Botanical workshop at Bynd Artisan. / by erwin lian

Thank you, everyone, for your tremendous support.

Today is the last day for our watercolor botanical workshop at Bynd Artisan. The basic botanical workshop was conceived two years ago and over the span of these two years, I have learned so much about the arts, commerce, and life. Unknown to many, the workshop was first initiated due to a mistake made during our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. Though it is often frowned upon to declare mistakes in businesses, it was perhaps the most worthwhile chapter to share.

 Last session of Botanical Painting workshop. 

Last session of Botanical Painting workshop. 

 Last few sessions and we worked on Color temperature, color mixing and color theory. 

Last few sessions and we worked on Color temperature, color mixing and color theory. 

The best solutions and opportunities were often uncovered through accidental mistakes and random encounters. The reason is simple. Few would plan for mistakes and hence solutions from these uncalled-for events usually yield the most unique competitive advantages.. 3M's sticky pad, the Sony PlayStation, and many other products shared similar successes.

Background story:
During our Indiegogo campaign, we made a procurement mistake and accidentally ordered hot press instead of cold press paper. Unable to declare such a mistake to our backers, we flew in a new batch of paper from Italy.

 This was the entire stash of hot press paper from Fabriano.

This was the entire stash of hot press paper from Fabriano.

Despite a slight delay, we completed production and fulfilled all orders. Clueless with what we should do with hot press paper, the idea of a botanical workshop was proposed and I took up the challenge of creating teaching materials and started the class. Honestly, I didn't think the workshop would last for more than 2 months. My social media reach was limited and I wasn't confident that these classes could sustain. Thankfully over time, more knew about the workshops and it took off.  There were so many people to thank for this and I would like to give a big shout out to celebrity blogger, Yina Goh, Evonne Ng and all their beautiful blogger friends. They were among the earliest attendees and shared our workshop on their social network. 

 Celebrity Bloggers and their friends: Yina, Evonne, Tricia, Min, Reenie, Jess, Ying and Jeneen 

Celebrity Bloggers and their friends: Yina, Evonne, Tricia, Min, Reenie, Jess, Ying and Jeneen 

 Special thanks to Yina, Evonne and their friends for their support.

Special thanks to Yina, Evonne and their friends for their support.

The Botanical workshop also earned a feature on Time Out magazine and I met quite a number of distinguished guests through these workshops.

Some important things I learned from conducting these workshops:

1) Good work or great workshop won’t sell itself. On numerous occasions, I observed how Bynd Artisan’s sales team grind to get sales. They not only opened doors to invite passer-by to step into the shop, they also put in a lot of effort to introduce their products and our workshops. Talking to strangers, eliciting for their attention and educating them about products is not easy. I was especially moved when I witnessed how they educated customers about our art show. It’s remarkable because Art was so alien to them but they didn’t just leave our work there and gave up.

 I don't know how he does it.  But he is always breaking the ice and striking conversation with customers even when some can be so unfriendly. Sales team matter a lot and the hustle is real.

I don't know how he does it.  But he is always breaking the ice and striking conversation with customers even when some can be so unfriendly. Sales team matter a lot and the hustle is real.


2) For most, skills are secondary because the experience of accomplishing something new within 3 or 4 hours can be a lot more valuable than skills. This is why the workshops went through numerous iterations when I realized that what I taught was not achievable by most within 4 hours.

3) Network = net worth. On so many occasions, I have forgotten about this and regrettably wished that I have crafted more opportunities for participants to know one another. It’s an important element that I needed to integrate into future workshops.

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4) Through these workshops, people recognized my ability to paint botanical work and approached me for commission work. This is so interesting because I have never thought about painting flowers prior to these. I can paint them really well but I have never thought about them.  It’s ironic.

 A commission work painted for a local Bank.

A commission work painted for a local Bank.

5) Fresh flowers are worth it. I am one of those guys who used to think that buying flowers is a waste of money. However, when I painted real flowers, I noticed their differences and realized the importance of having them around.  Flowers are the epitome of life’s fragility and beauty’s impermanence. To put a monetary value to its lifespan is equivalent to a dollar value on one’s beauty and life. Though we technically never needed real flowers for our workshops, I love their presence and the sight of people getting flower is nice. One last reason to why I used real flowers is the fact that I love seeing Mr. Chong packing them back for his wife. It’s really nice to witness these candid act of love.

 A lot more work to prepare real flowers but I think its worth it. 

A lot more work to prepare real flowers but I think its worth it. 

 Mr Chong, master craftman at Bynd Artisan attended our workshop as well :) 

Mr Chong, master craftman at Bynd Artisan attended our workshop as well :) 

Speaking of which, I absolutely love this article written by Alisha Gorder on NYTimes Modern Love:
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/15/fashion/one-bouquet-of-fleeting-beauty-please.html

“Why do we send flowers? To make up for what is intangible? Those feelings we can’t hold in our hands and present as a gift to our loved ones? And why is it that the placeholders we choose — the dozen red roses, the fragrant white lilies, the long-stemmed French tulips — are so fleeting? Hold on to them for too long and you end up with a mess of petals, pollen, and foul-smelling water.” – Alisha Gorder

 Some earlier batches where the practise was a little tougher. 

Some earlier batches where the practise was a little tougher. 

This is it. Thank you, everyone, for your continued support. Thank you, Winnie, James, Kenny, Donavan, Grace, Mr. Chong, Corinne, Brandon and the entire team at Bynd Artisan for your years of trust, support, and work.

I will be setting up new sketching experience when I settle into another city.
Farewell , for now.