We often find ourselves admiring the incredible. Some things have an element of magic that makes them fascinating. Many will pause for a moment, in wonder or respect, and then continue on their way. But there are some of us who look a bit deeper. We notice the attention to detail and we recognize the care that has gone into a piece and we analyze it. What is that element of magic? What makes this thing so appreciable? We want to know how the author made such incredible greatness.
When we’re unable to decipher the distinguishing attributes that set apart the extraordinary from the mundane, we are tempted to dismiss them as simply the by-product of a unique gift the creator possesses—perhaps by some stroke of luck or genetic fortune. They have something we do not, and that’s the end of that. This places the unexplained into a convenient box that satisfies most.
But some of us are not so content. Some of us have an intensely fierce drive; an insatiable zeal for the earnest pursuit of greatness. We aspire to produce work of equal caliber to the things we find fascinate us. We are determined to solve the puzzle, and we want to discover the secret.
How was such remarkable work produced, we wonder. It’s as if there is, in the possession of the creator, the hand of midas with which they can merely touch a material to create brilliance.
The artist knows the true secret. He knows that for every exceptional work seen, there are a thousand failures unseen. Look to his desk to see stacks, upon mounds, upon heaps of sketches, iterations, concepts, and various prototypes. Those who are known as the makers of excellence know that it never starts with the intent to make something extraordinary. It starts with pencil to paper. It starts with execution. It starts with creating. It starts with doing.
This poster was made to serve as a reminder. Work isn’t going to do itself. It needs to be done, and you need to do it. The concept is simple, but there are no shortcuts. The goal is to create and don’t stop creating. It doesn’t matter if you fail, because those failures bring you one step closer to success. The recognition of a failure is part of the progress.
If you set out from the start to create something amazing, it’s probably not going to happen. There’s a little detail in the poster design I want you to see. Notice the arrows indicating the movement of the gears. See anything interesting? They’re actually grinding against eachother. When we look for the hacks and try to find secrets for the immediate production of excellence, there can be no progress.
Only from consistent elbow grease do we see successful results. Don’t grind your gears. Apply yourself, put forth the effort, and exert your creative energies. From these collective efforts you will curate greatness. Out of the many iterations, you will select from the heap the ones with promise and hone them into something remarkable. What others see as magic you will know to be your uncompromising and unwavering dedication. It is all made possible by effort. Do Work.