No Matter What, Make Good Art

Author, Neil Gaiman, said this thing that's really stuck with me throughout the years in a 2012 commencement speech:

"Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do:

Make good art."

He goes on to list all these crazy things that can happen to you--like having your cat explode. And then reiterates that what you should do, what anyone should do, when posed with an exploded cat is: make good art.

This pretty much sums up why I like to write. Not because my cat exploded, no. But because if I had a cat, and it did explode, I'd be searching for a way to make sense of that.

The act of making art helps me make sense of everything--of people, war, events, randomness, existence, etc. It's a process of understanding. And in the end, when done well, the art itself serves the expression of an idea--an idea about what was, what is, or what's possible.

This is the power of art--consumed and created. It connects us with something deeper, something more meaningful. While simultaneously helping us defend against the tyranny of uncertainty.

The key here is that you don't have to be an "artist" to make art. This isn't something that's just confined to the 1%.

To be human is to have the power to create. The foundation of art is the combination, reorganization, and repositioning of the thoughts and ideas. Through varying perspectives, by varying degrees, from varying angles. Over and over again.

In this sense, I think everyone should find their own personal "art." It doesn't matter whether that's graffiti, finger painting, musical composition, woodwork, building businesses, policy writing, mechanical engineering, or clothing design. It doesn't matter if that thing makes you money or not, whether it is an outlet or an oasis. It doesn't matter whether you share it or not at first. It doesn't even matter if you're good.

It's the process that matters. It's the space of making sense of the world that matters. It's deep, real, vulnerable expression that matters.

That's good art.

Kate Ward