A Good Habit

Published: 8/26/20
By: Andrew Neyer

Sister Corita Kent, a screen-printing nun, lived out an extraordinarily creative and disciplined life. One of her legacies is a set of rules gifted to her students at Immaculate Heart College Art Department:
1. Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.

2. General duties of a student — pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

3. General duties of a teacher — pull everything out of your students.

4. Consider everything an experiment.

5. Be self-disciplined — this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

6. Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

7. The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

8. Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

9. Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

10. We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities. – John Cage
Helpful hints
• Always be around.
• Come or go to everything.
• Always go to classes.
• Read anything you can get your hands on.
• Look at movies carefully, often.
• Save everything. It might come in handy later.
• There should be new rules next week

Most new rules fit like pants your mom bought you.

“Mom, I don’t need new pants. Ugh, why did you buy these? These aren’t even my size. Actually, these pants—they fit great! Thanks, Mom.”

Kent’s rules fit so well because they help us become better creative humans. We often have an initial opposition to rules because we believe they are not for us and feel we should be exempt from them. The rules we except and respect transform into guiding principles versus constraining governances. If a rule does not challenge you, there is a slim chance you will find a reward. Rules lay the groundwork for success. Spend less time imposing rules onto others, and spend more abiding good rules. Make good rules, and break bad rules.

Also, wear the lame pants your mom bought you. They may be super gappy in the crotch and too tight in your butt, but they were on sale, and she loves you.


Sister Corita Kent

We have no art.

Fireworks, 1975
16 x 11.5″

Sacred Heart, 1969
12 x 23″



– Are you following your own rules?
– Are your rules making you a better human?
– What rule do you need to make?
– What rule do you need to break?