The fraud police

5 06 2011

Here are some excerpts from Amanda Palmer‘s commencement speech to the New England Institute Of Art, class of 2011, that I wanted to pass on to you. I’ve copied them as is.

so i am going to tell you today about something that my friends and i call ‘the fraud police’. the fraud police are this imaginary, terrifying force of experts and real grown-ups who don’t exist and who come knocking on your door at 3am when you least expect it, saying “fraud police. we’ve been watching you and we have evidence that you have no idea what you are doing. and you stand accused of the crime of completely making shit up as you go along. you do not actually deserve your job and we’re taking everything away. and we’re telling everybody.” and people working in the arts, especially, have to combat the inner fraud police on a daily basis. and even if you are a very happy, healthy, confident person, the fear of the fraud police is ever lurking.

[…]

so i want to tell you that one of the best things you can do, when you’re leaving here, is to just start working. and start making things up. and use each other, use you’re friends, help your friends, design things for free, take photos for free, do sound for free, make costumes for free, use what you’ve got laying around. and when someone asks you if you can help them with something, and you have no clue if you actually can, but you think you can figure it out, say yes.

and then figure it out. and you might fuck up. and you probably will fuck up. but you will learn stuff. and you will actually learn one of the most valuable lessons in the business, which is how to apologize to your best friend that their show is a total mess because of you.

[…]

so do not be afraid to offer your help to total strangers. you have nothing to lose. and a lot of people out in the world need, and do not have, the tools that you guys are walking away with today.

[…]

so offer your help and your talent and your time and your energy. because there is an unwritten code out there right now, especially online, that we’re all helping each other to build a beautiful, crazy, lawless new world. where there are no rules about how it gets built, we are making the rules up as we go along, and we are changing them every single day.

and eventually, i promise you, you will get to a point where the fraud police will come knocking. and you will open the door. and when they accuse you of being a fraud, you will honestly be able to say, “you’re right. i still have no idea what i’m actually doing. i am making this shit up as i go along, but it is working out just fine. and also here in behind me is an incredible party with awesome people, a bumping sound system that we built ourselves out of salvaged parts, with a giant electronic glass bubble bath installation filled with escaped pandas and dancing girls that we found on craig’s list, and you are not invited.”

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