Waters, John. “Make Trouble”. Algonquin, 2017.
Even though John Waters is one of the icons of modern culture, I hardly picture him as someone to give advice to a graduating class of senior at Rhode Island School of Design. But he did give advice and it is quite good advice. He meant this to be for artists, graduates, and all who seek happiness and success on their own terms.
When John Waters delivered his gleefully subversive advice, the speech went viral, in part because it was so perfect about making a living as a creative person. Now his wisdom has been published and has become a manifesto that reminds us that we must “embrace chaos, be nosy, and outrage our critics”. That should sound very much like the man himself. Waters urges us to understand that pragmatism and discipline are as important as talent and that rejection is nothing to fear. Waters advises us to eavesdrop and listen carefully to our enemies, and then to horrify the world with new ideas. What he is actually saying is to make trouble.
Eric Hanson illustrates the book with line drawings that are wonderfully demented and assure that this is a delightful read.