Many students are about to leave university and face the "real" world. It’s timely to recall Picasso’s advice to the famous photographer Brassai about refusing to compromise and to pursue your dreams at any price. "When you have something to say, to express, any submission becomes unbearable in the long run. One must have the courage of one's vocation and the courage to make a living from one's vocation. The 'second career' is an illusion! I was often broke too, and I always resisted any temptation to live any other way than from my painting," said Picasso.
Picasso believed you should refuse to compromise your creative ideals for practical needs. Picasso’s statement is from the book Conversations with Picasso by Brassai written in 1964. For over thirty years the two met regularly. Brassaï carefully recorded each conversation with the great artist.
One discussion took place in May, 1944. At that time Brassaï was an acclaimed commercial photographer. He had experimented with drawing twenty years earlier and showed some of those drawings to Picasso, who was impressed. He insisted that Brassai have an exhibition. He interrogated Brassai about why he had given up drawing. Despite Brassaï's international success as a photographer, Picasso felt that abandoning any creative talent was cowardice. He saw compromise as a failure to be your true self. He gave Brassaï a verbal lashing. Brassaï countered that few artists have the talent to be successful. Picasso scoffed at that myth. He felt that struggling artists should be more aware of the importance of perseverance and being true to their sense of purpose.
As Brassaï left, Picasso gave him some practical advice about selling his drawings, ‘Don't price them too high. What matters is that you sell a large number of them. Your drawings must go out into the world.’
Picasso’s words are as true today as in 1944 and very apt for all college leavers.
Rod Judkins MA RCA is an artist, writer, and professional public speaker, delivering talks and workshops that explain the creative process and help individuals and businesses to be more inspired in their lives and work. He is author of the international bestseller, Change Your Mind: 57 Ways to Unlock Your Creative Self.