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Wunderkinds are Bullshit

Fashion Designer Yohji Yamamoto - Photo by Elise Toïde

Fashion Designer Yohji Yamamoto - Photo by Elise Toïde

The Following is an excerpt from my book, The Money of Art

For every Alexander Wang, who launched his first clothing collection at age 23, there’s a Rick Owens, Donna Karan and Yohji Yamamoto, who debuted at 32, 37 and 38, respectively.

For every Orsen Welles, who made Citizen Kane when he was 25, there’s Ang Lee, whose first film was released at 38, and Katheryn Bigelow, who made clunkers until she won an Oscar for The Hurt Locker at 57. (Though I’d argue her first hit was the masterful Keanu Reeves/Patrick Swayze surf heist film Point Break.)

Kristen Wiig studied Art and took an acting class to fulfill a credit requirement. She dropped out and didn’t join Saturday Night Live until 2005, at the age of 32. 

Mark Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn at age 49.

I can play this game forever. 

Many of you reading this might be in jobs you don’t like, itching to break free from the grind to become Independent Artists. Some of you might feel as if it’s too late. It’s not. 

We are fascinated by wunderkinds because it’s not normal. They stick out. Wunderkinds are rare by design. We fantasize about being a wunderkind because it means less time and work to be successful.

Obsessing over being a wunderkind is as effective as making “win the lottery” your business plan. It’s also pointless if you’re past the age of 25, like me. 

There’s a better formula for success: working smart + time. 

For every wunderkind who wins the success lottery, we have a thousand older, equally successful artists.

To try to become a young success, time is your enemy.

To try to become a success, time is your ally.