Quality Vs. Quantity

ceramics-1189489I was recently inspired by the following excerpt from the book, Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking:

The ceramics teacher announced he was dividing his class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right graded solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would weigh the work of the “quantity” group: 50 pounds of pots rated an A, 40 pounds a B, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an A.

Well, come grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity!

It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

What I got from this case study is that striving for quality is important, although it is through trial and error that we reach higher quality. We have to allow ourselves to fail. Producing quantity forces us to experiment, and this in turn leads us to improving and evolving our methodology. It really reflects the old saying, “Practice makes perfect.”

I’m not saying release a bunch of crap haphazardly, but experimenting a lot during the process of production gives you many ideas to potentially incorporate into the final result. It’s all about learning from our mistakes, and not being afraid of failure. It’s the tried and true method.

Let me know what you think in the comments.