July 17, 2018

FLOWERS ARE FOR LOVERS

The anonymous artist behind the blooms

The corner of Skillman and Live Oak is unremarkable. Traffic lights, crosswalks, dive bar, gas station. And yet, a bright pink spot sets it apart. The Exxon’s abandoned pay phone—how do these still exist?—has been transformed with clusters of flowers in the shape of a heart. The unexpectedness brings a moment of joy to passerbys—a notable exception to an otherwise banal parking lot.

As it turns out, the work is one of several in the country, including others in Dallas, Brooklyn, and Oklahoma City. Our original plan was to name the anonymous artist and tell their story. But after talking with the floral Bansky, thought otherwise. Sometimes it’s nice to keep an element of mystery.

When did you create the first Flower Phone? And is that what we should call them? 
The first one was completed in October 2017. They can be called by any name—no specific title. Once I’ve made one and installed it, it’s for the people. The process is my satisfaction.

Do you install these by yourself? 
I’ve had people lend and extra hand to help me install them. It’s cool to involve friends who wouldn’t normally do something like this. I hope it excites or inspires them in some way, too.

How do you scout locations? 
I’ve kept them mostly in East Dallas, because I love that area and think the community is most accepting of them and finds them enjoyable. There’s no real method to scouting. If I find a phone, more than likely I already have plans for it.

Are you originally from Dallas?
I grew up north of Dallas proper, but I’ve loved downtown and old East Dallas from an early age when I would ride the train to skate around the city. I’ve been skateboarding for over 15 years and it’s brought me around a lot of different people: artists, musicians, etc. That’s how I was introduced to the street art sub-culture.

Do you work as an artist full-time?
I don’t currently make any money as an artist. I work a day job to foot the bills. These projects are for the soul.

What inspired you to do this? 
What started me was heart break . Being heart broken is one of the worst feelings. You feel alone. I started thinking about how many other people feel alone, sad, or depressed. It got me thinking that I could create something for someone whom I’ve never met that would let them know they’re not alone.

My depression was over a girl and a relationship with a lot of miscommunications. This generation’s reliance on texting and social media is something I find very shallow. I enjoy talking face-to-face or over long talks on the phone—it’s more intimate. Most people pay no attention whatsoever to pay phones, but I imagine a lover in a simpler time calling their significant other—thrilled to hear their voice on the other end. Phones used to be something special and intimate. We’ve lost that. So in a way, these are reminders to call your loved ones. Talk more. Be intimate and have more in-depth conversations.

What are some of the responses you’ve gotten?
Great things. A good amount of people say these have made their day or made them smile. My favorite was: “It felt like a showcase of the not-shitty part of humanity.” That one really made me feel good. A lot of people just say “thank you,” which is somewhat strange, but really nice and affirming.

Technology has an interesting connection to ephemera, because devices are often obsolete when the next version comes out a year later. Is there a direct connection in that way to flowers?

I started in winter because I liked that while everything around us is dying, the faux flowers would still bring beauty during a cold, dark part of the year. They also serve as a reminder that if beauty isn’t present, it can always be created.

The Details: Stop and smell the virtual roses at @flowersareforlovers