Offered in sympathy and solidarity with makers, artists, and strivers everywhere.
1. You don’t need to be a genius… but it don’t hurt.
2. Think process, not product… but if you don’t end up with a product, you’ve got nothing to share.
3. Share something small every day… but make sure it’s something worth sharing.
4. Open up your cabinet of curiosities… but remember other people sometimes have fuller cabinets, and more interesting too.
5. Tell good stories… if you happen to have good stories to tell.
6. Teach what you know… but you will probably end up teaching precisely what you feel costs you the least in giving away.
7. Don’t turn into human spam… but if you don’t get enough likes and favorites, you’ll cease to exist.
8. Learn to take a punch… but also learn how to deal when they don’t bother to throw any.
9. Sell out… in the unlikely event you get the chance.
10. Stick around… but if it’s hurting you not to quit, then quit.
You’ve got to reconcile so many different things. Self-belief may be a prerequisite for success, but if so it is necessary but not sufficient. Most people who make it may be legitimately talented, but neither legitimacy nor talent are fairly distributed. Bad work can only get you so far, but the history of creation is a history of great work that was neglected, forgotten, and ignored. There are people who are deserving who will never make it; there are people who will make it who are not deserving. So if you’ve got work to do you should do the work, and I hope that you make it, but at some point the important work becomes the work of forgiving yourself for not making it. That’s just coming from me as a guy, from me as a human person, someone with no expertise other than having observed people who have both made it and people who have failed to do so, and seen the ways in which both are treated by their culture and themselves.
In the future, what we will be forced to talk about, more than anything else, is a reality that is increasingly hard to deny: that human beings are not substantially in control of the outcomes of their own lives. That fight will affect economics, politics, crime, education, and the future of the human race. And it will, eventually, affect how we talk about art. Until then, take every risk you find sensible and work as hard as you can, but understand that there will always be money in telling people they can make it and there will never be money in telling them they probably can’t. I wish you only the best.