice and be of service to other people. One of my jobs on this planet is to create inspirational content for people to experience, so if I can find a way to touch people that inspire me a little bit, that really drives me.
A few years ago I felt really stagnant and like no one was supporting what I was doing. The more I realized that if I keep doing my thing, try to stay creative and stay inspired. So sometimes it’s like, we have to look to the calendar because that is what excites me to come to work.
How do you talk about or identify your style in a world where there is a lot of content being made?
When I think of my style and the way that I create things, it goes back to, that I only know how to be myself. I try to use that to stay alive. There are certain things in my life that fuel the aesthetic that I have. My grandmother was so regal, and cooky, and over the top. I loved everything about how she presented herself. She was always so beautiful. Also my Mom is a creative person, and my Dad is extremely charismatic. We all strive for excellence and have an entrepreneurial side. That very much speaks to how I operate as well. When I was younger, I was obsessed with European fashion as the pinnacle of good taste so I studied it super hard. It definitely informs what I do today.
I am always taking in new things and learning so my work naturally evolves. I look at arrangements that we did 8 years ago and things change. I let go of what it has to be, I don’t overly plan the route, because it never goes that way. I just let the universe take me there so I just trust the process.
So now where are you going?
As I am finding success, my work has become more unattainable unless you have a certain degree of means. I want something that is a little bit more grounded in my community. Since I live and work in Echo Park I’ve always wanted a coffee shop that I could walk to. I think running one business is extremely hard, but running two is harder. I think opening a coffee shop will allow us to really connect to people. It will be opening in a few months, right next door to my studio.