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The Creative Gap: Becoming Better Than Most 165 Comments

Make more stuff, be the worst in the room, be comfortable with being uncomfortable, and be nice. A talk about how to make more stuff you like and eventually get paid for it by standing out and being better than most.

See all my speaking appearances here.

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  1. hello !!
    I hope the students realized the luck they have this day listening to your speech!!
    and will turn those advises into lifestyle!
    You recap this all UDGE-thingy with such MAESTRIA !!! it s ethic, phylosophic, good vibes and shit !!! ohh man!!

    I wish you are around L.A. one of these days to share some beer and talk!
    (sorry in advance for my poor english beeing french HAHAHA !!!)


  2. Hey NIck..I just want to say that you are an inspiration to are my role model.
    Im 15, im learning how to use Cinema 4D and I watched this video and from now each day Im creating a new animation/logo etc of some kind. Im not sure yet what to make but I think thats the best part.
    I just wanted to say thank you and I hope one day I can be as succesful as you =)

  3. Roger

    I’m probably twice your age, but you are my new hero.

    BTW, I had a drawing professor way back in 1976 that explained to me, without rules to work against, nothing can be any fun. I think you’re the first to mention this mindset that i can remember in the last decade or so.

  4. THANK YOU! Totally what i needed. I like the way you work! Great Ideas! Been stuck for a while. Am very excited about trying out your method with fine art as well as design.

  5. Andrey

    It’s exectly what I’m feeling and worrying about. Thanks a lot!!!! Keep doing that!

  6. Carlos


    Guys like you and Andrew kramer are cyber teacher for motionographers. Thank you so much. School is a must but the best part ultimately comes with the online world.

  7. pretty inspirational video! thanks for sharing it here, it is really good to see something like this… :)

  8. Nick, you are an inspiration to a growing designer. I will be graduating with my bachelors degree next year and through the course of the remainder of my degree, I will for sure be creating something everyday. I understand that repetition contributes to growth, and I will use that to keep the tension. Thanks for the insight!

  9. Nick!
    Immediately after watching this I started right on it! Creating something cool everyday and then posting it for the world to see:
    I’m going to try for 90 straight days, then perhaps a year! Its really changed my life, my career, and response from people.
    Thanks for all the inspiration, advice, jokes, and tutorials.

  10. Hugo Bernal

    Hi, I couldn´t finish watching the conference until yesterday, it was very good, I´m a teacher and I´m going to ask my students to watch it, because they are in the design area and it will be very useful for them.

    Great concepts and structure Nick, congratulations.

  11. Thanks so much for giving everyone a very remarkable opportunity to check tips from this site. It is always very amazing and also full of a good time for me personally and my office acquaintances to visit your web site at the very least three times per week to read through the new stuff you have got. And of course, we are at all times fulfilled considering the good things served by you. Certain 4 points in this posting are really the most impressive I’ve had. test

  12. OMG. 1 hour of Nick Campel.
    I I wnt wop spo womjt 😕 ? ???? ??? ????…

    Sorry, I cant control my 3Dgasm

  13. Classicgamer

    Cheers Nick, will watch this in a bit, always nice to have new videos of you.

  14. One beautiful story about beginning and never-ending process of design and art. The beauty of passion and the joy of creation. Thanks a bunch Nick for this lovely journey.

  15. kyle byrne

    OMG i you do actually have legs :O i was starting to doubt it because i only ever see your top half

  16. Abbie

    The Creative Gap: Becoming Better Than Most—_> Just be in LOVE !!

  17. Damn this was very inspirational! I wish I could attend to one of yours presentations. I also started with AE and then discovered Cinema. Just like you’ve said, it’s hard to use real 3d instead of the fake one but I’m getting there.

  18. Somebody needs to create a movie trailer for this “In a world where everything is awesome”

  19. Great Presentation. I am a web designer and I love animation, I am moving more into that field. =)Thanks for the inspiration.

