The Gap – Be Kind to Yourself, Don’t Compare

I often fall into the trap, as I suppose many people do, of being generally dissatisfied with the work that I’m producing. I make images that I like just often enough to keep me engaged but it can be tough to keep going especially when we’re surrounded by an onslaught of great work on social media.

The guitar teacher Tomo Fujita tells his students ‘Be Kind to Yourself, Don’t Compare, Don’t Expect Too Fast, and Don’t Worry.’ Good advice for anyone whether they are trying to learn a new skill or to be creative.

The other advice that I turn to when I’m struggling is what Ira Glass said about ‘The Gap’ (see video 3 below). He’s describing the difference between what you know is good and want to be able to do and what you’re currently able to achieve.

Check out the illustrated video below.

The solution of course is to do a lot of work. Bang it out even if you don’t feel like it. Just keep going. You will get better, you will evolve and you will close the gap.

Checkout the full interview ‘Ira Glass on Storytelling’ in the following videos. This should be required viewing for anyone in the creative arts.

Mind The Gap

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

I have a couple of photography related book projects that should see the light of day by the end of the year and need to prepare the files for printing. To that end over the last week I’ve started aggregating the materials that I’ll need to start teaching myself the rudiments of InDesign. Now I’m feeling a little overwhelmed and stalling beginning the learning process.

I love books, so much so that my kids have asked me on more than one occasion whether I’m going to open a library, and being in a position to make my own is an amazing opportunity. But here’s the thing, I’ve spent a long time learning how to make my camera do what I want it to do which meant a long period of knowing what it was that I liked but not being able to get there – the Ira Glass video above is an apt description of this gap.

Does this apply to book design? Certainly, there are lots of tiny decisions that have to be made from small typographic questions such as whether or not to use ‘&’ in the title and what font to use to larger layout questions. Without getting these right the result will be jarring even if you couldn’t quite put your finger on what the problem is. Your work will suffer by how it’s presented.

While the answer of course is to make lots of books and test them in a safe environment, what to do for projects where you don’t have the time for those cycles of improvement?

I’m tempted to look for a book designer that I can work with to help me bring my first projects to life while I learn the rudiments of the software and the design process so that the books that I make present my work in the strongest way possible. What would you do?