Ignore Everybody

Ignoring everybody seems to be odd advice but it’s certainly something we need to do more of.

Cartoonist Hugh MacLeod tells us so in his book Ignore Everybody And 39 Other Keys to Creativity.

Telling children to ignore everybody is something we definitely should do.


Well, MacLeod’s book tells us that the most important thing is finding your own voice and sharing that voice with the world. Children have got to follow their own passion, not their mum’s passion or their dad’s unfulfilled dream.

Every great artist has their own voice and children have to find their own voice too.

What happens if they have a passion or interest but feel like they aren’t that good at it?

MacLeod reminds us that some of the greats weren’t that good either:

  • Picasso was a terrible colourist.
  • Turner couldn’t paint human beings.
  • T.S. Eliot had a full-time day job.
  • Bob Dylan can’t sin or play the guitar. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
  • Saul Steinberg’s formal drafting skills were appalling.

Image result for saul steinberg

None of these people are perfect.

Far from it but they all pursued what was in their heart and soul to make a success of it.

No one person can be good at everything – now that’s a message children need to know.

MacLeod says,

The really good artists, the really successful entrepreneurs, figure out how to circumvent their limitations…The fact that Turner couldn’t draw human beings very well left him no choice but to improve his landscape paintings, which have no equal.

This reminds me of the 2004 Turner Prize winner –  Jeremy Deller. He confessed that he couldn’t draw, couldn’t paint, was told at his public school that he shouldn’t be an artist and didn’t go to art school. He was barred from taking O-level art when he was 16 but this didn’t stop him.

Winning the Turner Prize can catapult someone to fame and fortune but as Deller says, “You don’t make things like this to win prizes. You do it to satisfy yourself,”

And there we have it. Ignore the doubters and the naysayers and all those who tell you to stop. If you want to go ahead and do something that interests you then go ahead and do it and ignore everybody.

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