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How Beginners Get Better: Ira Glass Explains 53 Comments



Ira sums up in a five minute video what took me years to figure out. Follow these four rules and you will become better at what you do. Period.

1. Have good taste.
2. it’s OK to suck. You will get better over time.
3. Set project deadlines to practice and get better!
4. Be patient and don’t quit. It takes a while.

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53 Comments

  1. Chad Clendinen

    Ira Glass is brilliant and inspiring. Great post!

    Reply
  2. Very inspirational. You can hear it a million times, but I really think you NEED years to really figure it out. Not to mention if you’re not continuing to learn more about it, you’re dead in the water.

    Nice post, Nick!

    Reply
  3. Colortrails

    While the good taste part can be pretty subjective, especially in visual arts, some great points. Doesn’t matter what you do: it always boils down to your drive and your refusal to accept anything that’s less than what you’re capable of. Thanks for posting this because it reminds us that it doesn’t really matter whether you’re a writer, musician or graphic artist. Same rules apply generally.

    Reply
  4. Kurtis Thomas

    This is brilliant advice and so inspiring as I start to dive into the world of the Cinema 4D. Thanks for sharing Nick!!

    Reply
  5. Great stuff.
    Imo you need to spend some time making crappy stuff to evolve. It doesn’t help to just hear something inspirational you just need to go through that phase.

    Reply
  6. The other 3 videos in this series are also worth a watch. All-round sage advice on the creative process.

    Making mistakes – and realising you’re making them- is an essential part of getting better at what you do. Doing lots and lots of work just for yourself, in your spare time, reduces the chances of these mistakes making their way into your professional work. I’ve only truly realised this for myself in the last 6 months or so (or rather stared doing anything about it), and the ‘gap’ (as Ira puts it) between what I want to make and what I’m capable making of is beginning to shrink.

    Reply
  7. highfivejohn

    Those poor mexicans :(

    And yes, I agree with everything he said and find it really encouraging.

    Reply
  8. This is encouraging. I just had to compile all my work from last year to show the new VP… Holy Crap do I suck! Thanks for the pep talk! Hopefully sucking wears off soon.

    Reply
  9. wow thanks that was just what i needed, his words were like so uplifting and inspirational thats it im a feirce worrior now.

    thanks nick

    Reply
  10. i suck @ motion grafix but i love it :) . some people who dont have a clu about design sometimes say “oh that looks great” but i know i suck and it will be a long way to go to be where i want do be. sometimes its frustrating when you put alot of time and heart blood in some project and at the end you realise you could make it better. like mr. glass sad everyone is going through that phase and that gives me motivation do keep on doing it. next step for me is to quit my work as a shiftleader in a big factory and start study brand design and hopefully be a bachelor of arts in the next few years.

    Reply
  11. very interesting and inspirational for me. Thanks gorilla.

    Reply
  12. thx nick. this video really inspire me, right now im on that situation “have a good sense” but sometimes it suck to make a project, and what I got is to be patient, and DON’t quit /giveup!
    yeah maybe this is the hard time. but if we pass this, we gonna be a winner for sure…

    Reply
  13. This is great. I watched all four parts. In the second part, it talks about attacking the story and getting straight to the great parts. Great advice for reels as well. Well, I’m going to get back to tastefully sucking.

    Reply
  14. AKEman

    Nick is that your grandpa? He sounds a little bit like you and he waves his hands at least as much as you. And he has as great lessons as you have. Thanks for this post!

    Reply
  15. Jeremy

    Hey Nick,

    It’s like you were reading my mind! This could not have come at a better time, seriously. I can’t tell you how many times in my life that I’ve quit or given up because I thought I “sucked” and didn’t give my chance to succeed or fail, I just gave up and it’s cost me a lot of things in my life… and I have to stop doing it!

    Thanks again man, catch ya later.

    J

    Reply
  16. This video really gives me a boost. Everything i want to make, is in me head really smooth. But when i’m making it, in the end it looks horrible. Believe me really horrible. Thank nick for this video. It really gives me a positive feeling and ill just continue trying to make cool things

    Reply
  17. Tony Agliata

    Thanks for posting that Nick. Great advise. I am 42 and have been doing this for about 20yrs. Still not as good as I want to be.

    Reply
  18. Brandon Joens

    “All of you here have one hundred thousand bad drawings in you. The sooner you get rid of them, the better it will be for everyone.”

    ~ Chuck Jones

    “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”

    ~Jim Rohn

    If you want to design, you’ll need to do it a lot. If you want to design, you’ll be willing to do it a lot. I love these two quotes. They really helped me sort through what it was exactly I wanted to do with my life. Hope it helps someone else too.

