i love artists - the way they see, think and make. so much so that i am happy to say 'yes' if anyone asks me if i am an artist. i have blogged before about books about artists - notably think like an artist, and the creative stance. as you probably know if you read this blog regularly i train pioneers people who have ideas for making the world a better place, people who see possibilities and then build things out of their seeing, people who imagine and can gather communities of people who follow christ which don’t require them to leave their culture behind. whenever i read a book about artists or art i find myself replacing the word art with mission or pioneering. it’s quite a fun game to play. for christmas this year my son harry gave me a book art matters which has four essays or reflections by neil gaiman illustrated by chris riddell. one off the pieces is called make good art and is the text of a speech neil made in 2012 at the university off the arts - the text and video are here. it’s absolutely brilliant - do digest it in full its own right. but i have taken the liberty of taking a few of his quotes and switching the words the arts or art for pioneering or pioneer. i have placed them in brackets so it’s obvious. anyway see what you think…
When you start out in [pioneering] you have no idea what you are doing. This is great. People who know what they are doing know the rules, and know what is possible and impossible. You do not. And you should not.. If you don't know it's impossible it's easier to do. And because nobody's done it before, they haven't made up rules to stop anyone doing that again, yet.
If you have an idea of what you want to make, what you were put here to do, then just go and do that.
When you start off, you have to deal with the problems of failure. You need to be thickskinned, to learn that not every project will survive.
I decided that I would do my best in future not to [pioneer] just for the money. If you didn't get the money, then you didn't have anything. If I did work I was proud of, and I didn't get the money, at least I'd have the work. Every now and again, I forget that rule, and whenever I do, the universe kicks me hard and reminds me. The things I did because I was excited, and wanted to see them exist in reality have never let me down, and I've never regretted the time I spent on any of them.
I hope you'll make mistakes. If you're making mistakes, it means you're out there doing something.
Do the stuff that only you can do. The urge, starting out, is to copy. And that's not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we've sounded like a lot of other people. But the one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So [pioneer] as only you can.
Where would be the fun in making something you knew was going to work?
People keep working, in a freelance world, and more and more of today's world is freelance, because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don't even need all three. Two out of three is fine.
That was the hardest lesson for me, I think: to let go and enjoy the ride, because the ride takes you to some remarkable and unexpected places.
The rules, the assumptions, the now-we're supposed to's of how you [pioneer], and what you do then, are breaking down. The gatekeepers are leaving their gates. You can be as creative as you need to be. The old rules are crumbling and nobody knows what the new rules are. So make up your own rules.
And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. [Pioneer]