Inspiration From Steve Jobs: Real Artists Ship

When it comes to good salesmanship and motivating speeches, few have rivaled the words of the late Steve Jobs. His slogan “Real Artists Ship” arose before the release of the now iconic first Mac, when the project was months overdue. The saying helped unite his workforce, pushing them to work nearly non-stop; toward the end even producing new release candidates of the operating system every few hours.
The nautically themed images featured here where created by designer Andrew Power. He’ll soon be offering prints, but for now you can get wallpaper for your computer or phone at

Below is an excerpt from Steven Levy’s book Insanely Great, which chronicles the creation of the first Mac. Here he explains the origin of the slogan:

Jobs’s speeches were punctuated by slogans. Perhaps the most telling epigram of all was a three-word koan that Jobs scrawled on an easel in January 1983, when the project [the release of the first Mac] was months overdue. REAL ARTISTS SHIP. It was an awesome encapsulation of the ground rules in the age of technological expression. The term “starving artist” was now an oxymoron. One’s creation, quite simply, did not exist as art if it was not out there, available for consumption, doing well. Was [Douglas] Engelbart an artist? A prima donna—he didn’t ship. What were the wizards of PARC? Haughty aristocrats—they didn’t ship. The final step of an artist—the single validating act—was geting his or her work into boxes, at which point the marketing guys take over. Once you get the computers into people’s homes, you have penetrated their minds. At that point all the clever design decisions you made, all the tists and turns of the interface, the subtle dance of mode and modeless, the menu bars and trash cans and mouse buttons and everything else inside and outside your creation, becomes part of people’s lives, transforms their working habits, permeates their approach to their labor, and ultimately, their lives.
But to do that, to make a difference in the world and a dent in the universe, you had to ship. You had to ship. You had to ship.
Real artists ship.

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