ARTIST INTERVIEW: Anna Morton of Leaves & Flowers
Company: Leaves and Flowers
Artist: Anna Morton
Leaves and Flowers has long been a favorite of tea lovers who visit the Echo Park Craft Fair. They are a California based tea company offering a unique selection of handcrafted botanical infusions and premium small batch teas, founded in 2014 by Anna Morton and Emily Erb.
Anna and Emily utilize locally grown botanicals to create their infusions, in hopes of offering a botanical experience that honors the beauty and lore of the plants. Inspiration comes from the plants themselves – the mythology of their medicine, their potent leaves, delicate flowers, and the intoxicating aroma and flavor they release when infused. Leaves and Flowers botanical infusions are produced by hand in small batches in their California workshop.
Describe the path that led you to the work you do now.
I wasn’t the kind of young person who knew what I wanted to do or be, so a lot of my twenties I spent wandering around. Slowly though my interests and experiences started to point me in a direction. I made my way to India in 2011 to study Yoga and Ayurveda. I had practiced Yoga since I was 17 and felt a deep resonance to the science of Ayurveda. I lived with an Ayurvedic doctor for 6 weeks in a small village in Southern India and learned many of the native plants he used in his practice. I returned to the US wanting to learn more about herbal medicine traditions of the world. I enrolled in an herbal studies program in Northern California and spent the following year growing, harvesting, drying, and tasting medicinal plants (mostly native to California). Around that time Emily and I were becoming fast friends and talking a lot about what I was learning. I wanted others to discover the beauty, potency and flavor of culinary and medicinal plants, the same way I was. Somehow through our conversations and shared interest we developed the idea for Leaves and Flowers and things moved pretty quickly from there.
How do you find a balance between practicality and beauty in your creations?
This is actually quite hard for me. I’m lucky to have Emily (my business partner) to help realign some of my more whimsical ideas with a practical lens. The desire to have what we do be accessible has also helped me find that balance. Not that beauty isn’t accessible but creating something that is too precious or conceptual just doesn’t land on most people, and truthfully isn’t that interesting. So, keeping that in mind has helped guide me and direct how we evolve our product / brand.
Who are some current artists, creators, or people working in other fields whose work you admire?
Oh, there are so many I could name! Some of whom are so dear to my heart. My friend Laura Schoorl, owner of Pansy, is someone I deeply admire creatively. She seems to have the creative force of 5 people, and is refreshingly original, playful, and inclusive in her approach. She is also fiercely committed to the environment and doing things ethically and sustainably, using her company as a platform to speak up and engage with others on the important issues of our time.
Jessica Niello-White is another dear friend and incredibly talented artist. She is currently living in NY and getting her MFA in painting at Pratt. I have loved watching her skill develop over the years, and she’s one of my favorite people to talk to about the creative process. She’s so free and curious in herself and that freedom is evident in her work. It’s so inspiring.
Did you have any artists or creative people in your family? If so, how did they influence you?
My grandmother was a quietly creative person who influenced me greatly. She had a striking elegance that infused into everything she touched. Before she became a mother of 4, she had a radio show for kids and read children’s stories. She also played the guitar and sang songs. How she influenced me most though was through her cooking. She was a phenomenal cook and took great pleasure in gathering our (very big) family around a meal. She died a few years ago but I think of her a lot, and how everything she did was so thoughtful and beautiful.