How a 2009 Interview With Ira Glass Still Inspires Struggling Young Creatives Today

Advice for frustrated beginners

Once again, advice for young creatives from Ira Glass has inspired a short Internet film designed to motivate those who may be struggling to refine their work until it shines.

This time around, the filmmaker is 18-year-old motion graphics designer Saar Oz, who recently finished school and now serves in the film unit of the Israel Defense Forces. He created "Nobody Tells This to Beginners" using text from a 2009 interview with Glass, the host of National Public Radio's This American Life.

In the film, Glass' familiar voice is never heard. Instead, Oz animates his words in a punchy, playful style. The effect is reminiscent of Google's typing-on-screen ad motif, though a bit more loose and casual.

"All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste," Glass says near the start. "For the first couple years you make stuff, it's just not that good. … But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you."

Closing that gap by setting, and keeping, personal creative deadlines and grinding through a volume of work is the key. "It's going to take a while," says Glass. "It's normal to take a while. You've just gotta fight your way through."

Oz says that guidance really resonates with him. "I used to get really angry at whoever didn't like [my work] as much as I did," he told AdFreak. "A year ago, I printed Ira's quote and placed it near my computer screen, so that whenever I feel like my work isn't good enough—and this happens quite often—I read it, not skipping a word, take a breath and start over. Reading it over and over again for the past year helped me a lot when I decided to make this video, as I wanted people watching it to feel exactly the way I feel when I read it."

Glass' wisdom also inspired The Gap, a video made in 2012 by German photographer and visual artist Daniel Sax, who uses audio clips from the radio host's interview to narrate his production. Sax presents Glass' words and phrases—"creative work," "taste," "gap"—in a stylized manner: written on a chalkboard, spray-painted graffiti-style across artworks and clinging to a spoon dripping alphabet soup.

"I made it for myself and for anybody who is in doubt about his/her creative career," Sax said. "Ira Glass' message isn't only limited to the creative industry. It can be applied to everyone who starts out in a new environment and is willing to improve."

Creatively, Sax's approach is a world apart from Oz's simpler, more streamlined take. Yet both methods are appealing and effective in getting their points across. Moreover, they illustrate facets of Internet life that should give budding creatives some extra inspiration. Today, beginners cannot only learn from seasoned pros like Glass, but also "collaborate" with their heroes, post work for instant feedback and—if they're lucky, like Oz—reach a global audience. (His film is approaching 140,000 YouTube views in a week, not bad for a niche project from an unknown teenager.)

"I guess the greatest lesson viewers can take from this video is to love the work you hate," he said, "and use it to become better next time. The greatest creatives of history made some shitty work until they became great."

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.
Publish date: January 6, 2015 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT