Take Five with Lesley Malone
Lesley Malone is a great example of someone with a portfolio career as she is a photographer, artist, video-maker, writer, gardener and musician. As a photographer and writer, she specialises in contemporary landscape design, with her photography portfolio showcasing some recent work by UK landscape architects. She writes about current landscape issues in a monthly column for Pro Landscaper magazine. Lesley is also a drummer and percussionist with Seventh Harmonic, a a neoclassical ensemble. Lesley is responsible for the new headshots on my site and I am extremely pleased with them!
In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?
My professional life is quite a pick'n'mix at the moment (a 'portfolio career' I believe is the correct term). Along with my photography, I have a one-woman gardening business called Lovely Gardens. And I also write (my first book will be out in August and I'm just starting my second), make websites, copy-edit, and play drums in a couple of bands. So the single best thing for me is not being confined to a single role - I love being able to combine manual labour with more cerebral or creative work. In thirty years of salaried employment I never really had a sense of career direction, but now I'm self-employed I make a living from all sorts of stuff that I love doing, without all the bother of a manager, team meetings, annual appraisals, commuting, working in a horrible office, and all that soul-destroying ghastliness.
Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?
I'm not one for hero-worship really, but Joni Mitchell has my undying admiration. As well as creating some of the beautiful music and lyrics ever, she was a ground-breaking producer in her time, and is a highly talented painter. She's also endured major personal adversity from an early age, and horrendous music industry sexism throughout her career, but always radiated dignity, integrity, wisdom, and strength. A truly multi-talented original.
What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?
Don't think in terms of 'a career'. As a child, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. At 52 I still don't. I recently saw an interesting twist on the 'What would you like to be when you're grown up?' question that kids are regularly asked, rephrased as 'What problems would you like to help solve?' - a much more positive approach I feel, which also acknowledges alternatives to wage-slavery and soulless career paths, as well the option working for the greater good instead of personal gain.
If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?
Gardening. Gardening gets me though everything. A garden is full of lessons in thinking long-term, persistence, nurturing projects, problem-solving, creativity, and going with the natural flow instead of trying to force solutions. Whatever the question is, for me the answer is in my garden.
And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?
As someone who has zero interest in footwear, this is the most difficult question to answer of the five! I think my tough old vegan Doc Martens probably sum me up quite well: aged, scuffed and gnarly on the outside, but much softer than you'd think...