I meet young, creative people all the time, just out of college. They’re tending bar, waiting tables, stacking shelves in bookstores, folding jeans at The Gap, working in an office. All trying to get by, all trying to figure out what to do next, where they fit in this big ol’ world of ours. And it’s tough for most of them. Of course it is.
My advice to them is always the same: “Make Art Every Day”.
When I say “Art”, I don’t necessarily mean paintings or literature or music or whatever. I mean, whatever it is that’s meaningful and powerful to them. Like the old song said, “T’ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It).
Only they can know what that is, of course. For me, it was always drawing cartoons. But for others, it could be about business or cooking or carpentry or screenprinting tee-shirts or raising money for charity.
That was my M.O. for years. I remember in my early mid-twenties, working my ass off all day long at the ad agency in Chicago. Then after work, instead of going home to watch TV and hang out with roommates or whatever, I’d head for my local coffee shop, pull a seat up at the bar, and sit there for hours on end, drawing cartoons. Even if my cartoons weren’t very good, even if they weren’t commercial. Even if some of the waiters and fellow customers used to made subtle and frequent quips about me “needing to get a life”.
It paid off eventually. Eventually the cartoons got good, eventually they got commercial. Eventually I didn’t need a day job anymore, eventually I got a life. Happy Ending.
I didn’t wait for the money, I didn’t wait to “be discovered”, I didn’t wait for the approval from others. I just got on with it, every day.
Like a very talented pianist friend once told me when I was a boy; it’s better to practice a musical instrument for five minutes a day, than to practice for two hours, once a week. It’s something I never forgot.
Which is why regardless of what the rest of the world needed from me on any given day, I found the time, somehow. Simply because I made the decision to do so, somehow.
Whatever your EVIL PLAN might be, “Make Art Every Day”.