Anna Gragert
Updated Jun 10, 2016 @ 1:19 pm
Credit: Justina Blakeney

Designer Justina Blakeney has a knack for combining art and the unexpected – which is great because we love nothing more than a superb surprise. Thanks to her multicultural upbringing in Berkeley, California, the artist grew up with an appreciation for all thing bohemian and diversified. For the most part, this influenced Blakeney’s mix-and-match approach to home design and later seeped into all other areas of her creative life like a droplet of water making its way through rich soil.

At first glance, you may not think of plants as being an “unexpected” life form. After all, they grow all around us and, ya know, help us breathe clean and stuff. However, Blakeney has established that the ordinary can blossom into the extraordinary by way of her Face the Foliage series.

It all started when the artist was raking leaves one morning. Before her very eyes, it seemed as though an arrangement of fronds was smiling at her. Then, inspiration struck like a bolt of beautiful lightning! Blakeney grabbed a few leaves off the Earth’s floor and arranged them until she’d brought an entire face to life. And just like that, Face the Foliage began to sprout.

Credit: Justina Blakeney

To learn more about Blakeney’s plant-based process, we reached out to her and she kindly agreed to answer our questions.

And away we go…

HelloGiggles (HG): Profound question. Who is Justina Blakeney?

Justina Blakeney (JB): I’m a designer, blogger, artist, and momma with a bohemian heart! I love to travel, make things with my hands, spend time exploring Los Angeles with my family, and I love the feeling that comes with creating beauty from the unexpected.

Credit: Justina Blakeney

HG: How would you, personally, describe Face The Foliage?

JB: To me, Face The Foliage is an exercise, an art form and a movement that involves making portraits from leaves and flowers.

HG: What inspired you to create this series?

JB: The first time I “faced” the foliage, I myself was astounded by the fact that a leaf could be so expressive. The Bougainvillea petals really looked like a pouty pink lip, the eucalyptus leaves looked so much like eyebrows. From there, I started to share these works on my social channels and everyone else seemed to be just as astounded as I was and the movement caught on like wildfire!

Credit: Justina Blakeney

HG: Which Face The Foliage face is your favorite? Why?

JB: I don’t have a favorite. I love them all. They are each an expression of how I was feeling during a certain moment, and they capture a particular time in my life. It’s like a journal in a way.

HG: How do you go about creating these faces? And where does your inspiration come from when you set out to produce each individual face?

JB: I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but I just ‘play’ with the leaves and see what happens. But that’s how I am with all art – if I’m painting with a brush, or with petals, I kind of just play around until something looks ‘done.’ I don’t think too much about it beforehand. It’s more of an organic process for me. 😉

Credit: Justina Blakeney

HG: What do you love most about plants? And what’s your favorite plant?

JB: There is so much to love about plants. Plants are so generous. They provide us with food, shade, beauty, shelter, clean air, medicine… they are quite magical. I don’t think I have a favorite plant – depends on the purpose. I love the sculptural nature of cacti, I love to eat artichokes, I love to use the ointment from the aloe leaf if I get sunburned, I love the personality that a pony-tail palm lends to a room.

HG: Does your background in design help you when you’re creating these floral pieces?

JB: I think that I can’t help but be aesthetically driven in all that I do since I’m working on design and art everyday, BUT you most certainly don’t have to be a designer to participate in Face The Foliage. My three-year-old daughter makes amazing faces – as do people of all ages and backgrounds from all over the world!

Credit: Justina Blakeney

HG: What are you currently working on? Can we expect to see any more plant-based faces in the future?

JB: I’m currently very focused on my Justina Blakeney Home collections and my design blog, The Jungalow. Plants are a very integral part of what I do. My recently launched wallpaper collections feature large banana leaves, palm trees, and Philodendron leaves. I also have a collection of furniture launching this Spring that is pretty plantastic.

As for Face The Foliage, we’ve got some ideas in the pipe-lines, but for more plant-portrait fun, follow @FaceTheFoliage on Instagram, which is currently curated by the truly amazing foliage artists behind Sister Golden.

Credit: Justina Blakeney

HG: And just for fun, what’s your favorite color?

JB: Easy. GREEN!

All images reprinted with permission from the artist. Connect with Justina on her website, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.