Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"Your taste is why your work disappoints you."

I actually used to be a design major--a fashion design major, in fact.  Fortunately I realized early on that fashion design was also, in fact, not something I wanted to pursue for many reasons.  Mostly, it had to do with being completely hopeless on a sewing machine.  Once, I broke 3 needles and somehow dislocated the foot within one class period (the foot is the metal part where the needle is attached to). Another time, I couldn't figure out why my needle wouldn't stop running, and it wasn't until three people later that we discovered it was because I had been stepping on the pedal the entire time.

I used to staple fabric together as a quick fix.

I had the ideas and I had the designs, but I lacked the actual drive to learn how to use a machine properly and bring them into reality.  I guess that's when I figured out the difference between an interest and a career.

Anyways, during my short-lived venture in design, a  professor introduced us to a quote by Ira Glass, someone whose words would later become central in my life:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
-Ira Glass
If you are some sort of artist, whether a professional or a hobbyist, you will immediately understand the significance.  While I might not be a fashion designer, I do still enjoy painting from time to time.

Even though it is a hobby, I still look at my art and feel dissatisfied with what I've produced; this has a lot to do with what Glass says.  The only way I can reach my true potential is to keep working at it consistently in order to close the gap between what I am now and what I can be.  Eventually, my work will mirror my standards.  

This discipline and energy applies to all work, not just creative work.  If you feel like you're not good enough with what you are doing and where you are now, just keep trying.  It takes time and most importantly, serious dedication.  Slowly, but surely, you'll fall into step and find yourself in a better place, ending up with something you can be proud of.  

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