Creative People & Perfectionism

I’m not sure about you, but I’ve met enough creative people that have the same traits as I do. When we are out in public, we like to observe our surroundings, we like to listen to what conversations are happening, the atmosphere, etc. We like to analyze and break things apart and that could be a piece of art, furniture, a conversation, even a relationship and person. I’ve come to a realization that I have those exact traits. Ever since I was young, I knew that I was a creative person. I knew that I had a relationship with art. I fell in love with the freedom to make anything come to life. I fell in love with the artwork that was used in movies, anime, and cartoons – and I still do. When I decided to study graphic design, I never knew how stressed out it would make me. I started to knit pick at everything I saw wrong, especially when I made something and it wasn’t coming out the way I imagined. As a student, I was still learning ( I still am) so I tried not being so hard on myself because I was starting to feel like I was a perfectionist.

Work & Freelancing

After I graduated, I started freelancing. I did work for people who I knew took advantage of me but as a new designer and entering the world, I was desperate to make money and I knew that this was just the first steps of working on my own. There was a moment when I decided to stop freelancing and it was because I started becoming very frustrated with the rules I made for myself. I tried pleasing too many people and I was becoming a worse perfectionist than I ever was. I wasn’t able to produce a single piece of artwork without either starting over and over critiquing myself, pointing out everything that I thought was wrong. That logo isn’t right. This color is too bright. Is that line crooked or is it just me?  I found that I needed a team. I knew that I enjoyed working with people and to be honest, hearing feedback from others that had the same passion as I did would help me. I eventually started to work for a small company as a digital designer and realized that I was still the same way. Everything needs to be perfect. My work is going to be public – the whole world will see. I need to fix this one thing. When I decided to turn to my manager, she gave me lots of good critiques. Her words gave me another perspective on my work and I found that really helpful. Heck, I even asked people who weren’t creative for feedback and they even said a few things that surprised me! Things will stay the same if you don’t try new things. After working at my job for a year, I’ve really enjoyed working in a group. I know that even though perfectionism is a trait that most of us creative people will always hold, it doesn’t control us. Having people around us tell us other things besides what our brain tells us is actually very life saving.

Nothing is Perfect. It’s Your Brain.

annoying type.jpg

I found out that regardless of the situation, I will forever be a perfectionist, which isn’t a bad thing as long as it doesn’t come between my work…too much. I will continue to over analyze everything and my eyes will go straight to the one area that I don’t like in my artwork. I’ve come to tell myself that it really is just the word “perfect” because “perfect” doesn’t exist. What exists is our brain that tells us things need to be perfect. Since this involves our brains so much, I find that this could lead to stress, stress and overstress to sometimes panic, especially if something you created is going live or being put up publicly. Our brain continuously tells us that that thing is very noticeable and you need to fix it or change the color, change it’s position. There’s too much white space happening, when really you just have to accept and move on.

How Should I Tackle my Next Project?

I consider myself still very new to the design world, especially in this time and age, everything has become electronic and art can now be created through technology. I’ve come across a blog by “GREIG,” a graphic designer himself who talks about his struggles of a graphic designer.

In his blog post, he suggests a few steps to take when you are up against a new project or artwork. GREIG agrees that we take our work to others. This advice might be something very obvious, but surprisingly, not a lot of creative thinkers resort to this. We try to figure everything out ourselves and when it comes to artwork, we get a little hesitant to show others because it’s not completely finished yet, Okay, so this isn’t done, don’t judge but this is what I have. I promise the color doesn’t look like this on the monitor! But i’d like some feedback. I know the logo is totally ugly, but give me some time!  Get the help you need, get feedback from other people whether that is posting on social media or showing it in person, you can even go as far as showing it to your previous design school professor! Some other ways suggested by GREIG is accepting that the first initial step of a design does NOT have to be perfect, in other words that is why they are called rough mockups. You have to understand that sometimes your client doesn’t like perfect. What you may think looks perfect, may not be perfect in someone else’s eyes.  Accept that these traits are natural when it comes to a designer or any creative person. Next time when you are about to start your next art project, whether it is a poster, drawing, or website, make sure you step back, create a rough mockup and ask for advice from people around you. You never know, someone’s feedback could spark another idea for you.


One thought on “Creative People & Perfectionism

  1. I feel a very similar artistic spark as you describe in your opening paragraph, but instead of visual art, I am drawn to literature, poetry, movies any type of reading or information. I am a writer and I can definitely relate to the feeling of artistic perfectionism that you have gone through. I always wished I could draw or play an instrument, but I always struggled with those sides of the artistic spectrum. Writing, reading and telling stories has always been my passion.

    Now that I am at the point where I am ready to try to get my work published, I self-edit so much that I get to that point where I almost want to give up because I need to have professional work if I want to get noticed. It is very daunting, but because I am on the writing track in my Techcomm degree I have had my writing critiqued by peers and teachers a lot, and it has helped me recognize the things I need to work on as a writer. As you said at the end of your article: “You never know, someone’s feedback could spark another idea for you.” I can totally relate because getting writing help if it is editing or a simple opinion might help me overcome a problem with the work and spark new ideas. And when I know someone will be critiquing it seems the pressure to impress makes me want to pull out all the stops.

    Great post! Your blog and link really are food for thought. I think it is great to raise awareness over ways to get over the struggles of being an artist or creative individual because an unhealthy creative life can lead to depression and addiction, but when you handle it the way you describe in your blog great things can unfold if the artist can break from the need to do it all alone.

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