Make Good Art

by Randy Murray on June 14, 2012

Yesterday’s Required Reading featured author Neil Gaiman. Gaiman is a remarkable author, someone who really has a voice. It’s clear, articulate, and has a pacing and rhythm that captivates me. It’s clearly his voice.

I was reminded of this recently when I watched the video of Gaiman delivering the commencement speech for the 2012 graduating class of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. It was brilliant, touching, funny, and completely Gaiman. And hearing him deliver it, hearing him read his speech in his own speaking voice, reinforces my great admiration for him. If you haven’t yet seen it, it is twenty minutes well invested.

Here’s the video:

There are many, many excellent things he has to say in this speech, but the most important of them all is this: make good art. It doesn’t matter what happens to you—just make good art. And on this he is remarkably spot on.

Sometimes life is 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 go wrong, when they get tough, this is what you should do: make good art.

Others may get angry and strike out at others. Some may seek revenge. Some may sulk and withdraw. Some may turn inwards and disappear. Some may complain. Some may quit. But if you make good art you’ll triumph.

This is true.

My youngest daughter, an art student, recently pointed at the hundreds of names that floated by on the movie screen, the credits. “When someone asks me what an art school degree means I tell them to look at this,” she said.

“Tell them to point to any non-natural object around them,” I told her. Someone made that. An artist.

We all need to be musicians and dancers and builders. Makers. Artists. Because that’s what humans do with adversity and challenge.

We make art.

Raise your sights, set your goals to do more than just make art. Make good art.

See also this wonderful illustration of Gaiman’s words.

Copyright © 2012 Randy Murray. All Rights Reserved.

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