Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. "Make Good Art" PDF. By. tralma // spellementary. Neil Gaiman's Keynote Address has inspired me a lot in the past few years, and with the opportunity to see him.
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The following is the full transcript of the commencement speech “Make Good Art” delivered by Neil Gaiman to the University of the Arts Class of. and dreamers to MAKE GOOD ART. This book, designed by renowned graphic artist Chip Kidd, contains the full text of Gaiman's inspiring speech. Whether. (you have no idea what you are doing. this is great. if you don't know it's impossible it's easier to do) make up your own rules if you have an idea, just do it . MAKE.
Make glorious, amazing mistakes. So potent and enlivening was his advice on courage and the creative life that the speech was adapted into Make Good Art public library — a gem of a book designed by none other than Chip Kidd. When things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. 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.
Looking back, I've had a remarkable ride. I'm not sure I can call it a career, because a career implies that I had some kind of career plan, and I never did. I didn't have a career. I just did the next thing on the list. So I thought I'd tell you everything I wish I'd known starting out, and a few things that, looking back on it, I suppose that I did know. And that I would also give you the best piece of advice I'd ever got, which I completely failed to follow.
First of all: When you start out on a career in the arts you have no idea what you are doing. This is great. People who know what they are doing know the rules, and know what is possible and 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 it'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 again, yet.
Secondly, If you have an idea of what you want to make, what you were put here to do, then just go and do that. And that's much harder than it sounds and, sometimes in the end, so much easier than you might imagine. Because normally, there are things you have to do before you can get to the place you want to be. Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be — an author, primarily of fiction, making good books, making good comics and supporting myself through my words — was a mountain.
A distant mountain. My goal. And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain.
I said no to editorial jobs on magazines, proper jobs that would have paid proper money because I knew that, attractive though they were, for me they would have been walking away from the mountain. And if those job offers had come along earlier I might have taken them, because they still would have been closer to the mountain than I was at the time. I learned to write by writing. I tended to do anything as long as it felt like an adventure, and to stop when it felt like work, which meant that life did not feel like work.
Thirdly, When you start off, you have to deal with the problems of failure. You need to be thickskinned, to learn that not every project will survive. A freelance life, a life in the arts, is sometimes like putting messages in bottles, on a desert island, and hoping that someone will find one of your bottles and open it and read it, and put something in a bottle that will wash its way back to you: appreciation, or a commission, or money, or love.
And you have to accept that you may put out a hundred things for every bottle that winds up coming back. The problems of failure are problems of discouragement, of hopelessness, of hunger. You want everything to happen and you want it now, and things go wrong. It should have paid me a lot of money. If the publisher hadn't gone into involuntary liquidation between the first print run selling out and the second printing, and before any royalties could be paid, it would have done.
And I shrugged, and I still had my electric typewriter and enough money to pay the rent for a couple of months, and I decided that I would do my best in future not to write books just for the money. If you didn't get the money, then you didn't have anything. If I did work I was proud of, and I didn't get the money, at least I'd have the work.
Every now and again, I forget that rule, and whenever I do, the universe kicks me hard and reminds me. I don't know that it's an issue for anybody but me, but it's true that nothing I did where the only reason for doing it was the money was ever worth it, except as bitter experience. Usually I didn't wind up getting the money, either. The things I did because I was excited, and wanted to see them exist in reality have never let me down, and I've never regretted the time I spent on any of them.
The problems of failure are hard.
The problems of success can be harder, because nobody warns you about them. The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now they will discover you. In my case, I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard I don't know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did would be there, to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn't consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read.
And then I would go away quietly and get the kind of job where you don't have to make things up any more. The problems of success.
They're real, and with luck you'll experience them. The point where you stop saying yes to everything, because now the bottles you threw in the ocean are all coming back, and have to learn to say no.
I watched my peers, and my friends, and the ones who were older than me and watch how miserable some of them were: I'd listen to them telling me that they couldn't envisage a world where they did what they had always wanted to do any more, because now they had to earn a certain amount every month just to keep where they were.
They couldn't go and do the things that mattered, and that they had really wanted to do; and that seemed as a big a tragedy as any problem of failure. And after that, the biggest problem of success is that the world conspires to stop you doing the thing that you do, because you are successful.
There was a day when I looked up and realised that I had become someone who professionally replied to email, and who wrote as a hobby.
I started answering fewer emails, and was relieved to find I was writing much more. Fourthly, I hope you'll make mistakes. If you're making mistakes, it means you're out there doing something. And the mistakes in themselves can be useful. You have the ability to make art. And for me, and for so many of the people I have known, that's been a lifesaver.
The ultimate lifesaver. It gets you through good times and it gets you through the other ones. Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong.
And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art. I'm serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? IRS on your trail? Cat exploded? Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it's all been done before?
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