“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.” -Ira Glass
It happens over many years with practice, learning technique, studying with great teachers, and most of all making your intention about discovery- not money, not your ego (love me!), not teaching (I know it all and no longer need to be a student I can inspire you even though I have stopped growing), and not fame (I’m having a show- notice I am an artist!). Its about the work itself. THE WORK….unless you are making a PRODUCT and not a piece of art.
What’s the rush? I say that now as an artist in her 50’s, who has been at it since her 20’s. I was hungry and impatient after art school- I wanted love, I wanted recognition and I thought my nubile fresh work was ‘the shit’. And yea , I did have something to say. But I didn’t know how to say it WELL or clearly. Why? I hadn’t practiced or experimented or made enough mistakes to have that “special thing”.
I was pissed off when, in my 30’s, my Grad school professor said this:
“You are young. Your work is good now, sure. But when you have really lived, and practice to use this voice- maybe by the time you are 50….. that is when I will want to see what you do.”
And now, it makes me chuckle to know that he was right. Living life, taking risks and mistakes in your work will make you grow. And grow under the radar- then you won’t be bound by others expectations. Do it for you. Make ugly, make crazy, try new ways to experiment in your art practice.
Practice has given me confidence while simultaneously making me realize I know very little. Practice makes me want to know more, every work is an experiment, a stepping stone to make a new discovery in the studio.
“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.” That is special.