The following quote, attributed to Ira Glass (of This American Life fame) began floating around my corners of Facebook a few months ago. It really spoke to me. When I completed my large Cardinal I sought it out again. Ira’s message was missing in my development, but means so much at this point. I will make a point of sharing this with young or emerging artists in the future.
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
My artwork really began to meet my aesthetic expectations when I began to carve birds about three years ago. Not only do my bird carvings now meet my expectations. I’ve more control over all of my other creative projects: drawing, instrument building, performing and printing. (I still can’t draw people…oh, well.)
Thank god other folks liked my work and encouraged me to continue. Even though I was not meeting my expectations I was meeting theirs. I kept at it.
I’ll be fifty this year. It’s been a long wait. It was worth every minute. Thanks for the confirmation, Ira.