‘Make good art’

Three years ago, Neil Gaiman delivered a commencement address to students at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. These brief extracts from his speech were addressed to young graduates but they are valuable reminders too for those who’ve been creating art for years. Not feeling that you know what you’re doing doesn’t make you a good artist – but it helps.

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.

Sometimes the way to do what you hope to do will be clear cut, and sometimes it will be almost impossible to decide whether or not you are doing the correct thing, because you’ll have to balance your goals and hopes with feeding yourself, paying debts, finding work, settling for what you can get.

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.

Where would be the fun in making something you knew was going to work?

Gaiman, N. and Kidd, C. (2013) Make good art. London: Headline

Best wishes for a happy, peaceful and creative 2016…

One thought on “New Year wisdom from Neil Gaiman

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