Floriology instructor Donald Yim, AIFD, CFD, CAFA, PFCI, placed fifth at the World Flower Art Contest held in Beijing, China, August 15-26. Donald represented Canada in the competition that featured 33 designers from 31 countries including 4 from the host nation.
Finishing fifth out of 33 highly talented designers is a remarkable achievement, but Donald says he was there for the experience and personal growth above all.
“I like a challenge,” he says. “I like doing different things. What you’re used to doing is not my thing. I want to step outside the box and challenge myself. This competition gave me a lot of experience to find out what I’m good at and what I’m not so I can improve.”
The World Flower Art Contest presented Donald and the other competitors with unique challenges throughout the event.
In the opening round, each designer was asked to create three pieces. The first piece focused on structure, the second involved the creation of table art, and for the third piece organizers gave contestants a Chinese vase to decorate as part of an arrangement of their choice.
After the first round, half the field was eliminated, and the remaining contestants were given three more surprise challenges. Winners were notified with a letter placed under their hotel room door in the middle of the night. “It was a surprise,” Donald says.
His letter instructed Donald to report to an outdoor stadium, where the second and final stage of the contest was held in the August China heat. “Everyone was sweating,” he says with a laugh.
The designers had to finish two more pieces that day…and a third, because of a rainstorm, was created at a second location. They had two hours to create the first two pieces and the third piece was to be completed in just 90 minutes. Australian Mark Pampling won the competition.
In total, Donald won three medals — two silver and a bronze — for his three pieces.
“I guess I’m lucky,” Donald says. “All the people were the top designers in the world. I was honored to finish fifth. But to me, it’s not about a number or what place you are. There’s more value in learning how to do this because this was my first international competition. To place fifth, I was so happy. I can’t even describe how happy I am.”
While he may be at a loss for words about his finish, Donald was glad to offer advice for other florists planning to enter a competition.
“Prepare yourself mentally and physically, because you’re not just creating an arrangement,” he says. “For example, being in the sun and the heat, there was a lot of energy in two hours you had to give. So, you have to be mentally and physically fit. Keep training yourself. Considering what we do every day, we’re dealing with customers and every piece is a surprise package.”
And Donald adds, “Don’t look around, because you’re not going to have time and it can cause delays and mess up your thinking.”
To learn more about Donald, visit facebook.com/donald.yimaifd.