April 27, 2012


YoTung on Flickr -

Image: YoTung on Flickr -

You will suck. Deal with it.

Take your urge to paint, your desire to write or your compulsion to create something in the world and commit to moving it forward even when you suck or fail. Because you will.

“you can tell that what you are making is kind of a disappointment”

Every artist is faced with the challenge that their taste is years ahead of their abilities. It is what keeps us striving and searching for a better expression of that which tantalizes and compels us. Ira Glass rubs our noses in the truth of this.

“We get into [our artform] because we have good taste. [...] And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you are making is kind of a disappointment to you. You can tell that it's still sort of crappy. A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people, at that point, they quit.”

Contrary to what some people say, most of your friends, family and extended network will not validate your efforts. We shouldn't expect them to. They are right to question our abilities based on our initial output. As Ira Glass says in the video above, it will take years of hard work to not suck at something.

Take my recent journey as a case in point - transitioning from a senior and well paid strategy guy to an artist, photographer and dog trainer. A very dear friend told me, “You can't just throw away the past ten years of your life!” He was not alone. Many shook their heads, others rolled their eyes, and some just smirked and waited for me to hit rock bottom and come crawling back to reality.

It is the strong and noble individual who will support you on your journey even when the output is clearly not "exceptional" or even "worthy of attention." These rare few are judging us on our passion and fire, not our work.

This is an old problem. I can't even begin to list the artists who were not supported by society in their day. Van Gogh certainly jumps to mind. Thank god he didn't give up (although that might have allowed him to die with two ears attached to his head).

Commit yourself to moving forward even when you suck or fail. Because you will.

To persevere while sucking at something is both freeing and a requirement to creating something truly beautiful or meaningful. recently ran an article on the wonderful street artist YoTung. He is driven, passionate and has embraced sucking. Interestingly, I love his work!

“I think I make a lot more bad ones than good ones. Good street photographs are very hard to make and thus far I don’t feel like I have many that I feel truly proud of.”

“I threw a small framed print of one of my street photos into a secret Santa gift exchange this past Christmas, mostly because I’d forgotten I needed to bring something to the party and I didn’t have anything else available. I hoped maybe someone would appreciate it, but no one really got it. ‘It’s a dude in an alley’ was the confused response.”

I recently judged someone as "not being very good". I can't say I'm proud of this, but it's the truth. It wasn't until a day later that it hit me. This isn't about being "good": it's about sucking and pushing forward regardless. Respect.