Neil Gaiman, author of The Sandman comics and novels such as Stardust and Coraline, recently delivered the commencement address to The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Though he tailored his advice for students of the arts, much of what he had to say applies to any field:
If you have an idea of what you want to make, what you were put here to do, then just go and do that. And that’s much harder than it sounds. . . .
Do what only you can do best: make good art. Make it on the bad days; make it on the good days, too. . . . Make your art. Do the stuff that only you can do. . . . The one thing that you have, that nobody else has, is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.
One need not take all of Gaiman’s advice (or even enjoy all of his stories) to appreciate his reverence for the pursuit of independent vision. Would that more commencement addresses were so egoistic in spirit.
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Image: Creative Commons by pinguino k