Creative Family Series | Leslie Fandrich of Lights and Letters
Leslie Fandrich is a woman of mettle. Last May, she organized a wave of responses to the meme 25 Things I’m Afraid to Tell You. While the challenge was bold, it was Leslie’s raw honesty about her past, and her journey since, that showed her true spirit.
The bravery that comes through in her photography, writing and storytelling, is an extension of her life: “…when I [told my parents] I wanted to be a photographer they told me I should try nursing instead. I definitely had to forge my own path.”
I am honored to have Leslie here today to share her thoughts on art, creativity, parenting and family life.
How would you define creativity?
Creativity is the drive to create something that didn’t exist before. Art, music, writing, crafts, photography and dance all fall under that category for me. Even things like cooking and architecture can be done creatively. It’s the ability to make something you imagine real.
Have you always considered yourself creative?
Not always. I knew I liked my art classes in school the most when I was as young as 5th grade. It was in 9th grade when I think I started identifying as an artist. I discovered photography in High School and decided to go to art college. In collage I veered towards the practical and pursued creative avenues that would pay off my student loan and get me to New York, like graphic design and website design. I left work to raise my family and now six years into being a stay at home mom I am rediscovering my artistic roots and getting back to photography and painting.
How do you nurture your own creativity?
I make sure that I have enough alone time to be creative. I started taking online classes. I look at art in books, magazines and galleries. I buy art supplies. I am trying to create a studio space that is set up better for spontaneous creating. I am friends with artists.
Did you grow up in creative household? If so, what were some of the ways your parents nurtured your creativity and curiosity?
Not in the traditional sense. My parents are not artists and when I said I wanted to be a photographer they told me I should try nursing instead. I definitely had to forge my own path. But they did instill in me a sense of curiosity, an independent spirit and a love for the outdoors. All of which I think are critical for an artist to have.
How do you hope to nurture it in your children?
In any way that I can. They are still a bit young, but I make sure they have plenty of art supplies, musical instruments, books and crafts. They love imaginative play right now and we make a big deal about their art projects. We also try to turn off the TV as much as possible.
What are some of your favorite ways to spend time together as a family?
Hiking and geocaching. Vacations in Canada or in Cape Cod with family. We eat dinner together every night. My youngest is still fairly young at 3.5, so our adventures are still pretty limited, but I look forward to them getting older and us being able to do more things with them. Just lately we have begun to enjoy movie nights, especially at the drive in!
How have you been able to integrate work with pursuing your creative passions?
I’m trying. Actually I call my creative alone time “working”, but I tend to associate real work with making money. I am trying to figure out how to have a creative career that provides an income and it’s difficult because I’m not a natural business person, I just want to make art. I’m trying to teach myself the business side as well and it’s just not as much fun. I have found that talking to others who have made creative careers for themselves to be very helpful, to find out from them what business practices work for them.
Tell us how you got into photography and writing?
I started borrowing my Dad’s SLR film camera when I was 14 and loved taking black and white pictures. In High School, I took a photography class and began learning processing and printing, composition and subject matter and I was hooked. I attended art school and learned about all kinds of creative practices there. In 2005 I started a blog and my writing just got better and better with each post that I did. I really enjoy telling stories with both my pictures and with my words.
What are you working on now?
I’m taking a painting class and really enjoying learning the foundations of art. I’ve always been a collage artist or a photographer, but painting is so different. I love the process though and wonder why I didn’t get involved in it sooner! I’m also trying to further my photography practice and just shot a wedding. It was really fun, but it was also a very non-traditional wedding. I’d love to write a book too and I try to spend a little time each day making sure that I fulfill all three aspects of my creativity: photography, art and writing.
From time to time everyone’s creative juices wane. How do you handle that?
I take a break. I get outside, spend time with my family or find an adventure. I love to visit museums, read books, look at artwork. I do battle with myself over the feeling that I am wasting time. I have so many projects that I want to work on, I sometimes feel like I should always be working on something. I have to remind myself that I can’t be producing all the time and it’s an important part of the process to make lists and plan and read and experience things too. I think I also have the luxury of switching between my three interests. If the writing isn’t happening, I can edit photos, if I get tired of that I can work on a painting. It’s good for me to have a few different things to work on.
You can read more of Leslie’s words and view her work on Lights and Letters.