When I graduated from an art school in 2004, I wasn’t sure if I was an artist, yet. I didn’t have a show lined up, I wasn’t confident in the body of work I was making, I didn’t have the connections to the scene. Looking back, I wish someone told me “Hey. You are an artist.” If a single person had been supportive of my work, it would have helped me to consider myself an artist. So, today, I’d like to tell you –

You are an artist. I approve and support. If anyone has a problem with you being an artist, they can come to me. I will fight back.

A few other things I wish someone told me when I began to make art.

Invest in your art practice. Be generous with time and attention to your art. Take care of what you create. Be proud of it. Respect yourself as an artist. Everything you make is a culmination of many years of search.
Start a community of your own. Name it and own it. The chances of you finding a community and being part of it, and feeling like you are at the center of it, is slim. Starting one might be easier than finding one.
Build your own breakthrough. The recognition does not come from the outside. It happens when you are ready for it and the world is always curious.
The success of making art is not based on sales, fame, following, but if you can connect with others through your art.
Art is work. Very hard work and difficult work to dedicated your self to. The work may not compensate monetarily or bring immediate recognition easily.
You know your work as an artist is worth it when you enjoy your own work and you find the process rewarding.
Art is a way of looking at the world. It is practice — a continued act of engaging with the world and reflecting on yourself. It is praxis — a tool to bring your passion, talent, ability to good use.
Art world. You may feel like an uninvited guest at a private party. And there is the common notion that art belongs to the privileged, the ones with an excess of time and money. Most artists I know being their career modestly, work hard to build their reputation and define their worth. Their work brings the prestige and respect — something that’s difficult to buy.
What you are making maybe more important than what you might think of it.
You don’t need to look like an artist, sound like an artist, live like an artist. However, if you can think like an artist, you are an artist. Unlike everyone else who’s cultural or creative, artists have a unique ability to give form to an idea. Their mind is not only flexible but plastic. It can receive and give form to an idea.

Anonymous asked: What's your opinion on the autonomous nature of a final project (a bachelor's or master's project)? Is it really graphic design? Should you try to make it graphic design? Or embrace the fact that it isn't? Should you worry about "defining an audience"? In the art world it is such a taboo issue but we're constantly asked this in our graduation year, at a very open minded dutch art school...
I think you should embrace the fact that it possibly isn’t.

We live under the assumption that graphic design is dependent on external forces like a client or a brief, but I think that is only because it’s a relatively new field. In the Middle Ages, painting was largely judged by the client, (the roman Catholic Church), the same can be said with photography, (in service of government aka Ansel Adams or in service of an official purpose like portraits; or factual outlets like journalism). It seems like a bunch of artistic media start off with an overt end goal. But, as the art form evolves it becomes valuable simply because it is. Today, painting can be good simply for existing, a good painting can simply be a good painting, a great photograph can simply be a great photograph. They’re on their own terms and judged within the merits of its own medium. Painting, photography, film, all began as a practice, an industry, but evolved to become media worth studying for their own sake. It seems as if the goal of design in this case is to go beyond a practice or industry to become purely an artistic medium. I think, and hope for a future where design is the same, that graphic design, the medium where words and images collide, will eventually be judged within its own world, and I think it’s close. With technology and culture at its current point, the combination of typography (language) and image elicit responses from viewers. The more of us who seek out this end response as simply a need of engagement rather than service to a particular purpose, the closer we are to realizing that design is meant to be something for everyone, and not just those with licenses.

Edit: I’ve had a few drinks tonight so there may be typos or just poor writing but my general sentiment stands, that different media in art begin as a craft, evolve to be in service of society with a purpose but ultimately transcend context to become a purely material activity to be enjoyed by those of all creeds, and that programs, institutions or circumstances that allow design to be unrestrained by concerns of purpose, content, client, etc are making the field much richer. So with you, here’s what I think: over the past few years you learned to combine the power of the image, the power of language and to merge the two together to elicit an effect or response. Use those skills, and nothing else matters. If your program isn’t concerned with a client, use case, purpose, then neither should you. I graduated like 5 years ago for undergrad, 3 years from grad. In the age for the Internet, I’m already old. In the politics of design, I have been exposed to the previous generation already. That may be the world you inherit but it won’t be the world you have to make it for. In 1991, Paul Rand wrote an open letter in the AIGA Journal about how Aesthetics and Sociology shouldn’t mix. He wrote a whole essay about how design and politics have no place. As great as he was, 25 years later, we know how wrong that notion is. He built a structural framework to interpret design that has since been dismantled and the same will fall on all of us. Make what you want for the world you want to live in.

Sometimes, this isn’t enough and you have to talk about things like fonts. Well, if I’m about to present something I think is batshit crazy or something I feel the client may not be used to like but could be interesting for them to adopt, I schedule a meeting a week beforehand—I call this a strategy prep. Do not bring anything visual to this meeting. Keep it all verbal. I tell them that after our initial meetings, getting to know their goals, etc that I have an approach in mind. I then talk about what I’m going to avoid doing. An example would be “You’re an architectural practice but since your work is primarily in the fashion sector, it may be interesting to highlight how different you are from typical architectural practices. I’ve notice the prevailing trend for a lot architecture studios is to default to a geometric san-serif. I can see why. It’s rational, mechanical—but maybe in your case it’s something we need to avoid.” The client then nods their head. In this example, you’re literally trying to get them to convince themselves that a serif is the right way to go. If they agree, then, you pretty much have permission to show them a logo with a serif next week—because it’s what you discussed. If they don’t then at least you don’t waste your time or and now you have a week to rethink your approach or even relationship with the client. Again it’s important you don’t bring anything that you worked on to this meeting. The key is to get consensus on ideas, not execution.