I’m working on a commencement address for the class of 2016, interested Ivy League Universities and Community Colleges get in touch:
If you’re graduating today with an arts degree, today is your first day of business and you have made your first bad business decision of your professional life. Congratulations. Being an artist requires that you make hundreds of bad business decisions throughout your career, student loan debt is great jump on your competitors. If you are graduating with no debt, you’re already lagging in the race to greatness, so go get a beer and start buying records. Now assuming everybody here has experience with making bad business decisions, I’m gonna tell you why bad business is the best art of all.
Bad business means saying no when they ask you to change your style. Bad business is not selling out the work you did with the community for commercials. Bad business is not taking the money when you don’t care how it turns out. Bad business is not making the excuse that everybody does it. Bad business is not compromising a little bit.
And if you get a good business opportunity take it, but make it bad business and make it good art. Good business is designing a sneaker for Nike. Bad business is making that sneaker out of clear plastic and covering it with art about wasting money on sneakers. Good business is designing an ice bucket for Absolut and covering it with art about my love of alcohol. I love alcohol. I love it. Good business is fake cool. Bad business is real cool. Be real cool.
When I was your age I had spray paint and an alias, so i wrote “life is short and art is long” on a wall. I’ll do it again today. Try me. Not only is it more true than ever, but Im true as ever. So make a name and art something you can live with, if you do it right its going to live a lot longer than you. Make a name that your friends are happy to hear, your foes angry to see, and the kids in 2099 are writing in laser paint.