  20. Matus

    Woow Nick, you realy inspired me. I think you are on our Hereos, who can learn us a lot :)

  21. Angie

    This was incredibly inspirational.
    I especially liked when you talked about the gap, I was VERY close to giving up as well. Thanks you for sharing this with the world.

  22. Bruce

    Hi Nick,

    Looking at the comments no doubt we’re living in the “everything is so awesome” age.

    In your presentations you always go the “watching tutorials, doing step by steps lessons won’t make you a better designer and won’t teach you the hard part” way.

    This is something really hard to listen to for people not in school trying to learn things by themselves with what they have access to (the internet).Really hard but…so true.

    So how do you learn the hard stuff?

    I wondered if you had any recommendations based on your experiment for good readings dealing with design, typography and color in a general way.

    When I say readings I obviously mean books (not the shiniests, latests ones but more classic ones) and authors that could be interesting for someone that never went to an art school but who really want to learn more about design.

    No criticism in my words, your teaching style is really dope and so is your “making cool shit” attitude :)

    Best greetz from france, sorry for the bad english and thanks for all the knowledge you share in such a cool way.

  23. Sweet talk. Lot’s to think about and try to remember from day to day. On a different note, it looked like you had to pee the whole time with your pacing back and forth. You don’t get nervous doing public talks do you?

  24. Very good presentation Nick,

    I have applied this same mantra to my work everyday. Especially being from outside the U.S. it is important to be just as good if not better than my peers in the U.S. if I am to survive as a designer.

    -Roshan Patel

  25. Veizer

    Thanks a lot for posting it. I see you carried that great talk about creativity that you tweeted a while ago by Ira Glass, it really inspired me too.

  26. tonyrome

    This is great.. thx for posting this dude.. you really motivate me and I need it at this point in my life.

    Thanks man.

  27. Wonderful presentation, Nick!
    Your honesty and candor are very refreshing–and inspirational. I’m glad that we are able to benefit from your wisdom and growth. For me anyway, it looks like your on the far side of my “gap”.
    Thank you!

  28. The last half of this video is SO important to juniors/seniors in art school. I had NO idea how to get work as a senior in college and I was becoming the best AE user in my class. I was asked one day at school to go help a local production company learn AE and have been working with them for over a year now. I didn’t expect money, I was just going along for the ride.

    Being nice, sharing your skills, helping people, and obviously networking (just meeting people) will set you apart in itself.

    Wish programs recognized that this knowledge needs to be taught EARLY. Not a demo reel class senior year.

  29. As an older cinematographer it is still very inspiring to me to have others ask the same questions I ask myself.
    Thanks Nick.
    btw: You are awsome!

  30. a friend recommend this video for me to watch. And I must admit, it caught my interest in the first 2 mins. But this video is over an 1hr long. Is there any place I could just grab the audio?

  31. bunkerboss

    Wow, Nick, right now you’re at the end of my gap;p But serious, this was really, really inspiring! Thanks for that one…

  32. begenning of the video indeed could be a good advert for coffe! 😀

    BTW i agree your point of view….use a tutorial is valuable only if you really ” make it yours”. i saw thousand of “copy-paste” tutorial from GSG or VC on Youtube… every time i think…what’s the mater?

    thx nick such speech is always motivate full..and also freaky!

  33. Hey Nick,

    Just wanted to say, great talk.. I’ve been in the mograph industry for over 11 years, and this talk hits all the points for me, just as it would for beginning students. Timeless advice that should be shared with all..

    You got charisma dude.. keep it up..

    By the way.. what room are you moving to nowadays, to be the worst in the room?

  34. Hey buddy,

    it is great to see how you improved your presentation skills! I listened to the “How to be creative and get paid” Mp3 on the tram this morning and it´s was awesome to see and hear you teaching! You really have a hand for that shit. Now thats enough candy dude HEHE See you soon!


