If art is an interpretation of the observable world, then the artist's work is a negotiation between the literal and the imagined. Many botanic artists fall heavily towards the former. Their art is admired for faithful reproductions of plant subjects and whether out of reverence for their beauty—"I couldn't possibly improve on this exquisite blossom"—or adherence to a scientific imperative—"My purpose is to document the form, aphids and all"—they work toward an accurate representation of the botanic world.
I once visited a terrarium designer in the downtown commercial district of Los Angeles. It was an airy loft space, where glass cases were stacked as high as the ceiling, pencil sketches covered the walls, and young orchids grew alongside bookmarked horticulture books. Reptiles and ferns rustled in a dark back room. Dust and debris floated through the large windows from the bustling open air market two floors below.