It’s hard to believe it’s already been over 10 years since we set up our first office in the 2nd bedroom of our apartment in the big house at the top of the hill on German Street in Shepherdstown, WV. There have been a lot of highs (our Target gift card, recently published books), a lot of lows, and a lot of cups of coffee and tea in between!
One thing has been consistent so far: ya gotta just keep pursuing good quality work, no matter what job you’re on or how much you’re getting paid.
That’s a big part of this now-famous art school graduation speech by Neil Gaiman, which we want to share with you in case you’ve never heard it! We discovered it in 2013 and still look to it for inspiration. This 20 minutes of advice for artists is just as relevant today as it was 7 years ago, and it’ll stay relevant for the next 77 years!
(We’ve included a full transcript after the jump in case you’ve watched it 50+ times like us and want a fresh way of taking it in…)
Do a quick internet search of “client chase” and you’ll come up with scores of articles exhorting, instructing, and sometimes downright pleading with you to stop trying to go to potential clients and to start getting them to come to you.
In theory, that’s great advice. It saves you a lot of time, it insures that you’re only working with people that truly want to work with you, and it gives artists the ability to negotiate the terms of the deal.
But it’s much easier said than done. What if your website is completely new, so it has terrible traffic? What if you live far away from the biggest creative hubs of NYC, LA, SF, London… or any larger city, for that matter? What if you didn’t graduate from an art program that not only granted you a degree, but also access to the larger network of working professionals in your field? (All hypothetical situations, of course.)
In short, how do you stand out in a massive crowd?
Apart from finding your niche and hoping people notice, which can take years, here’s the stupidly obvious answer:
Go look for the work.
It takes a lot of effort and discipline, but it’s stupidly simple. Here’s how we do it: