Tribe House Blog

Neil Gaiman's advice – make good art

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Posted : May 31st, 2012 by

Neil Gaiman recently gave an inspiring speech at the University of the Arts (2012). He leaves this graduating class with some gems of advice that any artist will be able to resonate with. As a bestselling author, Gaiman has long been one of the top writers in comics and is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers.

There is a peculiar sense of comfort to hear someone with such hefty credentials speak about their own failures and their mistake-ridden journey to success. In this 19 minutes speech, Gaiman talks openly about how he lied, copied, and failed to listen to advice from people like Stephen King.

At the core, his greatest advice is to simply “make good art“.

“And when things get tough, this is what you should do: make good art.
Husband runs off with a politician: make good art.
Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor: make good art.
IRS on your trail: make good art.
Cat exploded: make good a

Someone on the internet thinks what you're thinking is stupid or evil or it's all been done before: make good art.
Probably things will work out somehow. Eventually time will take the sting away and that doesn't even matter. Do what only you can do best: make good art.

Some of the pieces of advice that stood out were:

“I hope you make mistakes. If you make mistakes it means that you're out there doing something.”

“When you're starting out, It's not a bad thing to copy. Most of us only find our own voices after we've sounded like a lot of other people.”

It was also an interesting perspective to hear him talk about the fact that you only need 2 out of these 3 qualities to be successful as a freelance artist:

  1. Your work is good
  2. You're easy to get along with
  3. You deliver your work on time

“Be wise because the world needs more wisdom. And if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise and then just behave like they would.”

“Now go and make interesting mistakes. Make amazing mistakes. Break rules. Make the world more interesting for your being here.
Make good art.”
Neil Gaiman's Bio:

Neil Gaiman's work has been honoured with many awards internationally, including the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. His books and stories have also been honoured with 4 Hugos, 2 Nebulas, 1 World Fantasy Award, 4 Bram Stoker Awards, 6 Locus Awards, 2 British SF Awards, 1 British Fantasy Award, 3 Geffens, 1 International Horror Guild Award and 2 Mythopoeic Awards. Full list here.



One Response to Neil Gaiman's advice – make good art

  1. Kathy

    This is REALLY good! I love him as an author but have never heard him speak before… I love the way he puts it, just make good art in good times and bad. I watched/listened to this with my 13 year old son and 11 year old daughter, I can only hope that they take something away from it as I did. Thanks for posting it!

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