3 min read

Quality versus quantity & knowing when it’s time to slow down

A new Maui-inspired pattern collection and exploring the value of focusing on quantity over quality.
Quality versus quantity & knowing when it’s time to slow down

Happy Sunday!

This week I’m sharing progress on a new pattern collection, as well as a lesson that popped up for me while I was working on it. Enjoy!

A new Maui-inspired pattern collection

This week I started on a new collection of patterns. I’ve been wanting to make some art inspired by my trip to Maui a few weeks ago. I sat down and came up with a bunch of different ideas I wanted to explore and decided to start with a simple-ish hibiscus flower pattern.

I haven’t gotten very far with it. I sketched out several different flowers and started to ink them. I have a few more that I’ll finish later today, but here’s a little sneak peek at what I have so far—

I’ve gone back to my roots of detailed line work and I’ve been loving the process so far.

That said, my expectation was that I’d be able to finish 2-3 entire patterns this week, and I didn’t even come close to that. Which brings me to a big lesson and shift I’m sensing in my creative practice right now.

Quality vs. quantity — which is really better?

Perhaps you’ve heard this story already, but I’ll share it briefly anyway.

There was a film photography professor at the University of Florida who divided his students into two groups. One group was told they’d be graded on the quantity of photos they they produced. They just needed to produce 100 photos to get an A. The other group was told they’d be graded on the quality of their photos. They could submit as many or as little as they wanted, but they needed to aim for excellence.

Which group ultimately produced the highest quality photos? It was said to be the the first group, the one that focused on quantity over quality.

Anyone who hears this anecdote takes it to mean that focusing on quantity is ultimately the way to go. By producing a large volume of work, you’ll inevitably improve.

I think this advice is great for the beginner. For the individual who is paralyzed by the fear of sucking, focusing on quantity gets them to do the most important thing—taking action.

But as you move from novice to intermediate and beyond, this advice can be taken to an unhelpful extreme. Now that I’ve created a lot of patterns, I found myself falling into this trap.

I was so focused on producing a huge volume of work, that I wasn’t taking the time to assess what I had created and challenging myself to improve. From my experience, once I reach a certain level of competency, it requires time, patience, and intention to level up.

So while one part of my brain wanted to beat myself up for taking so damn long with drawing the motifs for a single pattern, another part of me knows that this is a part of my growth as an artist. I focused on quantity initially to get the basics down. Now it’s time for me to slow down a bit and push myself to create something excellent. Creating a large volume of work is just a pre-requisite to understanding what excellence really looks like.

I hope that resonates with you somewhat and you can apply it to a skill you’re currently mastering!

That’s all I have for you. Be on the look out for some more progress on this pattern next week, and as always you can check out my shop if you’d like to get your hands on my existing work.

Have a great week!

♥ Rachel