This one is a hand-me-down, but it’s the most important to me. Be yourself – original. Conformity is boring. Don’t let anyone tell you who to be or what to do. What is normal? Why does it matter? Nobody’s going to take care of you, love you, or understand you like yourself. Try not to be embarrassed of who you are and don’t waste time worrying – no one else cares as much as you do.
Remember where you came from, who you’ve loved, who you’ve lost, what you’ve done that no one else has. These things have shaped you as an individual – so they should shape your art. If you’re writing about a place, why shouldn’t it be the town you grew up in? You knew every crack in the sidewalk or tile in the ceiling somewhere, sometime. Remember how it felt to truly love something. Remember how it felt to be a kid. Make art that reflects your past, because no one else has lived it but you. You know it best.
Move on and forgive.
Now that you’ve remembered it, don’t let the past define you. Bad things happen to everybody – it doesn’t mean that you’re bad, or that you don’t deserve the best life you can have today. Develop your own voice and move on. Find a new muse, love, place, favorite band, color or font. Don’t be afraid – change isn’t always bad. Forgive yourself and other people. Don’t let people who’ve hurt you take up any more of your energy, and don’t let your past actions eat you up with guilt. Forgive and move on. Make brave new work.
Be part of something bigger.
No (wo)man is an island, right? Be part of a community. Respect and admire other artists for what they are great at. Become inspired by others’ successes while trying not to be jealous or critical. Make new friends and sometimes let old ones go. Hang on to the ones that matter.
Stand for something – question everything.
Understand that there is injustice in our world/society/culture. Stand up for things that matter to you, and show it in your work. Women are people. Animals are closer to people than most of us think. Being gay isn’t a punch-line. Religion is something people feel very strongly about – but is it always right (or wrong)? We can say these things through art. Try not to let injustices make you feel too desperate, angry, or hopeless. Use them as fuel.
Why are we so serious all the time? Make work that is funny, scary, unpredictable or outrageous. Life is fucking funny – laugh at it.