Need a going-to-college gift or graduation gift for someone who hates graduation gifts? Know someone creative at a transitional point in their lives who could use some guidance? Or maybe that person is you, and you’re looking for some advice that’s not so…advice-y? This is the book to read.
Filmmaker and writer John Waters (Hairspray, Serial Mom, Cecil B. Demented) was asked to give a commencement speech to the graduating class of 2015 at the Rhode Island School of Design. He is uniquely qualified for this, having been “suspended from high school, then kicked out of college in the first marijuana scandal ever on a university campus.” He serves up some truth to the graduating class, not harsh or curmudgeonly truths, but lines that are real and inspiring without being capital-I Inspirational. Like, “Listen to your political enemies… and figure out how to make them laugh,” “Don’t hate all rich people…who else is going to buy our art?” and “Whining is never appealing in a college graduate.”
The book itself is tiny and designed like a really good indie zine. The drawings by Eric Hanson that embellish nearly every page are wacky, scrawl-y, and expressive. This is probably what having drinks with John Waters is actually like: slightly manic, twisted, and may make you raise your eyebrow a bit at some of the things he says, but you will leave more inspired than when you walked in.
Waters is not a member of an older generation griping about millennials in this book, either, although he does emphasize the values of hard work, not blaming other people for your shortcomings, and “deal[ing] with it.” It’s not a step-by-step guide to making a living as a creative (there are enough books that will try to sell you that bill of goods), but hopefully it will inspire you to get started at whatever it is that you do. And, it’s advice that you haven’t heard hundreds of times before – if you give this book as a graduate gift, or a gift to a young adult, they won’t find this advice in any other commencement speeches, Chicken Soup books, or Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
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