    PS It´s still in the makin but check out and leave me some critique! THX

  35. Thanks for sharing, Nick. When you mentioned showing even your crappy work, I found I actually do that. I know not all of my work is very well crafted but the best thing you can do is post work on your site with the year they were created so an employer or recruiter can see how well you have progressed in your skills over time.

  36. I watched this and was Highly Inspired. Nick you’re a Great Speaker, One of my Favorite animators, and I enjoy watching you. I am soon going into Photography, (I’m taking a Class at my High School) do you have any Tips? (Reply if you can) Thank you.

  37. Keith

    I experienced a strange alignment of events today. Here’s how it went:

    1) Googled “design community”
    2) Clicked on 9rules Design Community (not knowing what the heck it was, but it was the first with a 2011 date…)
    3) Scrolled past a number of uninteresting sounding articles on 9rules to “Table UI Patterns”
    4) Arrived at, wasn’t interested in the article
    5) Followed “Design Inspiration” at brainfuel
    6) Checked out a few articles…
    7) Followed “The Southwest Airlines Web Team Deserves Kudos” article by Chris Tingom
    8) Jumped over to Dustin Curtis’s blog (
    9) Clicked a thumbnail of his redesign and followed the “Dear Dustin Curtis” link to read the response from AA’s UX architect
    10) Halfway down the page found a broken link to “Ira Glass on Storytelling, part 3 of 4” on YouTube.

    Fantastic talk, Nick. I seriously appreciate your insight, enthusiasm and powerful ability to inspire others in the design community. I’ve been a graphic designer for about 22 years – 10 of those in web design, and I have to say that you’re absolutely dead-on right. Thanks for the energy boost.

  38. Great info Nick! One part that hit me was about if you are the best one at your job to get out. Well I am the best one at my work because I am pretty much the only artist at my job, one or two other guys P/T. Been at the same house for 6 years now, and I feel I am starting plateau on my skills because there is know one to learn from here and its hard to leave cause I am in that dreadful comfort zone! Thanks again it made me think about my situation and inspired me to solve this problem!

  39. anythink

    Great stuff Nick. I graduated 3 1/2 years ago and i still find the stuff you talked about very useful.
    Just a question for you…
    From seeing your reel and hearing the music on it, was that your mates band? was it a collaborative thing?
    Do you have any tips on sound design/music sourcing for yours or anyone elses work? I know there are loads of stock sites out there but it all seems to be elevator music or just really cliche.
    Not much gets said about sound design for mograph and i think thats a shame because it goes towards half the impact of the finished piece. Cheers pal

  40. Roger Margido Proeis

    Great presentation Nick. Very inspirational.

  41. Really appreciate you posting this up and being a huge help to many people.

    Getting a job/work relies heavily on who you know. As a freelancer, I know the highs and lows of this fact.

  42. hikoseijuroo

    thanks for all the words. been listening to this american life for a long time also… i think ira glass should feature you in one of his radio shows.

  43. Peter

    YOU are the Gorilla and you inspire both noobs and pros in the best way in this business!

  44. Classicgamer

    Really enjoyed the video, some great no nonsense, interesting and very helpful tips and advice there. You look very confident talking up front like that Nick.

    Oh BTW loving those trainers/sneakers/shoes, they are rocking!

  45. Nittin

    Very inspiring nick :) There is more to you than just the beard 😉

  46. The internet is really awesome, Nick.
    How else would I watch his talk from Brazil?

    I follow daily the Gorilla and other blogs
    and that knowledge sharing is very
    important for my work and my career.

    Thank you.

  47. that’s very helpful for a depressed motion designer like me :)

  48. Reyernaldo Delva

    What’s up Nick. I gata question related to something you said. I live in the Bahamas. And for the past 2 year’s i’ve been learning C4D, After Effects and some other software from Fx Phd, Your tutorials , Robert Leger. and alot of other places.

    My question is in relations to Mixers, there is LITERALY no one else down here that can do Visual Graphics. And those that are trying do Crapy work and are comfortable with it. I’ve had a few people that i wanted to help out, and help them better their work but their comfortable with it. What should i do? How do i get people to see that they can better their work ?
    Thanx in advance.

