Keen on Quality

December 15, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

The awareness of true skill or the activity that one does most efficiently or which produces the highest quality product is a crucial awareness that individuals should seek to develop. In a recent article on Life Hacker, This American Life‘s Ira Glass was presented as an example of someone who considers the quality of the product during the creative process. We must sacrifice creations that are sub-par, effectively considering each creation for its value and slaughtering any low-grade creations as soon as possible. Glass, the article suggests, is a single example of successful creators whose skill to discarding low-quality products allow for greater artistic evolution.

Too often we fall victim to the limited perspective provided to an audience. As receivers of the end-product, the audience is not aware of the creative process. Whether the creation before us was an instantaneous creation gifted from the heavens is unknown to us. Did the work come only after hours, days or weeks of toil? We cannot know and often assume the artist’s work is an automatic process wherein high quality work is gifted from the heavens. Artists work to support this divine notion as well, quotations from Michael Jackson and Keith Richards document a belief that artistic musings come from a source beyond the artist and, as Jackson suggests, are better left alone and avoided in lieu of blocking the artistic gift.

We only see the great performances. When we read the novel it has been edited by numerous minds, corrected and revised countless times so that the printed paper copy in our hand is a high-quality final product. Likewise the performance in the film is the result of hours of practice and, if presented in recorded form, likely cleaned and edited in order to create a product as closely tied to the creator’s ideal form as possible. Technology only complicates this.

The consequences of this disconnect is a danger of assumption. Removed from the creative process, the audience may fall victim to assuming artistic creation is automatic and free from hard labor. Under such a notion, the audience may pursue artistic creation with an unrealistic expectation, expecting that a work of great genius will be delivered automatically. The danger comes in the denial of this provision and in the reaction of the desiring creator comes a significant adjustment either the interested creator gives up or decides they are “ungifted” and not capable of creating something unique.

There is not remedy for this situation beyond an increased awareness. We need to recognize the hard work that creative production entails and avoid the assumption that great work comes automatically. Any job that produces high quality material often requires a significant effort. It is too true that “effort in equals product out.” It’s the elbow grease we need and, blessed with a reasonable provision of patience, we might just find a product worthy of our desperate need and effort.

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