Photos by Collin Richie

The Creatives: Flower press artist and painter Kristen Serio

Kristen Serio

Hometown: Baton Rouge
Age: 26
Artistry: Flower press artist, painter, fitness specialist
Online: @arte_di_kristen on Instagram

Personal trainer Kristen Serio is used to pushing a lot of weight around, but for more than a year now, the CrossFit apostle’s eye for detail and zeal for adventure has had her sweating over another kind of heavy lifting.

“The fact is we need a challenge,” Serio says of her first steps as a maker. “It’s how we grow.”

Opening a canvas tote bag, the Baton Rouge native reveals wrapped bundles of small wildflowers, weeds and other sundry flora—forgotten stems she plucked from the ground while hiking with her family around the country. Each collection is marked by location: Colorado, North Carolina, Texas.

“This is like a diary,” she says, clutching the bundles like tactile memories of her travels.

Armed with a homemade woodblock press—Serio grew up learning woodworking from her father in his workshop—she flattens and dries the flowers and uses a resin mold technique to create art pieces, coasters, even jewelry.

When her sister was married last year, Serio took her bridal bouquet, pressed the flowers and laid them onto a wooden serving piece she covered in resin. Friends, family members and followers on Instagram who saw it soon began contacting her for custom orders.

Next, Serio called the Audubon Butterfly Garden & Insectarium and asked them what they do with their dead butterflies.

“That was an awkward conversation at first,” Serio says with a laugh. Eventually she found the one person responsible for butterfly removal, and they worked out a deal. Now translucent and vividly hued wings of some of the rarest species in Louisiana are centerpieces for the artist’s pendant necklaces and earrings.

To relax, Serio paints acrylic landscapes. Her favorite depicts the feeling of standing tall after a climb and looking down on a thick fog covering the valleys below like a blanket.

From gauging the precise temperatures of the resin pour to carefully handling the brittle textures of butterfly wings, Serio’s creativity is filled with tense moments of trial and error. But that’s how she likes it—both for her art and for her day job in fitness.

“Fitness is a form of creativity for me, thankfully,” she says. “Every body is different, so improving each body takes a creative, unique approach.”

For artists, Serio gives the same advice she does to someone she’s whipping into shape in the gym.

“You can’t wait for inspiration, and you’ll never find the perfect moment—you just have to get up and get moving,” Serio says. “It’s all about the start.”