    Reply
  19. Thank you so much for posting this, Nick. I feel like I’m at that point where I’m teetering on being a great designer, but every time I make something I end up hating it because I know it could be so much better. I really appreciate people like you who give your spare time to help the community. When I get to the level where I am able, I’ll follow your example and give back as much as I can. Thanks bro!

    Reply
  20. Javier

    Thank you for posting this… Everytime someone asks me to show them some work I’ve done thus far I’m like, no f*&%ing way it’s such drivel.

    Reply
  21. To be honest it scares me :P
    I know i have to work hard but i need a little company with me…

    I am probably 1 of 100 people who works on 3d in the whole city…

    My band puts presure on me to finish our ep, there are plenty of people for music. Not 3d.. I feel alone.

    Thanks Nick for this site, helps me having someone to listen.

    Reply
  22. The strange discordance in all this is that if you reach the point that the work you are making is as good as your ambitions what next?

    Each project, person, and company is unique. Each will have varying ideas of good taste. Your good taste is now diluted and the new challenge is determining how to protect the good taste you have been working on for years and at the same time maintain a healthy working relationship with the client.

    I guess to sum this all up I am saying that this idea of good is mostly a mental stumbling block. A real working relationship is mostly about the clients needs not your ambitions. Being good at using something like C4D or the Adobe group of products is not really what design is about. It’s about using your ability to solve problems and communicate those solutions to your clients or peers verbally and visually.

    Reply
  23. zkaziee

    wow, its the second time that you post a video about designers way of thinking and way of be, (this one and the other of philosophernotes on makecoolshit) that are 100% connected with me, realy i review myself with this kinds of thoughs. thank you Nick

    Reply
  24. Gedela

    I suck and worst i have bad taste!! The thing is i watch tv movies etc etc, and sometime all i see is the Andrew Kramer way!

    Ofcourse i can tell when graphics sucks specialy mine, but that does not make me a graphic artist with good taste.

    For real, nearly every motion graphic i see on TV is from some one else, pure copy.

    Of course, sometime i dream that i will be as good as the Monkey, Chris or Nick with Cinema4D but i doubt i will…Not that don’t trust my self but i know my levels.

    Thanks to Nick and all the C4D comunity for sharing knowledge about 3D.

    Peace everyone…

    Reply
    • Agent99

      “Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers.”

      -Mark Pincus, Founder of Zynga

      Reply
  25. Stephen

    There’s an adage in writing as well. “You have to write a half million words of crap, before you can write one good one”

    I guess there is a “Universal Law of Creativity” and practice, practice, practice is one of them.

    Reply
  26. Maarc

    Thank You so much for sharing that …
    It’s motivating ! :D

    Reply
  27. Taste is subjective. You can’t tell people to ‘have good taste’. What are you judging it against, your own?

    Reply
    • Taste referes to the quality of work that you know is possible and that you love in this context. Your good taste sets a bar to hit.

      Reply
  28. great insight- when i stop noticing progression in my own work it is usually when i have moved on. The motivation for progression and understanding i find to be the most productive place i can be in.

    Reply
  29. Goran Markovic

    Hey GSG i have a question about the tut “the tracer object” Can i at the end of vibrate thing turn this shape into the letter? So at the end some copyline is made from this shapes.
    TNX a lot and once again great tuts….

    Reply
  30. I like that post, i think that when you’re a beginner and you hear someone with all that experience saying that, it gives you confident to carry on.

    Reply
  31. Andre Friedman

    Hey,Nick.You rock seriously.Thank you for encouraging posts..

    Reply
  32. Really good stuff. I’m a programmer by trade simply for the fact that I was never able to bust through the mediocre design walls. It is the most frustrating thing in the world.

    Guess I need to get back at it, so I may one day “Make Cool Shit”.

    Reply
  33. That was some tasty food for thought. I shared it with a few people that are newer to motion graphics for some insight.

    I like to try to remain my own worst critic about the things I make, and occasionally I take a step back and say, wow- i kinda like that. I guess my take on it is that if you stay hungry for knowledge and pushing yourself harder, you’re going to get better than the next person who’s already patting themselves on the back.

    i really appreciated his thoughts on putting yourself in an environment where you need to crank out work. It really does make you better, but sometimes you start feeling like a cook at a fast food restaurant, wishing you had the time to make 4-star calliber meals. I guess thats why ive always appreciated time off to do some GSG tutorials and learn new techniques.

    Reply

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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.