Making art can make you incredibly insecure. That’s a fact.
Putting your art out in the world is like showing the whole human race your vulnerable side. And people do judge.
But this shouldn’t hold you back. Never.
A while back, I first saw Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech which he gave at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts in 2012. Right away, I was triggered by his words. They gave me so much hope and determination.
Since then, I watch video about once every two weeks. To remind myself what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I have the audio file on my phone, so I can listen to it when I’m on the train or tube.
The things he says in the video were so inspiring the me, that I wrote parts down to remember them clearly. When picking illustrations, I hear Neil Gaiman asking: “Does it bring you closer to the mountain?”.
If not, I don’t take on the job.
When I saw that there’s a book with the speech in it, I bought it. Carrying the words with me in book form is devine to me: the book is on my desk at all time and I take a peek in it every now and then.
“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.”
A lot of people ask me if I don’t feel vulnerable as I share so much of my personal experiences in my work.
My mother asked me this same question while we were driving in her car. It must have been in the fall of 2013, when I just started publishing an online visual diary. I answered: “Showing my vulnerability is scary sometimes and it makes that people can hurt me, if they want. But at the same time I’m gaining so much of it, that it’s worth the risk.”
“Somebody on the internet thinking what you do is stupid or evil or
it’s all been done before? Make good art.”
The most important thing is that you do what you love. Putting your art out in the world, through social media or the web, can be scary. People might have an opinion, they might not like what you do. But I hope you remember one thing: as long as you make something that is truly you, what you want to say, it’s good art.
Opinions are never objective, so they’re never a fact.
If someone doesn’t like what you do, it doesn’t mean it isn’t good. There will be others that will like it.
But most importantly: you should like what you make.
As I need this reminder by Neil Gaiman every day, I created a poster with a part of his speech on it. I would love to share this with you if you need to imprint this in your head as well.
You can buy the poster in my shop!
Mine hangs right above my workspace, so that I’m reminded when I’m creating. If you order the poster, I’m immensely curious where you will hang yours! Do let me know, you can find me as always on Instagram.
“And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes,
make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules.
Leave the world more interesting for your being here.
Make good art.”
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I hope you enjoyed this post, and I’m curious about your thoughts! Let me know in the comment section below.
See you soon,
All text and images © Marloes De Vries