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“To be good is not enough.”

Jacek Utko

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Brief thoughts on the distance between amateur and expert.

So way back when I was a student, I would attend lectures at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. I’d sit there and listen to real pros talk about their work. But their logic never really connected for me. They’d describe a creative problem, and then flip to the next slide and begin explaining the jaw-droppingly beautiful solution they conceived. Honestly, I never understood how they got to their solutions. Seriously, I remember specifically thinking “How the hell did Stefan Sagmeister go from doodles in a notebook to photographing tubing in a swimming pool?” To this student, these professionals seemed to intellectually be on another level. It felt like their level of articulation and creative execution could only be achieved by nothing less than enlightenment. This excited me to no end.

It all seemed like magic. I thought about how thrilling it’d be to someday talk to a group of students and make them ponder over the source of my creative genius. That was only three years ago. I’ve rewatched some of these lectures and solutions that once seemed brilliant and original now seem obvious and merely rational. I’m still the same person that watched the pros in bewilderment. I’m still learning. I’ve not transcended nor have I reached graphic design enlightenment. I expected to climb a mountain but all I really needed was to take a step forward. Now I’m not saying I’m a great designer, I have a long way to go. What I’m saying is that it took little time to realize my misconceptions. The measure between amateur and expert is time, not distance.