Creativity Vs. Perfectionism

The relationship between creativity and perfectionism is complex.  Is it good? Is it bad? Or maybe it’s not as black and white as that.  This interesting article reveals the true nature of this intricate balance.

Productive creativity requires a sense of discipline. Discipline requires a set of restrictions that keep us from drowning in the details. Without restrictions, we would spend all of our time and money on aspects of our work that are not requested (and likely not even noticed) by our clients and audiences. Sure, these details may be important to you, but it is likely the emotional side of you that loves your own work. Restrictions help us keep perspective and keep food on the table! When embarking on any creative project (especially those that you love), strive to set the following restrictions:

  • Milestones:

    What specifically do you hope to achieve, and by when?

  • Deadlines:

    When will you be “done?” At what date will you send the project along to someone else (client, partner, etc.) for feedback?

  • Budget:

    What limits will you impose around your creative project? Remember that many of the most productive creative professionals claim that budgets are a positive force in the creative process.

  • Reduced Scope:

    Rather than taking on all types of projects, start specializing and declining unrelated projects. When you stray too far from your expertise, you end up paying for it in unexpected ways.

On the topic of restricting perfectionist tendencies, Eric Karjaluoto, lead creative at smashLAB, shared insights on this own struggles in a recent Behance interview. “It all came down to asking ourselves where we were willing to bend. We weren’t willing to compromise the quality of our work, nor were we comfortable losing money on projects. Finally we chose to limit our offering. After years of being a small, full-service studio, we picked what we were best at and are now concentrating solely on that…”

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