Neil Gaiman addressed the graduating class of 2012 at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia last Thursday, and the video is now online so we can glean the wisdom all those other suckers had to pay $34,840 per year to hear. Wait, hold up. $34,840 per year for an arts degree? Ha ha ha ha oh wow. And to think I went to the college which gave me free room and board, studied something unrelated to painting or writing, and yet still started a freelance painting career during college and make most of my income now off of freelance writing at home, wearing vodka-stained sweatpants. In your face, $140K college degrees. I’m living the dream.
I gave my first ever commencement speech to the graduating class of 2012 at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. I think I told them everything important that I knew about going out into the world and being an artist, so I may never need to give another one. [Neil Gaiman]
The video, along with several of our favorite quotes, is below.
“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.”
“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.
“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 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.”
“I hope you’ll make mistakes. If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something.”
“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? 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 good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.
“Make it on the good days too.”
“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”
Full transcript available at The University of the Arts.