Leslie David is a graphic designer and illustrator living the dream – a bustling career in Paris toting a portfolio packed with high profile clients from Colette to Chloe and Pucci to Miu Miu. Her range is extraordinary, designing patterns for fashion collections, covers for CD labels and art directing magazine issues. But perhaps her boldest career move to date? Dropping out of college.
Leslie grew up on a farm in the south of France, a very Little House on the Prairie sort of childhood. “Of course I watched that show and hated Nelly Flanders,” she jokes. But rather than milking cows and feeding chickens, she spent the bulk of her days by the side of her mother, a working artist. “She was always giving me little exercises, like fruit or flowers to draw in still life as I played being her assistant,” she writes. And in those moments, Leslie knew she wanted to incorporate art into her career and began experimenting with a variety of creative disciplines over the years, eventually embarking on a path to becoming a graphic designer.
After attending the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs for three years and honing her craft, Leslie David applied for an internship with her dream company, Petronio. Delighted with her brilliant portfolio, she didn’t get the internship – and instead, was offered a job. “This offer confronted me with the decision to leave school,” Leslie writes in an interview with Freunde von Freunden. “I had one year left before graduating. I thought about it, hesitated and finally left. I’ve never regretted the choice I made that day.”
It’s an inspiring idea, to pluck yourself from your surroundings and trust in the adventure ahead. To actively and fervently pursue Plan A without the Fireman’s trampoline of school or safety or normalcy beneath you. To puddle jump – seeking passion and purpose – risking a pair of soaked trousers and ruined shoes.
I had the most glorious pair of rain shoes as a kid. They were jelly shoes, perfect for toe-pinching and blisters, but also enormously handy for puddle jumping in style. They were perennially soiled – muddied from adventure – and they sat in the garage daily, sandwiched between coolers and snow shovels. And I kept thinking about those shoes last night as it stormed, wanting so badly to swing open the garage door of my childhood home, recover my jelly shoes and run outside into the back lawn, to twirl and dance until my clothes soaked and lips quivered. But I don’t have those shoes. I grew out of them.
My shoes now are lined in my closet, neat and tidy. Scuffed with routine and order and array, marked with expectations. Miniature Fireman’s trampolines, ready for safety and protection, but not adventure. So today, I’m taking a cue from Leslie and my jelly shoes. You can’t play in rainstorms without the proper footwear. And sometimes the proper footwear looks a lot like nothing at all.
(Or old jelly shoes. Either will do.)
p.s. More on adventure.