It’s Time for the Graduation Speech

It’s graduation season with a fresh crop of graduation speeches (groan). Therefore, I dig out my favorite graduation speech and faithfully read it, even though it has been decades since I graduated from anything. That graduation speech? It is an incredibly smart op-ed published in the New York Times on May 31, 2015, written by Pamela Druckerman: “How Creative People Can Find Their Place.” Ms. Druckerman offers timeless advice for any creative person at any time in their creative journey.

My Saved Copy of Ms. Druckerman’s Op-Ed, published in the NY Times, May 31, 2015

Golly I love her! Pamela Druckerman. Not only is she as cute as a button (I’d guess she’d groan with that description — it’s way too hayseed for her level of sophistication. So sorry, Pamela.) but she is one of the most creative and prolific modern female writers of our times.

From the description in her article, her graduation speech sounded perfect: Not too long (under 15 minutes?), had a few (six, plus one) suggestions for the graduating art student, and plenty of wit sprinkled throughout to hold one’s interest.

What Are Those Six (Plus One) Graduation Suggestions?

I shall summarize:

“Stay in the room” I love this phrase and I say it to myself constantly. It is my mantra. The voice in my head. It works for all kinds of activities.

“Your first attempt will be terrible.” Ain’t that the truth! And probably your second and third and so on… I am reminded of a friend who’s art teacher told them to burn their first 100 canvases. And I have a stack of seconds to prove it. (See my previous blog–7 Things Wrong and 1 Thing Right with this Quilt)

Everything that happens is potential inspiration.” I once designed a weaving pattern from a heating grate in a department store entrance; I saw it as I was riding the bus to my day job. It is all out there waiting to be used. As Georgia O’Keeffe said, “Take time to look.”

“Pay attention to what you’re doing on the side.” Surely you know more than one person who creatively tinkered when not at their day job? I did. So did most of the professional artists I know. To me, her advice is three-fold: First, go ahead and play, tinker, create during those off-hours. Second, recognize it for what it potentially could be; and, third, continue to feed it.

“It’s O.K. to be obsessive.” Oh thank you, Pamela! I really needed someone to say, no worries! Just go do it. And keep going until you are done and satisfied.

“This herculean extravaganza is totally worth it.” Another hurrah! For certain, it is special to receive recognition for what we create. Enjoy it, soak it up, save it. I have a collection of thank you notes written from people who, over the years, bought and enjoyed my weavings. Special thoughts that made all that hard work totally worth it.

That bonus tidbit of advice? Don’t leave your portfolio (or manuscript, concept drawings, fabric swatches, etc.) in the taxi, or wherever, because, most likely, you will not get that job. I’d like to hear the full story on that one.

Finally, one last take-away from Ms. Druckerman’s wise words: “Vous alley trouser voter place. You will find your place… Once you find it, you’ll slide right in.” Please read the full article. I am always left with happy, creative energy, whatever time of year I read it. Cheers!

Artwork by Hannah Waldron, NYTimes, 5.31.19 Druckerman Op-Ed


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