To you, anonymous hero knighted by the gods and entrusted by them to design the environment of mankind for the years to come, i dedicate this book. In your years of school, you will desperately try to find your "way". And your search will be desperate until some day you discover that a school can only teach you how to learn and how to work by opening your mind not to one way of knowledge, but to the many ways opened by men of vision into the unknown territories of art - since it is true that there is an infinity of different ways to reach art, and that all are good, if they are authentic.
After years of intolerance, you will find yourself some day left high and dry on a shore deserted of your dearest idol, with a bitter taste in your mouth. Because it is true that unless an artist believe in everything, he believe in nothing. Be ready to die for what you believe in today, but submit your idols to trial by fire, relentlessly, and keep those which retain, through the ordeal, the original strength of their mettle.
You will also soon discover the vanity of saying of a work of art that it is greater than another work of art. You will realize that the humblest work may possesses eternal greatness if it possesses sincerity.
When at length come your years of fulfillment you will find yourself alone, the only judge of your decision, in the awesome position of the doctor at the deathbed of his dearest patient. No one then will tell you what can be done to bring life flowing again into what death is ready to snatch away. No one will tell you if you are right, or wrong, even the experience and knowledge of your past years may be of no avail. Your only sure guide will always be your intuition.
Do not be afraid: either of your ideas, no matter how wild - the ideas to others, no matter how disturbing. Fear is the motive of all intolerance, while no truly tolerant man can ever be afraid, and the artist must be uncompromisingly tolerant.
As a corollary to this, live dangerously. The mountain climber is only rewarded by the summit after having risked his life many times during the climb. Beware then of contracting too many insurances. Close your eyes to ads and magazines; don't ever forget that your work may make the magazine, but the magazine will never make your work and may well destroy the faith you have in yourself.
Avoid brainwashing of any kind, commercial social, political, religious. Don't let yourself be tagged by a leash of honor in 'ism' that will make you one of the flock, but will blindfold you from seeing the beautiful lamb of the flock that happens to live on the next ranch. You, as an artist, must believe in everything, mostly in the impossible. Don't ever forget that by your intuitive foresight you will find solutions to problems that seem impossible today, but which will become commonplace in the next generation.
Don't work for success, whether success to you means a degree, a position, money, or honors. You cannot reverse the process of nature: since no fruit in spring can produce flowers in the fall, you cannot visualize the harvest before the seed matures into a healthy, full grown plant. A hot house may grow faster products, but none that can compete with the authentic product of the soil. This attitude will force you to give "no" for an answer more often than "yes", if you are concerned only with the integrity of your production. Then your "YES" will be uncompromisingly sincere. The worst lie is the lie you give to yourself as an excuse for success.
Burn your idols once in a while, and start all over again.
Art is not a process of feeling little wings grow in your backs and grow and grow until they become angel wings and carry you smiling to a heaven fragrant with sweet violin sounds and harps: when your wings start to lift you above ground, some good devil will know enough to clip them short and you will fall and get hurt. Only through succession of flight and falls will you experience art and grow in stature as an artist.
Often you will find your beliefs today in contradiction with yesterday's loves. Although your personality will never change, your vision of the world will. In your wonder trip discovery of life, you will not rest in worship at the feet of only one idol, but will give to every new idol as it passes by a silent prayer of recognitions as thankful tribute to the enrichment it has brought to your mind.
Flout the rules as often as you can in a masterly way. Recipes are for poor cooks. Great chefs make them. The canvas of rules and codes that you have had to learn must be transgressed with vision for any art to be born.
Finally, during all your life as an artist, learn through painstaking experimentation, exercise and practice, how to acquire a masterly knowledge of your craft.
As for your equipment as a designer, it is not costly: it will consist of your hands, your eyes, and your mind. There will be your most essential tools; they are all the arms you need as a young warrior in the battle of design. All shortcuts, mechanical and otherwise, are signs of defeat and ineptitude. Art is the highest form of athletics, and the greatest artist- a Beethoven, a Paganini, a Heifetz, or a Picasso - are among the most hard working 'manual laborers".
Only through the constant practice of your grammar, your scales and arpeggios, vocalizes and sketches, will you become articulate in your art.
All the rest is nonsense.
FORM, FUNCTION & DESIGN (1975)
Courier Dover Publications