Ira Glass (1959-) is a radio broadcaster and host of the award-winning program and podcast This American Life. My cousin in the States recently recommended the podcast and it’s great. This quote came from an interview Glass did about the storytelling process. And here’s a cool moving typography version.
I hate to get all meta and self-indulgent on you by drawing myself into a comic, but this quote perfectly summed up my creative journey. I get a lot of emails from aspiring artists asking me “What’s the best advice you can give me?” or “I’ll never be able to draw as good as you”. I hope people don’t think I left my old job and just picked up a pencil for the first time and starting making these Zen Pencils comics. It doesn’t work like that.
Before Zen Pencils, I had been making regular comics for at least five years. I was lucky enough to get a comic strip published in a local paper which required me to do one comic a week, every week of the year, for five years. Around 3 years ago, I got another comic published in a different paper. So for the last 3 years I was making two different comics a week. That’s roughly (52 x 5 = 260) + (52 x 3 = 156) 416 comics in the last five years on top of working my regular job BEFORE I had even thought of Zen Pencils. And I would say at least 200 of those comics are terrible and I would be embarrassed to show them to you. Before those newspaper comics, I did a lot of illustration projects in university, high-school and have been constantly drawing since I was a toddler.
In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell writes about the 10,000 hour rule, which basically states that in order to become a successful professional it takes 10,000 hours of practice. He uses examples, like how The Beatles played in Hamburg non-stop for two years honing their skill before they even recorded their first track.
So the best advice I can give to any young person, no matter what their pursuit: PUT IN THE WORK!
- TRUE: One of my fondest childhood memories is watching Looney Tunes cartoons at my grandmother’s house while eating potato chips.
- FALSE: I never worked at McDonald’s, but I did work briefly at a local fast-food joint.
- TRUE: I’ve had the same haircut for 29 years.
- Thanks to Jeffrey and Geoffrey for submitting this quote.
- RELATED COMICS: Make Good Art. The Life of Art.