The Gap: An Inspirational Video About How All Artists Struggle in the Beginning

We’re not in the habit of reposting things we’ve covered before, even though at least once per week we run across some post or video from a few years ago that is going ‘re-viral’ and is being covered by everyone who missed it the last go around (and some who didn’t).

For this video, however, we’re making an exception. And we beg your forgiveness for that but the truth is, our readership has more than doubled since 2012 and it would be an injustice not to share this with those new readers. Plus, those who have already seen it will definitely benefit from re-visiting this motivational message.

The video above is a fresh take on an old snippet of interview that NPR’s Ira Glass of the show This American Life gave back in 2009 (it initially went viral in early 2012). It’s an inspirational ‘don’t give up’ message for beginners that describes what Glass calls ‘The Gap’ between your taste and your skill that exists when you first begin any artistic endeavour.


With all of the arts, and photography certainly applies, many of those who decide to pursue their passion often find that the work they produce initially — perhaps for the first several years — is just no good. This is because, says Glass, their skill isn’t fully developed, and yet they have ‘killer taste’ that allows them to immediately see this fact.

This often leads to dissatisfaction and ultimately throwing in the towel, but Glass encourages you to stay the course. You still have phenomenal taste, and over time your skills will improve to match that taste, especially if you follow his advice and do a LOT of work.

Of course, he says it much better than I can write it, so if you need a bit of a pick-me-up be sure to check out the video at the top and, if you want more, head over to the original 5-minute interview by clicking here.

(via Reddit)

  • edgardo

    the problem with kids is that they DON’T want to take a while! they want to be famous right now. no hard work, just fun.

  • Pixily Frame

    Thanks for sharing – great video!

  • JC

    I think the problem is often bigger than that, they want to be famous not good

  • olafs_osh

    not only kids, sir. recently I was fortunate enough to assist with lighting to one photographer in his 5-day masterclass.There was something about 10-15 people limit and the class was massively expensive. And what do you think? Most photographers there was lazy and sometimes I couldn’t believe the simple stuff they don’t know. Also, they just copied the set-up or wanted an exact answer on “how to take an image of the ring?” or “how to correctly take an image of the person in profile”. Not a lot of them truly understood, that masterclass is here to teach them to think, not give specific answers.

    on the side note – I am exactly in that gap now. for couple months or even more [winter ain’t helping much as well, as I shoot outside and hate cold]. great simple video.

  • Christina Heinle

    Thank you. Just this morning I was thinking I should just pack up my camera and stop trying.

  • p.rock

    Yep. In fact, I think that’s the #1 problem plaguing most of our art and pop culture. Too many people are creating with fame being the ultimate goal, instead of simply the love of creating or the need to express. That’s why there is so much crap out there…music, photography, modern art, contemporary fiction, etc.

  • Simon Cordingley

    Yes, a timely video for me too. Thanks for digging it out of the vault.

  • Bingo

    I saw this a couple of days ago on vimeo staff picks page and was thinking how good it was. It is rare to see such a simple truth of life expressed in a creative way.

  • Rnld

    Watching this video made me realize how true this is is for me at the moment, although it is slightly comforting to realise I’m not the only failing perfectionist on the block..

  • Peter

    It’s not so much the video that makes this special, it’s the audio. I hope everyone can realize that. It reminds me of that slow motion wedding video edited to Blurred Lines music. It was AWESOME. However, since they swiped the song without permission, they had to put the video to different tunes. Guess what, it now sucks.

  • Kyle Clements

    The problem is you need a certain degree of fame to sell enough work to afford the luxuries in life, like rent, supplies, and food, so you have the ability to work and get good.

  • michael

    I quit a year ago because i was feeling all of this and it was frustrating. i always told myself that so many important people above me would say my work has got nothing to it even though so many people below (or who i thought were below me – on a photography level- nothing else) loved my work. so I’ve been out of it for a while and took on another hobby. is it too late to get back into things?

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  • keru

    I think you can blame the music industry for this.
    Major creating from scratch “fake” famous musician with 0 talents, and hope it works. Sometime it works, and kids/teens want to be part of it.

  • Ariadne

    It’s never too late. Dust off that camera and get out there.

    I dropped my hobby of art (drawing/painting mainly) 10 years ago before picking it back up again recently. Now I’m at art college. I am really struggling with feeling rubbish at it at the moment but this video has helped me. Going to keep going with it and hopefully it will start to fall into place one day.

  • ajfudge

    Blame the reality shows.