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The new wave of Insta-creatives using flowers in their art

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These five women are showing the world that you can do far more with flowers than just put them in a vase.

A new wave of creatives on Instagram is showing the world that flowers are for more than just arranging. Take Jess de Wahls, for instance, who tackles subjects such as gender inequality and consumer culture with her colourful embroideries full of figures and flowers. Or Dutch fashion designer Liselore Frowijn, who incorporated flowers in new and inventive ways into the Afropolitan collection that she presented at Amsterdam Fashion Week. Or Jess Shepherd, who goes by the name of Inky Leaves and paints larger-than-life watercolours of flowers that have earned her over 18 thousand followers on Instagram. Or the Berlin-based flower artist Jil Berner, who is the face behind Kopflegenden and has gained a sizeable following by making tastefully crafted flower crowns that throw shade all over your Coachella headpiece. Tattoo artist Alena Makhalovski etches her delicate art works into the skin of her customers at a Paris-based tattoo shop.

For these young painters, designers and artists flowers are an intrinsic part of their art. Whether for aesthetic reasons, symbolism or both, flowers help them to express their point of view and get their message across.

We asked Jess de Wahls, Liselore Frowijn, Jess Shepherd, Jil Berner and Alena Makhalovski to pose with their favourite flower and tell us what they like so much about it. 

Liselore Frowijn (NL)

“I really like peonies and anemones. I don’t love them all to the same extent – I especially like the ones that are very elegant and expressive. I like flowers that are just a little bit different than the rest. I think flowers and fashion are a fascinating combination. And it’s not a new thing either – some African tribes have been decorating their hair with flowers for centuries.“



Jess Shepherd - Inky Leaves (UK)

“My best paintings are of plants that I‘ve seen grow over time and change over the seasons. I have to get to know the plant first, see its personality. I really like the Agapanthus, which is the flower of love. It reminds me of my childhood — it was my mother’s favourite flower for a while.”



Jess de Wahls (UK)

“I love embroidering flowers. They lend themselves really well to the medium. I use a lot of poppies – I’ve even got them tattooed on me – and I like peonies and chrysanthemums. They’re rough around the edges, not like a rose. I prefer wild flowers, flowers that are a little otherworldly.”


Jil Berner (DE)

“I love the Cosmos atrosanguineus, also known as the chocolate cosmos – it’s really small, smells like chocolate and petals look like velvet. The beautiful thing about fresh flowers is that they’re just here for the moment. You only get to enjoy them temporarily. I feel like that makes for an interesting contrast with our modern-day digital era, in which we’ve gotten used to the fact that every picture or word that we post remains online forever.”


Alena Makhalovski  (FR)

“I grew up in Norilsk, the northernmost city of Siberia, where there aren’t even any trees — there’s only snow. I didn’t see my first flower until I went on summer holiday to my grandma’s house in Russia. I couldn’t stop staring at all of the sunflowers in her garden. They looked so strange yet gorgeous to me. I still prefer strong flowers with big stems. I especially love lilies and all types of Orchids.”

When giving someone a flower, don’t just give any flower. Make it special, and give them their favourite.  

Photography: Fiona Makkink