The Artist Dilemma – Perfections vs Excellence
Artists can easily get caught up in what I call perfection vs excellence. Their nature is to seek perfection.
Whatever kind of artist, a cook, painter, writer, craftsman, they have one thing in common – they are seeking their expression to be perfect. In the quest to make something perfect, there can be procrastination, avoidance, issues of self-esteem, and even destruction. I’ve seen many creative ventures get shelved, postponed, and even abandoned because the creator couldn’t get it perfect. That is one difference between the mind of a scientist and artist, scientists expect failures and those failures take them down paths to further discovery. Artists want something perfect and when they can’t get it perfect, they can get stuck and often quit.
Here’s a definition of perfection I found in the dictionary: 1 – the state or quality of being or becoming perfect, 2 – the highest degree of proficiency, skill, or excellence, as in some art, 3 – a perfect embodiment or example of something, 4 – a quality, trait, or feature of the highest degree of excellence, 5 – the highest or most nearly perfect degree of a quality or trait, 6 – the act or fact of perfecting. Notice how the definition in the dictionary uses the word art as an example of being perfect. It also uses excellence as part of its definition.
Here’s a definition of excellence from the same dictionary: 1 – the fact or state of excelling, 2 – an excellent quality or feature, 3 – excellency. If you go to a thesaurus and look up excellence – one of the synonyms will be perfect, if you look up perfection, one of the synonyms will be excellence. So yes, they are related and there can be a fine line between the two. The trick is not to let perfection consume you to the point of defeat.
I recently had a conversation with a producer of a new play in theater. I saw the production, it was an excellent production. Was it perfect? Depends, that’s an opinion ultimately. It could use some tweaking and cutting, yes. I recommended the producer should take it to New York and put it up in front of some theaters and investors. I even knew a producer that I know personally that likes that kind of theater. I offered to make an introduction. The producer wanted to work on it more. Now, keep in mind, he already had a successful run in a workshop production, it received great reviews. Could it be better? Yes of course, art is a process. He is back in the writing room rewriting. The dilemma is, it might be excellent, yes, when will it be perfect? The truth is probably never, it will always strive for perfection. That is the dilemma, when is something excellent enough to go to the next step? That is an individual decision. One each artist needs to make with the help of a supportive community of professionals that they trust. Good luck, I wish you the best with your creative endeavors. Keep improving your excellence in your pursuit towards perfection.