  49. Jeremy

    Some advice my design lecturer gave us (in 1989) as we selected portfolio items before leaving the course and trying to find jobs in the teeth of a recession. (It chimes with your ugly work musings)

    *Do not be normal in your student work if you want to get a job* – your student work should leave your interviewer confused, and ask the question – Is this person brilliant or an idiot?

    In the interview round they’ll have seen dozens of me-too’s but why would they employ them? (They can already do the me-too themselves!)

    You’re going to be cheap if it’s a first job, they can take a risk. Ok – so they might get an idiot but they might well get a rising star that will make them pots of money and drive their company forward.

  50. Hey Nick once again great job. If I were to set up a seminar like that the school I’m attending how much do you charge? You can hit me up offline at my email.


  51. Zampa

    again and again..thank you for the incredible work!



  52. Inspiring stuff, Jumping in to Cinema right now, Reverse project !

  53. Fantastic Presentation Nick!
    Would have given anything to be there in person. You are such an inspiration to the community of designers. I would love to be a friend in person, too bad I’m all the way in Florida.

    Anyone that’s willing to share their thoughts on my work, feel free to do so. I’d be glad to return the favor. And if anyone is around 15-18, still learning the ropes of C4D and AE, and would like to chat regularly, and share tips, tricks, and critiques daily, be sure to send me a message!

  54. Nick!

    I wanted to thank you for posting this. As others have said, it’s as relevant to students as it is to us with 2 decades of experience. This stuff changes so quickly, and it can be tough to keep up, but if you have the old school skills to back you, you can learn the software and blow the doors off it!

    Thanks for posting this and for refreshing my inner drive. Make cool shit everyday! I hope to do so!

    You rock!

  55. Shelby

    Such an honor to have you come visit us! And so glad to know you taped it, it was the most inspirational speech :)

  56. Awsomology….. that’s what that presentation was. I’ve been checking the blog here for a bit, but that inspired me to actually post a comment for the first time. I REALLY appreciate what you do Nick. I come from an audio background, but have been teaching myself motion graphics and VFX for a little over a year now…. hell…. a year and a half ago I didn’t even know what a ‘polygon’ was in reference to 3D or ever heard the term ‘keyframe’… This blog has been an amazing source of info, inspiration and all around awsome-ness for both C4D and After Effects.

    Thanks again.

  57. I´ll be repeating but…great talk! working as a freelancer sometimes I get the feeling of isolation so the community part really resonates to me. Cheers

  58. fantastic talk nick, very inspirational. you just gave me a kick up the ass to create something everyday.


  59. I wish I’d seen this while I was at uni. Just graduated and realised the importance of getting integrated in to the community – but it’s a lot harder post graduation like you talk about. This was a really inspirational talk, Cheers.

  60. hi nick! very inspiring! at the moment I’m struggling with “getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable” and you just made my day 😉 thanks!

  61. Love it so much. Thanks for this. I’m about to graduate in march and this was very helpful, although I play with cinema for kicks and giggles, I really love logo design. But what is a good forum to visit about logo design to get involved with the community? If anyone knows please reply to my message.

  62. John Von Vincent

    Regardless of the access to information and tools – its all about content and this something that separates those who can and those who can’t. This is not meant to be discouraging but anybody can go to grocery store but everybody can cook.

  63. This was a very inspiring talk! There will always be someone better than you out there in the world. You can only pursue mastery because you’ll never attain it. The goal post is always being moved so you have to push yourself forward and ‘get uncomfortable’.

  64. Hi Nick,
    You’re so inspiring,and positive.
    “The creative gap” and “getting comfortable with being uncomfortable” especialy hit home for me.
    I’ve been afraid to show my work because of the gap.
    Hearing you say – when I don’t like my finished project as much – the next day, week, etc. is a good thing – it helps turn that negative feeling into a positive for me.
    (5 sec project here I come even if it does suck!)
    Thanks for sharing this, and thank you for sharing your story, I wondered how you came into this.

