The Fraud Police
Amanda Palmer’s Commencement Speech to New England Institute of Art
“I am going to tell you today about something that my friends and I call The Fraud Police.
The Fraud Police are this imaginary, terrifying force of experts and real grown-ups who don’t exist and who come knocking on your door at 3am when you least expect it, saying: ‘Fraud Police! We’ve been watching you and we have evidence that you have no idea what you are doing and you stand accused of the crime of completely making shit up as you go along. You do not actually deserve your job and we’re taking everything away. And we’re telling everybody.’
People working in the arts, especially, have to combat the inner fraud police on a daily basis. The fear of the fraud police is ever lurking. And it really doesn’t matter who you are. Every so-called adult I know has had this feeling about their job and themselves at some level. The good news is it does get a little better and it gets easier, but it never really goes away.
I want to tell you that one of the best things you can do, when you’re leaving here, is to just start working and start making things up. And use each other, use your friends, help your friends, use what you’ve got laying around. And when someone asks you if you can help them with something, and you have no clue if you actually can, but you think you can figure it out, say yes. And then figure it out. And you might fuck up. And you probably will fuck up. But you will learn stuff.
And eventually, I promise you, the fraud police will come knocking. And when they accuse you of being a fraud, you will honestly be able to say, ‘You’re right. I still have no idea what I’m actually doing. I am making this shit up as I go along, but it is working out just fine. And also in here behind me is an incredible party with awesome people, a bumping sound system that we built ourselves out of salvaged parts, with a giant electronic glass bubble bath installation filled with escaped pandas and dancing girls that we found on Craigslist, and you are not invited.’”