I have a mantra that I have believed in all my working (non-photographic) life.... “Perfection is in the eye of the beholder”. Perfection, in my view is a myth, unobtainable; it is an idea we all see at different times and from different directions. If we focus our minds, energy, on this idea of perfection then it can become a steady source of negative emotions that will only spiral downward rather than reaching towards something positive. Once in this debilitating grip we are then focused on the very thing we most want to avoid- negative evaluation. There is a palpable sense of frustration when trying to create things and not quite being able to get it right, no matter how long we’ve worked at it.
Aiming for perfection is stifling. It can stop us from creating before we’ve even begun, or at any stage in the process, instead of giving us the freedom to try things. The fear of failure prevents fully engaging with a project and giving it the full engagement and effort that it deserves, which is the only way that risky or unorthodox things that we wouldn’t normally try can work. They require belief and passion, which are strangled by worrying about whether what we’re doing is going to be good enough or accepted. Creativity and innovation, the willingness to see something in our imagination and then try to create it in the world, are of paramount importance to the artist; perfection has no place in that world. It’s far better to try, and fail, and then to use the experience to grow as an artist and a person, then to never try in fear of the outcome being inadequate.
The truth, if we were honest with ourselves and with each other, is that we will never reach perfection. More than that, it shouldn’t ever have been a goal that any creative person was striving for. Perfection is unhelpful to the creative ideal, which is a celebration of subjective taste across the whole spectrum of what can be created, not just some arbitrary narrow band of creative expression that someone decided was “better”.
Of course, perfectionism doesn’t always seem so terrible, as it can be our motivation to create in the first place. But when that drive is accompanied by a fear that whatever we’ve carefully created and crafted isn’t good enough, then it’s time to recognize that in an effort to ensure everything is done flawlessly, we may actually be holding ourselves back. We need to accept that mistakes are of equal importance in our journey. Whenever we create we should accept that what we’ve done is still good, even if it's not the best thing we’ve ever accomplished, but that we should also use the experiences as a means of growing and becoming better. Analysing what we did and being honest about both what’s good, and what could use improvement. And there is always room for improvement, for every artist, regardless.
Strive towards improvement and knowledge in your art, but don’t let perfection be the goal post as it will just be the end of the road for your progression.
Your art deserves nothing more.