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Make Good Art


I just read Neil Gaiman’s speech which he gave to graduates of Philadelphia’s University of the Arts in 2012. (Http://vimeo.com/42372767). The speech was put into book form by a graphic designer named Chip Kidd and I stumbled over it at the Morrison branch of our library. The book is all turquoise, orange, yellow, and red which gives it the quirkiness you usually find in Gaiman’s writing. (Coraline, the Sandman comics, Dr. Who scripts, et.al.)

The collaboration is a joyous mix of color and text and wisdom. The title is Make Good Art, and Gaiman’s was speaking to a room full of artists of all kinds. Considering my definition of art, he was speaking to every one of us.

The gist of the speech is “Follow your bliss” (Joseph Campbell), but said with great wit and laced with personal caveats. However, this morning the effect on me was to think about my personal definition of art.

What is art? IMHO

Make something. If it has an effect on someone else–love it, hate it, laugh with it, even puzzle over it–it’s Art. Creation + Effect. That’s all I require. Evaluating, critiquing, judging–a different process and not my concern.

I once made cupcakes for my daughter’s classmates. The kids ate them with gusto, inhaled them even. This was Not Art. It was merely eating cake mix food without noticing anything but the sugary taste.
20140110-114307.jpgToday there are shops which sell only cupcakes, and the customers consider each flavor carefully and admire each presentation. Then they purchase and eat with a smile, maybe even a moan. That is Art.

I knit. I follow a pattern–a recipe–a formula. But I choose the yarns, the color scheme, the buttons, the embellishments–even tweak the stitch pattern or alter the shape. I make Art.

I have a sketchbook. I draw. I’m not very skilled, but once in a while I draw something that makes someone connect and laugh (my favorite reaction). I made Art.


Steve cooks. Friends actually call and ask to come to dinner. He talks about flavor chords of food as he plans a meal. He uses white porcelain plates because he likes the way it shows the food. We eat, and sometimes we moan a bit. Yep. It’s Art.

So, go. Make Good Art. Your Art.

I would love to react to it if you want to share.

More later–


2 Responses

  1. Nothing makes me happier than to create something that makes someone smile.

  2. It’s like they give you back a bigger gift, isn’t it.

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