I had a lot of ideas for what type of article I wanted to write for Project Quality, but they all seemed to be too specific and random. So I decided to go simple and straight to the point, what do I think makes quality work?
Here are three things:
This is huge for me. I believe it's extremely important to have intention in your artwork. You do this by addressing what it is you want to accomplish in your work and analyze how it is you can go about doing that.
For example, I want to help people experience the feeling that there is more to life right under the surface. After I figured out what I wanted to do I analyzed what things make me feel that way. Dreams, some music, even specific as certain color combinations.
Contextualized, but Unique and Authentic Artistic Voice
I am super for developing and uncovering your unique artistic voice, but I also think the greatest of the great artists were also at least initially very influenced by other artists.
Not only is it impossible to be completely unique, I also do not believe it's completely true that you are absolutely unique. Yes, no one is exactly like you, but many people are like you, many people have similar experiences, tastes and thoughts.
For me taking influence from other artists past and present is essential to connecting to others. I love the band Animal Collective because they are so original, but really because I connect to them. I couldn't connect to them if it weren't for the ways they were similar to other bands that I love and know. Then again I wouldn't love them if they didn't bring their own uniqueness to their sound either.
Be unique, but don't try to be so unique that you don't make sense to anyone.
Somewhere someplace someone said you need to do something for 10,000 hours before you are considered a master of your craft (It was actually Malcolm Gladwell and he furthers this idea in his book, The Outliers: The Story of Success. )
I don't know if that is true or not but I know one thing for sure: the best of the best, the most quality work, is the product of people who have created huge quantities of work.
In the words of Ira Glass, the host of the radio show This American Life:
"…the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work…it is the only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap and your work will be as good as your ambitions"