In 2012, Neil Gaiman gave a speech to the graduating class of art students at the University of Philadelphia.

It’s a pretty inspiring piece, with a lot of great advice and big ideas. I’m putting down some notes as a personal reminder:

Getting started

  1. When you get started, you know nothing. This is good. If you don’t know what is “impossible”, it’s harder to fail/easier to do the impossible. (Or even thirteen impossible things?)
  2. Make your end-state desire a distant mountain. Every time you need to decide between two paths, or just pick the next thing to do, make sure it is a step towards the mountain.
  3. Make your own art. You may start by sounding like a lot of different people — that’s good — but eventually you will find your own voice and message. This is the uniqueness that you bring to reality. Nobody else can make your art.
  4. Making art is like sending out messages in bottles. Maybe one in a thousand will come back to you.
  5. Don’t do it for the money, because if the money falls through at least you’ll have the art.
  6. When you start to feel over-exposed, vunerable — that’s where you start making your own art.

And advice for keeping work? There are three things you can be:

  1. a pleasure to work with;
  2. someone who does good work;
  3. someone who delivers work on time.

Pick two.

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