Patti Smith’s Advice to Creative Youth

The ‘kernel of wisdom’ type speeches are usually a dime a dozen, but this one really hits the nail on the head. Everyone’s a poet, a musician, a painter in college. Those that are still at it a decade later may not necessarily be more talented than the ones that gave it up, or made a hobby out of it. No. They’re the ones that are hooked. Also, was there any irony in Burroughs suggesting to keep your name “clean”?

From Laughing Squid:

“You don’t do your work and say ‘I only want the cool people to read it’…”

In August 2012, punk’s grand dame Patti Smith was interviewed at the Louisiana Literature festival and doled out some fantastic advice to young creative people (truly it’s an inspiring listen for all creative types).


Patti Smith: Advice to the young from Louisiana Channel on Vimeo.

James Curcio

I was raped by a family of polar bears as a child and now have a deep seated terror of peanut butter. Psychological transference is weird. Author, artist, freak.

6 Comments on "Patti Smith’s Advice to Creative Youth"

  1. Great post. Thanks, James!

  2. Ben Meyer | Jun 6, 2013 at 3:13 pm |


  3. mole_face | Jun 6, 2013 at 3:36 pm |

    It took me my entire life to finally realize what Patti Smith’s saying. Cultural elitism is for insecure douchebags.

    Every time an annoying mainstream cookie cutter caricature of a previously underground subculture is marketed to the masses, it’s actually a GOOD thing. Among all the mindless people who got swept up in the commercialization of punk rock, hardcore, indie rock etc. and treated it as a temporary costume and then subsequently forgot about it in a year or two, there were also thousands of people who otherwise never would’ve been exposed to this gorgeous vibrant art and had a major lifelong paradigm shift as the result of discovering it.

    It happened to me in the early to mid 90s with Nirvana, Green Day and Rancid bringing the punk aesthetic to the masses, and it transformed a shy meek self hating nerd into a punk rock convert for life. I’m almost 33 and I still actively follow the DIY punk scene and get just as excited about new music as I was at fifteen.

    • Matt Staggs | Jun 6, 2013 at 4:41 pm |

      As I’ve grown older, I’ve mellowed out a lot about popular culture in some ways. What’s cool or hip by the definition of a bunch of scenesters isn’t necessarily cool to me, and I don’t really try to be anyone besides who I am. Feeling like you’ve got to have some kind of secret inside canon of acceptable music that is spoiled the moment that others outside of the tribe discover it is immature. I feel the same way you do. If I like something, I want others to discover it and enjoy it, too, and conversely, I’ll continue to consider those things that others enjoy and decide for myself whether they’re enjoyable.

  4. Total respect for her as an artist and as a human being.
    Also, loved her memoir, Just Kids.

  5. BuzzCoastin | Jun 6, 2013 at 7:30 pm |

    being a pop star artist is a modern phenomenon
    the whole concept of struggling artist is a modern concept (~1750-~1950)
    before art, there was craft, which has the same requirements as art
    plus the value of usefulness
    back in the 50’s a Balinese person was quoted as saying
    “We don’t have art. We just do everything the best we can.”

    wee are all artists now
    our raw material is our existence
    our expression is our life
    wanna make great art
    live a life worth being admired as art
    even if the only admirer of your art is yourself

Comments are closed.