Books

Great Things Take Time: On Failure and the Creative Process

Image from Things Are What You Make of Them by Adam J. Kurtz

Editor's Note:

Adam J. Kurtz is a graphic designer, artist, author and illustrator. His first book, 1 Page at a Time, has been translated into ten languages, and his work has been featured in ArtReport, Cool Hunting, Design Sponge, Huffington Post, Fast Company, Time Out New York, AdWeek, Paper, and elsewhere. Here is an excerpt from Kurtz’s latest book, Things Are What You Make of Them, which centers on what to do when you fail.

A lot of smart people talk about failure in the creative process and I want to be smart too, so here’s my take. Obviously this advice is entirely hypothetical, because I have never felt useless, crumpled up my paper halfway through a sentence, or been tempted to write a passive-aggressive email.

“Failing” as a badge of honor doesn’t make sense to me. There’s no need to polish this turd. Failing sucks. But failure can also bring so much to learn about ourselves, our work, and our presentation.

Success is about so much more than just talent or the merit of our ideas. Timing is everything. Connecting with the right person matters. So you take failure in stride, take whatever lesson from the experience you can, and do your best to not let the gut emotional reaction drag you down.

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Excerpted with permission from Things Are What You Make of Them by Adam J. Kurtz. © 2017 by Adam J. Kurtz. TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.