I was thinking about it, and then I stumbled randomly across this video:
(on the gap in good taste versus good execution)
"But it's like there's a Gap. The first couple years that you're making stuff, what you're making isn't so good, okay: it's not that great. It's trying to be good, it has ambition to be good - but it's not that good." - Ira Glass
I randomly thought of this the other day in class as I struggled through a type specimen. It went though a big ugly phase - I'm a believer that things usually look ugly before they start to look good (and that's actually right in line with this) - and finally after two weeks I got it to what was good enough for print. And then I thought: "This is alright! It turned out alright! Wait a minute. This is not good, though." I mean, I recognize it as alright, for right now: but in 5 years I know I will think this is not good. Know what I mean?
The thing is: I'm slightly jealous of 20-or-so year olds who don't yet know this. That when you have been working for even as little as 2 years, your student film - the one you thought was good - is a hideous scary thing that you don't want associated with your portfolio by any means. (I may be speaking from experience here...ahem). Heck, even drawings you did last year are no longer looking so hot. And the 'portfolio' of pencil drawings you accumluated through highschool? They're pretty comical - in a keep-this-its-so-funny kind of way. You thought those were so good, coming out of highschool - didn't you? I know I did.
Maybe, like me, you thought you were 'good' (or at least getting better) and are now realizing you aren't - lol. That you haven't had the time and practice required to get better, yet. Or maybe your visual taste seems a bit more defined for you than what you actually produce (I am often in this phase, too). Either way:
It's simple: the more you do, the better you get.
If you haven't done a lot, you're not better yet.
The older you get and the more you do, the more you are conscious of this.
The more you're conscious of this, the harder it is to ignore.
For example, now that I'm almost a new designer at 30 I'm trying to pretend I won't think that the stuff I'm designing right now will look like crap in 5 years. I mean - I'm hoping it won't, but odds are - it will. My illustrations will look flat after I learn more techniques and I'll probably find faux-paus all over my typography assignments: like Ira Glass says in that video, though, if you listen to this little voice you're at the risk of being discouraged to keep creating and get better.
So here are some things I've found to start briding the gap, for myself:
1. Look at a lot of precedents
If you're a designer, follow what's happening in design. What's current? What are your contemporaries making? What came before and after you? What has been done in what you're currently doing? I'm a firm believer that soaking it all in develops your taste and your knowledge: if you've never seen a vintage-style sign before and just try to make one, it's going to look crappy. on the other hand, if you've seen signs old and new you'll have more of a fighting chance of making a good one.
2. Curate & refine your taste
The best thing I ever did was start a Pinterest account. Everytime I see something I visually love, I file it away. When I go back to look at my boards, I start to notice patterns: I think seeing them altogeher somewhere grouped by similar properties makes things like what colors, eras, and textures you gravitate towards more obvious. If you just try to note these things everytime you see a picture you like in your head, you end up kind of getting a distorted idea of what you like - as opposed to seeing it laid out there.
3. Is the gap closing up?
If you're stuck in that stage where the gap doesn't seem to be moving - your taste and your ability aren't getting closer to connecting - and you can never quite realize your vision in what you produce don't worry: I'm still here! I will be for a while. Just keep looking and doing and practicing and absorbing.
4. Remember: you're only conscious of it once you've been through it
So enjoy your obliviousness to it! Think, instead, "Damn! This is good. I got this". I don't think you can fully understand it until you have your old 'good' work in your hands or up on that website you haven't had a chance to update in 5 years - so pretend I didn't say anything and enjoy it! And if you know this already: there's nothing you can do but your best at the time: be excited about the best that hasn't happened yet - its not a bad thing to get better. :)
And, truthfully, what is 'good' anyway?
Our own twisted idea that stems from getting better in the first place?
What do you think of the 'Gap'? Are you aware of it? In the midst of it?
Is this just hard for perfectionists to grasp?