  65. i don’t understand why there were two obvious microphones in the room and neither of them were being fed into the camera? i stopped the vid around 30 seconds; bad audio is such a huge turn off.

  66. stopped at 53:16 for me, just as you showed up your reeln hopz i dd not miss anything !
    nice presentation Nick, you’re on the way to TED …
    thanks alot for these advices. cheers.

  67. jonnyv

    What typeface did you use for the ultra condensed fonts? (i.e. the one you used for the font)

    It wasn’t Franklin Gothic I know, and not Univers either…

    could you provide the name or a link for purchase? I like the feel of this font

  68. I’m a big fan now. Love your style of teaching and great attitude!

  69. You have expressed exactly what’s happening in our industry.
    This vid should be compulsory in every school of design over the world.
    See you on the Offf Barcelona. By the way, Have you ever been over here before?

  70. Like I already Twittered I think that this kind of lectures make you the Seth Godin or Scott Belsky for a new generation of designers/creatives. Their books changed the way I look at creating stuff and how I work over the last year.

    Just to illustrate the importance of this: The idea of “shipping” motivated me to release my Free Instant Camera Kit for C4D ( in the first place! V1 wasn’t really finished in my eyes on XMAS’10 but I set that as a deadline because it needed to be an XMAS gift, so I just shipped it and have been getting great response (and paid freelance jobs) ever since! Which was again a motivation to make V2.

    Keep up the good work and hoping to see you speaking in The Netherlands some time soon :)

  71. Thomas

    Average is death!

    Not being able to market yourself and show an understanding for the customer’s problems is death. If You are good at that I think You Can get away with being “slightly above average”, but being awesome is of course better.

  72. Valentin

    WOW, you were nervous at the beginning.

    Still have to watch the entire video, but so far it looks solid and you make some good points!

  73. Martin Andersson

    Im just half way through and this is already the best lecture I have ever watched in my entire life. Nick if anything, YOU are awesome :)

  74. Julien

    Woozz man, like an inspirationRoulette with only one number… You got me thinking, that’s for sure. Maybe woke me up. I don’t know. What I do know is that I will watch it over and gonna make a few changes in my approach. Thanks a lot!

  75. AlexMamontov

    It’s really useful and motivating lecture, so motivating, thanks Nick!

  76. Hey Nick, thanks for sharing this! Started this video last night and couldn´t stop watching. Very interesting, especially the part about the importance of a deadline.

  77. Edgar

    Hey Nick,
    I am a 3rd year graphic design student and I love what you are doing. Thank you so much for your tutorials and your creative tips for young designers. You are very inspiring .

  78. Thanks Nick. This is a great presentation and gives me a lot of ideas how to push my skills forward. Great stuff!

  79. This was very inspirational and integrated many of your previous articles in one incredibly nice presentation. Thank you, you have made motion graphics approachable and creative. Because of your past articles I have read Lynchpin and incorporated many of your suggestions into my life.

  80. Dr. Dre

    I’ve always been curious about your decision to leave DK, most would consider that a crazy move. Did you really fire yourself to make iPhone apps…or to indulge yourself in the software and create tuts? Do you support yourself mostly from your products?

    And you said you don’t think you’ll be making tuts in 5 years. Where do you see yourself?

    Last, we’ve all heard it takes 10,000 to be really good at something. Over the last 5 years, how many hours a day/week did you spend on average at a computer getting good?

  81. Excellent lecture Nick. I’ve actually passed this on to my old lecturer at University to show to his current students as I believe you’ve hit the nail right on the head.

    Interestingly for me I seem to be in the process of following very similar footsteps to yourself if not slightly in reverse: I came from a design background but I’m currently developing my skills in After Effects and Cinema4D in order to produce similar work to your own whilst still working on other stuff like Web design, iPhone Apps and more.

    Doing lectures and tutorials is also something I’ve considered but I’ve not got round to doing them yet so this has also been inspirational and motivational.

