In 2012, Neil Gaiman gave a speech to the graduating class of art students at the University of Philadelphia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plWexCID-kA

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

  • 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?)
  • Make your end-state desire a distant mountain. Every time you need to decide between two paths, or just pickĀ the next thing to do, make sure it is a step towards the mountain.
  • 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.
  • Making art is like sending out messages in bottles. Maybe one in a thousand will come back to you.
  • Don’t do it for the money, because if the money falls through at least you’ll have the art.
  • 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:

  • a pleasure to work with;
  • someone who does good work;
  • someone who delivers work on time.

Pick two.