Behind The Flame: An Interview With FireFlower

Written by Ana Candelaria

I first met FireFlower in the summer of 2019 at the Shooters Street Art Hunt for SacSix. A few months later, I spotted a fresh FireFlower wheatpaste in Freeman’s Alley. Its bold color scheme caught my attention from afar. I instantly became excited upon finding the work at the prospect of discovering a new artist. In the midst of the alley’s gray walls was a beautiful face, ablaze amongst tattered layers of decaying wheatpaste. There was an underlying mystery in her eyes, ensconced in a sea of bright fire flames. For me, the art represented strength. I absolutely loved it. Her beautiful and vividly colored wheat pastes can be found throughout the East Village and in some parts of Queens and Brooklyn. Intrigued by her creation, I recently had the pleasure of a phone interview with the Queens-based artist to discover what sparked FireFlower’s flame.


Art by @fire__flower // Photo provided by artist


FireFlower grew up in the Metro Detroit area of Michigan, where wheatpasting art wasn’t really a thing. She didn’t have dreams of becoming an artist as a child, though she did explain, “I’ve been drawing my whole life.” Later in her youth, FireFlower parlayed this talent into a graphic design degree from CCS College of Creative Studies. 


FireFlower told me she eventually came to be part of the Michigan-based non-profit organization the Helpful Hunter, but “ had to part for personal reasons.” When one door closes, another one opens, and her newfound vacancy allowed the artist more time to explore hobbies. She recalled, “The EDM Festival (electronic dance music) theme became my new thing.” FireFlower continued, “I found everything about it to be inspiring from house music to Detroit techno and all the genres in between. Also, the motion graphics were super captivating and inspiring.” 


Art by @fire__flower // Photo provided by artist


Amongst this vibrant atmosphere, a revelation dawned upon the fledgling creative in 2011. “I was at a music festival and thought about the name FireFlower as they were letting off fireworks during half time,” she recalled. “I thought that if I came up with a name that I could let go of what I was, and still keep the memory but just move forward and give the name new meaning time and time again. I identify the fire to be the first step in any process because it provides the initial spark or the inspiration for an idea. Every process begins with fire and then grows, similar to like a plant would. It then evolves into the most colorful and unique part – a flower.” She also went on to state that “it was a pivotal moment in my life when I thought of the name.” 


Art by @fire__flower // Photo provided by artist


FireFlower moved from Michigan to New York in January 2016, a change of pace that ultimately spurred a new phase in her career. She got a job as a graphic designer for corporate brands, but found the work “wasn’t enough in terms of a creative outlet…I needed to create something for myself and that is why I created FireFlower.”


“I used the fire beam of light that runs through the female as my staple or signature as part of my branding.” – FireFlower


She allowed FireFlower to evolve of its own accord, and stated, “I like it when things happen organically.” She found herself attracted to incorporating light. “If I see a reflected and refracted light,” she explained, “I will photograph it and use it to create a graphic design. I start in my sketchbook and use my computer as a tool to create my idea.” From there, she continued, “I basically scan my sketch and work on any edits if need be and then I print my design and paint over it.” She’s adapted this process to suit various surfaces, including canvas and wood panels. “I will hand-design a stencil and spray paint over it. I used the fire beam of light that runs through the female as my staple or signature as part of my branding.”


Art by @fire__flower // Photo by @a_candela_photography


FireFlower told me she’d started putting work in the streets around September, citing City Kitty and Hiss as her inspirations. “ I didn’t have intentions of making the same character,” she confided. “I wanted them to be different with a similar spirit or essence of what she represents, a strong female evolving into her best self.” 


Art by @fire__flower // Photo by @a_candela_photography


Inspired by Bassnectar and motion graphics, FireFlower added, “I listen to smooth sounds like Lofi Hip Hop, Chill beats, Trap Phone and bass mix. It helps set the scene for me to create. I’m inspired by Es Devlin’s talent as a stage designer. I love her use of language, music, and lighting. I also admire Mc Escher’s graphic design work, his Bee Metamorphosis piece is one of my favorites. I’m obsessed with bees because they are designers and mathematicians.”


All the while, she continues to perfect her craft, including a new project which involves “re-visiting old sketches and digital works to revamp and give new life.”


She’s combined these inspirations to manifest a variety of new projects. Some have pushed her to new mediums, like the Art through Vintage auction organized by The Flood and East Village Vintage Collective. The artist painted onto a denim jacket, and remarked, “I’ve never painted on fabric before, so it was a learning experience but it was fun.” She transformed her work into a coloring page for SacSix’s Art Clinic initiative on the Lower East Side and donated a piece for the Art for Food auction to benefit those financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. All the while, she continues to perfect her craft, including a new project which involves “re-visiting old sketches and digital works to revamp and give new life.”FireFlower has also explored her creativity through collaboration, recently completing a piece with Queendom. She did note, however, that her partnerships must come about naturally. “It needs to be organic if it does happen, so that way it doesn’t feel like work,” she said.  


Art by @fire__flower // Photo provided by artist


FireFlower’s flame can’t be tamed. Her bold colors will draw you in so close you’ll feel her energy pulsating.  She’s never afraid to experiment or push the envelope and take things to the next level. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her work on the streets, and I’m even more excited to witness what she comes up with next.