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The artist's journey
on 17 July 2013
Make Good Art is the transcript of Neil Gaiman's commencement speech at the University of the Arts, Class of 2012. It's an inspiring message of encouragement to artists everywhere to keep doing what you want to do, no matter what, and contains some nice ideas and quirks that only Gaiman could conjure up to make it a memorable talk.
The whole thing is worth reading as its kind of an instructional manual to creativity by being anti-instructional. If you don't know it's impossible, it's easier to do, he says at one point, which is both strangely poetic and true. He tells you how he became the successful writer he is today - by writing. If you want to be a writer, be a writer, and keep writing. It's a simple message, one that many writers have stated before, but it's worth hearing again for anyone not doing it but still wishing they could become writers.
He talks about the lessons learned through the years, of dealing with failure, and to never do anything for money. His first book (I think it was on Duran Duran) was written because he thought it would be a commercial success, and was anything but. At least when you make something you love, even if you don't get paid, you've still got the art left. I also really liked the story he told about someone asking him for advice on doing something (I forget the particulars) and the solution was to tell her to pretend she was the kind of person who could do that. That's pretty brilliant. There's also a poignant moment when he reveals the best advice he ever received (from Stephen King no less) - but I'll let you discover that gem for yourselves.
A quick note about the presentation of this book - I generally like Chip Kidd's designs but the way he's formatted the speech in this book makes it less readable than it would be if it were simply straight text, which I would've preferred. Instead it's got varying fonts, colours, and sizes that I suppose takes the message of creativity on board but makes reading it a less pleasant experience. Alternatively, if you haven't the cash for this book, the speech is also on Youtube and Vimeo for free so you can watch Gaiman give the speech instead (recommended).
Make Good Art is a short but delightful message of art, choices, and the courage to do both - whatever happens, an artist makes art, whatever happens, you should make art too: so do it. Well worth a read for anyone really but especially for those who might need a good kick up the bum to get creating, whatever form that takes.
Keep going towards that mountain.