Bridging the “Gap”

Checking my “On This Day” on my personal Facebook account has become somewhat of a habit. And by that I mean, when I’m laying in bed, unable to sleep, I look at the clock, see it is after midnight, and think, “oh, at least, I can check my ‘On This Day’ now.” I regularly have difficulty falling asleep, hence the use of the word “habit.”

This past Friday, I was a bit behind in checking it. However, I did make time in my day to post a new business card I designed. It is a joke card I designed about my dog, who I have decided needs to stop whining in my ear, getting hair on my carpet, demanding food, and instead get out there and make a bigger contribution to society. There is also a resume I created for him, which you can see here. After I posted this image of the business card, which includes a portrait of the pooch, Facebook reminded me to check my “On This Day.” As it turns out, five years ago, I also posted a portrait of Renegade. It was created much in the same way the one on his business card was — I drew out a quick sketch, transferred the hand drawing to my computer, then outlined it and colored it using a couple of Adobe’s programs. The process being the same, the end result is certainly not:

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What adds to this coincidence is that on a different year from either of these dog portraits, I ALSO posted  on this day, the embedded video below. It is two minutes of audio of Ira Glass speaking about what he calls, “the gap.” (It also has some beautifully animated typography by David Shiyang Liu)

For a very long time, and sometimes still, I get an idea in my head, get very (quietly) excited about it like a dork, research if I need to, sketch it out, possibly sketch it out a second time, transfer it over to whatever media I will be creating a finish in, complete it, and along the way have arguments and make compromises with myself over how this is not looking the way I intended it to. As a result of this, many of my canvases have multiple paintings within the layers of paint as I try to get it right. Even if you go through my files of digital work, most of those pieces have more than one version of a finish.

This happenstance, of both these portraits being shown to me at the same time, along with this video, is an inspiring and much-needed reminder of how far I’ve come. Not necessarily in a monetary way, or worldwide renowned way, or even being settled into life way, but a deeply personal, building-myself-into-the-artist-I-want-to-be way. I do not feel like I have yet to completely bridge the gap Glass describes, but I think my bridge is coming along very nicely.

For anyone who is undergoing any type of creative endeavor, or even just trying to get through life and developing their ideas of who they are as a person, this video applies to you.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that 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, and 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 it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.”

“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.”

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