354MC Professional Photographic Portfolio – Inspirational Talk by Neil Gaiman

As a part of my 354MC Professional Photographic Portfolio module, it was suggested that we watch an inspirational talk by Neil Gaiman addressing the University of the Arts Class of 2012. Whilst watching this particular talk, I decided to take notes on the aspects that I felt we’re incredibly important, which I could apply to my current practice and exit strategy. Below you will therefore be able to find the video, followed by these particular, chosen notes that I made:

Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012 from The University of the Arts (Phl) on Vimeo.

  • “Looking back I’ve had a remarkable ride, I’m not sure if I can call it a career because a career implies that I had some kind of career plan, and I never did”
  • “First of all, when you start out with a career in the arts, you have no idea what you’re doing. This is great. People who know what they’re doing, know the rules, and they know what is possible and what is impossible. You do not, and you should not. The rules with what is possible and impossible in the arts world are made by people who have not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them. And you can. If you don’t know it’s impossible, it’s easier to do.”
  • “If you have an idea of what you want to make, what you want you were put here to do, then just go and do that. And that’s much harder than it sounds, and sometimes in the end, so much easier than you imagine”
  • “Something that helped me was imagining that where I wanted to be was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal. And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain, I’d be alright.”
  • “I learned to write by writing.”
  • “I tended to do anything, as long as it felt like an adventure, and stopped when it felt like work. Which meant that life didn’t feel like work.”
  • “You have to deal with the problems of failure. You need to be thick skinned to learn that not every project will survive.”
  • “If I did work that I was proud of, and didn’t get the money, at least I had the work. I don’t know if it’s an issue for anybody but me, but it’s true that nothing I did, where the only reason I did it was for the money, was ever worth it; except as bitter experience.”
  • “The things I did because I was excited and wanted to see them exist in reality has never let me down, and I have never regretted the time I spent on any of them.”
  • “The problems of failure are hard; the problems of success can be harder. Because nobody warns you about them.”
  • “I hope you’ll make mistakes. If you make mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something. And the mistakes in themselves can be very useful.”
  • “Remember, whatever discipline you’re in, whatever you do, you have one thing that’s unique: you have the ability to make art.”
  • “When things get tough, this is what you should do: make good art.”
  • “Whilst you’re at it, make your art. Do the stuff that only you can do.”
  • “The urge starting out is to copy, and that is not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people. But the one thing that you have, that nobody else has, is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision.”
  • “The things I’ve done that have worked the best are the things that I was least certain about… They always have that in common, looking back at them, people explained why they were inevitable successes, and when I was doing them, I had no idea. I still don’t. And where would be the fun in making something that you knew would work?”
  • “People keep work, in a freelance world, because their work is good, and they’re easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine.”
  • “What was the best piece of advice I was every given? I actually realized that it was a piece of advice that I had failed to follow… His [Stephen King’s] advice to me was this: “This is really great, you should enjoy it.””
  • “I wish I’d enjoyed it more. It’s been an amazing ride, but there were parts of the ride that I missed because I was too worried about thing going on, what came next, to enjoy the bit that I was on. That was the hardest lesson for me, I think, to let go and enjoy the ride. Because the ride takes you to some remarkable and unexpected places.”
  • “I wish you luck. Luck is useful. Often you will discover that the harder you work, and the more wisely that you work, the luckier you will get. But there is luck, and it helps.”
  • “You can be as creative as you need to be to get your work seen… The old rules are crumbling, and nobody knows what the new rules are. So make up your own rules.”
  • “Now go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for you being here. Make good art.”
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