    Keep it up!


  82. Totally agree. What’s really scary is all of these template sites that are out there and the potential they have of taking work away from us designers.

  83. You are so steep as Artemy Lebedev in the creation of sites in Russia, as you are in the field of video design! Thank you for your efforts and work!

  84. streeture

    Great piece of inspiration! I watched it all in one go and drew a lot of DOES and DON’TS for my future out of it.

    Thanks for sharing.

    PS: nice shoes ^^

  85. Nice! I used to go to Saa and suggested Flick bring you in, so pumped you posted this since I couldn’t make it back!

  86. Awesome vid, most of the things you say are spot on, very true and explained with the exact words.

    These students were very lucky to get this lecture, I hope they appreciated it ! We sure all did.

    Thanks so much, it’s a good video to watch after a day of work. It makes me want to work even more, now :)

  87. Awesome Nick.
    Got me excited. I think my city needs bit of a group like this. It’s like im the only one who knows about graphics around here…

    Thanks for the video, I hope you can put all others in the future.

  88. Bruce

    Hello Hamilton,

    This is really kind, thank you very much for these links.
    There are so many books out there dealing with design and typography that it is really hard to know where to begin with, and having this kind of advice is more than precious.
    Oh and please don’t be sorry, i read english as fine as i read french so this selection will fit my needs just perfectly.
    Once again big thanks.

  89. Don’t confuse experience with time spent using a program or making pen-tool logos for friends against life experience that you can draw creative ideas from & industry experience. :)

  90. When looking at the character terminals and the spur of the G you can see that franklin Gothic was not used. I own Knockout also and can verify the use.

    Although Nick it looks as though you did some stretching & squashing – tisk tisk – One should know it is sacrilegious to bastardize fonts.

  91. haha, good to know. I guess the angle distorts it slightly but I thought your “ASK WHY & TRY IT FIRST” Slides looked tweeked.

  92. I’m not sure how the notification system works on here, so I don’t know if you guys will see this post, but I’m curious as to the sacrilegious notion of stretching fonts. I don’t come from a typography design background, so I’m not familiar with this obvious no-no.

  93. that’s what I assumed, but never actually have been told. thanks for the clarification. i’ll be sure to keep that in mind before i grab those handles!

  94. I’m thinking of getting shared office space downtown where I can be surrounded by talented people I admire and learn from them. That is my next “room” where I hope to be the worst in.

  95. Lol, I look at my work in comparison to my idols and say I suck like everyday. Once & awhile you get glimpses of your progression and that stoke is a good feeling to ride till the next suck moment; which usually ends up being the next day again haha.

  96. hah, what an ironic comment, since the deadline has already past, nice speech nick 😉

  97. The short of it is that designers slave hours over making sure these font’s look the way they do, and you will be screwing up a perfectly good thing if you stretch it. If you need to stretch a font, then you probably have the wrong typeface to begin with anyway.

  98. I meant… the video stopped solely at 53:16 i did not stop it !
    But who are you to reply my message ?
    who, me ?
    Yes !
    but you know who !
    So who?
    I’m you,
    whom, me ???
    yes you, you are me !
    and so the foolish left the room

  99. Great questions with long answers. I left DK because I was having so much fun making apps and doing tutorials. I wanted to see if I could make it a business. So far, it seems to be working.

    In five years, I have no idea. But I’m sure it will be another direction that I head in that i’m passionate about.

    I spend over 10 hours every day doing things I love to do. I spend most of my free time trying new things and having fun doing it. Those hours add up fast and I find myself eventually getting better and better at stuff. It’s a slow process, but it’s definitely fun.

    I am trying to talk more about this stuff at if you haven’t checked it out yet.


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Comment Rules

This is a friendly community. Please treat everyone with respect. We don't all have to agree, but we do have to be nice. Criticism is fine, but rude comments and name calling will be deleted. Use your real name and don't be spammy. Thanks for adding to the conversation.