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. The things I’ve done that worked the best were the things I was the least certain about. – Neil Gaimon
‘Tis the season for commencement addresses, most of which will be entirely forgettable. But one or two will be amazing, and they will leave a mark in the best possible way on the people lucky enough to hear them. This is one of those speeches. Neil Gaimon, the writer behind the graphic novel The Sandman, Coraline, and American Gods, addressed the 2012 graduating class of Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. He spoke of the freedom to create and succeed when you “have no idea what you are doing” because knowing the rules might otherwise restrict you. He spoke of identifying your passion and tailoring your steps so that you are ever moving toward its vague form in the distance. He said he, “tended to do anything that felt like an adventure, and stopped when it felt like work.” (We should all live thusly, no?) He speaks of the lessons of failure, and the problems of success. His talk applies to everyone, but really speaks to the creative in each of us – especially that part of ourselves which is screwing up the courage to create something, put it out to the world, and let ourselves be seen.
Neil says that, “Sometimes life is hard. Things go wrong… in life, in love, in friendship, and in business, 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.” That portion of his speech was turned into this cool comic poster by Gavin Aung Than,
which you can purchase here to remind yourself to Make Good Art and to do what only you can do. The speech has also been turned into a book, which you can purchase should you need a gift for that graduate or certain special creative in your life.
As I delved deeper into Neil Gaimon’s background, I chuckled when I discovered that he’s married to Amanda Palmer because, well, of course he is.