This speech was made by Professor Charles Goslin of Pratt Institute at the May, 2003 commencement on the main campus in Brooklyn, New York, upon receiving the Distinguished Teachers award for the year (2003–2004). Pratt has been honoring teachers of distinction since 1978.

Never Give Up. Never Give In.

Wonderful things are rarely done by comfortable people. You have the opportunity to work every day and look forward to the experience, enjoying your effort, nourished by it, so much that some of you will work a seven day week just because you want to.

Don't look for a style. Let if find you, again and again as it deepens and grows in richness, and as to your style, your friends will recognize it, you won't, unless you stole someone else's. Style comes to you when it is ready and it comes as inevitably as sweat on a July day.

Don't expect to revolutionize the world. You won't. But you can change and mould your corner of the world. You have the option to bring it intelligence, beauty and coherence. Your legacy is your talent. Use it well.

That small child with the scissors and colored paper, sitting in the middle of the parental living room rug, making shapes out of beautiful colors, for his or her own joy, not for money, not for critical acclaim, that child is you. You have the opportunity to create what never was. Forget about revolutionizing the world. Work for the joy of working, and without intending to, you will help to change your corner of the world.

Divya Dileep, Adria Taricani, Noble Cumming, Natsuko Bosaka, Lori Leonard, Omid Mohadjeri, Aki Carpenter, Han Cheung, Stephanie Goralnick, Mike Gerbino, Kathleen Creighton; an abridged cross section of this fine college, granting you degrees today. Your work should be as inventive and diverse as these beautiful names. Resist that ever-present and mind-numbing pressure to conform. You can't conform. You are special.

What is familiar to us is reassuring, and ultimately boring. What is different about us is beautiful, stimulating, and wonderfully disturbing.

Now some of you have been told, "You'll never get away with it," that ground-breaking idea that is so vital to you. Well, you never will get away with it if you don't try. But if you do try, again and again and again, you will know the gratification of creating something as personal as your signature, your brain waves in a painting, in the design of a wrench, a car, a building, a trademark, anything that needs creating.

You have before you a wonderful life. You can help heal a world full of hurt and violence, with the beauty and grace it so desperately needs.


“I felt the same way the day before I got the award as I did the day after. And I shouldn’t feel any different. Otherwise, it’s a conceit trip. But it is nice. When I make an image of my own, it’s very concrete. It’s there. I can see it. I can enjoy it. But when I teach, it’s very abstract, so for someone to pat you on the head and say, ‘You’re alright, cousin. You’re not bad.’ That’s very nice. That’s concrete.”
—Charles Goslin, May 2003