1. Decide right now if you are going to be an artist or a fan, a producer or a consumer. If you choose creativity, don’t waste time and energy on fandom.
2. Accept now that your parents, in this life or the next, will never understand what you’re doing. They will always be more concerned with the cleanliness of your laundry than your life’s ambitions.
3. You will never “make it.” Any momentary success will put you right back at square one the next day, where you will begin promoting and begging all over again. Artists rarely know what comes next or if any opportunties will appear again at all. Embrace this uncertainty.
4. Accept that artistry is a lifestyle choice and not a dependable career and plan accordingly.
5. Find a day job that doesn’t make you nuts and doesn’t sap your creative energy. Do not try to juggle a commercial art 9-to-5 with personal work. Find a job unrelated to art where you can interact with real people. Do not become an art instructor. Trust me on this.
6. Treat your work with respect. Present your work as if it is among the most refined and sophisticated around. Don’t make ratty “punk” zines on goldenrod copy paper. Make promotional materials simple and professional. If you don’t show respect to your work no one else will.
7. Figure out your own head and make art which reflects your weird preoccupations. Never create artwork based on assumptions of commercial appeal.
8. Move forward as if your intention is to remain obscure yet confidently productive forever. Hack gigs for Disney money won’t do a thing to promote the art you really care about.
9. Develop trust in the mistakes, inescapable quirks, and bad habits you can’t outgrow. These are the basis for your “style.” Trust your style to carry you through. In many respects, style IS substance.
10. You don’t always need complex ideas, just truthful ones.
11. Ignore the pressure to appear “well-rounded.” Embrace your most individual obsessions and dismiss everything else.
12. Assuming that you need expensive, specialized equipment to make art is just an excuse not to make art. But if you acquire such equipment, take note if you find yourself more interested in the tools than in the work. This interest is trying to tell you something.
13. Work as fast or as slow as you require. Create hundreds of works a year or only one. Art is not an Olympic sport.
14. Desiring art whch matches the couch is a perfectly valid mode of art appreciation.
15. Don’t fill sketchbooks simply to impress others with your dedication and productivity. Sketch to solve problems.
16. Develop a process which allows opportunities to correct mistakes and/or capitalize on happy accidents. The production of art is a process of fixing mistakes.
17. As my old life drawing instructor Mr. Song used to say, “Don’t be afraid to make an ugly art!”