Today we’d like to introduce you to Mike Asay.
Mike, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have always enjoyed creating artistic things and doing crafts, and also have my degree in illustration. I had some limited experience making paper structures but didn’t really think about making paper flowers until a year ago when our church asked me to help with decorations for an Easter event. I saw some large brightly colored paper flowers at an art gallery in Descanso Gardens and was able to see the general method of construction. I took the basic principles and added my own designs to create a photo wall of paper flowers for the Easter event, and it was a hit!
I didn’t think much about pursuing it as an art form or a side business until last Christmas when I was asked to do another photo wall for the church Christmas party. I decided to do stay within a simple wintery color palette of white, silver, gold and iridescent. Everything was shimmering except the broad swathes of white petals on the larger flowers, and it really succeeded in carrying the classic winter feel plus the sparkle of the holidays. That photo wall caused even more of a stir and a lot of people were telling me I needed to start a business – so here we are!
I’ve only been at it for about 4 months, but have already done a bridal shower photo wall, an anniversary event, and I’m working to prepare for two other wedding receptions.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I haven’t been in the game long enough to have noticeable ups and downs, but it has been a slow start. My first client was just earlier in March. I’ve been trying to focus on keeping my Instagram account active and engaging. I decided at the start of February to do a #100DaysOfFlowers challenge – where I create an original paper flower every day. It’s been a good exercise in creativity and has helped me discover some new designs, techniques and color options. It has also helped keep my Instagram feed alive with lots of color and variety. Most of the flowers I create for the challenge are somewhat experimental and are typically smaller than what would end up on a photo wall, but they could all be reproduced in a larger size if a client wanted it.
I’m fortunate that I’m able to travel a lot, but that does mean my “100 Days” challenge sometimes has to be put on hold.
Another challenge has been finding the time to put together a proper website for my business, so my Instagram page is basically serving as my main platform for now.
Please tell us about The Paperfellow.
I’m focusing primarily on photo walls or installation art. Paper flowers are becoming increasingly popular in weddings and other events, but also in storefront and window displays of fashion retailers. I would love to create paper art that would be seen by as many people as possible. There are many other people out there who are creating paper flowers, but they seem to be in two different categories. There are some who make incredibly detailed and hyper-realistic flowers that are a natural size (or miniature) – and then, there are others who seem to be using templates to create copies of maybe a dozen different styles of larger-than-life flowers in relatively generic shapes.
I’m trying to bridge that gap: where I’m inspired by nature and natural forms, colors, and textures – but then also take those organic shapes and enlarge them or apply unnatural finishes and just have a lot of fun with them. I really try not to make the same flower twice. If I need a grouping of similar flowers, I’ll make subtle changes between each one to keep them feeling unique. I pride myself on creating all my own patterns and cutting everything out by hand. I’ve never used a kit or someone else’s stencil.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I think because I am still in the “starting-out” phase, I’m learning new lessons and techniques each day. Something that has helped me maintain creative inspiration is a large collection of images on my Pinterest board. It’s sometimes daunting to try to think of something that hasn’t been done before, so having lots of good reference material is crucial.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @thepaperfellow