I was happy to stumble across Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech delivered at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA this year. I strongly urge anyone starting out in an arts field or any other field to watch and listen, but also anyone already deeply entrenched in their respective field. Refreshing, encouraging, and sure to make you laugh.
Some of my favorite takeaways:
“When you start out on a career in the arts, you have no idea what you’re doing. This is great. People who know what they’re doing know the rules, and they know what is possible and what is impossible. You do not. And you should not. The rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them, and you can. If you don’t know what’s impossible, it’s easier to do. And because nobody’s done it before, they haven’t made up rules to stop anyone doing that particular thing again.”
“When things get tough, this is what you should do: make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Someone on the internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, eventually time will take the sting away, and that doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best. Make good art. Make it on the bad days. Make it on the good days, too.”
“So be wise, because the world needs more wisdom. And if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise and then just behave like they would.”