Overcoming Perfectionism: Tips for Artistic Creativity
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. What is Perfectionism?
  2. How Perfectionism Affects Artistic Creativity
  3. How to Identify Your Perfectionist Tendencies
  4. Tips to Overcome Perfectionism in Art
  5. Why Embracing Imperfection Boosts Creativity
  6. How to Create without Judgment
  7. How to Deal with Criticism and Rejection
  8. Why Practice Matters More than Perfect

Every artist has been there: staring at a blank canvas, brush in hand, ready to create, but held back by the fear of not being perfect. This is the realm of perfectionism, a place where creativity often goes to wilt. It's a tough place to be, but the good news is that we can overcome it. This blog is your roadmap to overcoming perfectionism in art, and unlocking the full potential of your creativity.

What is Perfectionism?

Perfectionism is a tricky beast. It's the voice in your head that tells you that your work isn't good enough, that you could do better, that you should do better. It's the relentless pursuit of flawlessness, the intolerance of any errors, and the constant self-evaluation. In essence, it's setting impossibly high standards for yourself and falling into a loop of stress and self-criticism when you don't meet them.

Here are some common traits of perfectionism:

  • High standards: Perfectionists set the bar incredibly high for themselves, often beyond their actual capabilities or what is realistically achievable.
  • Fear of failure: The idea of failing or making mistakes is a major source of anxiety for perfectionists. They avoid taking risks that could lead to failure.
  • Procrastination: Because the prospect of not producing perfect work is so daunting, perfectionists often delay starting tasks or projects.
  • Self-critical: Perfectionists are often overly self-critical, focusing on their shortcomings rather than their accomplishments.

Recognizing these traits in yourself is the first step in overcoming perfectionism in art. So, if you find yourself nodding along, don't worry—you're not alone, and this blog is here to help you navigate these choppy waters.

How Perfectionism Affects Artistic Creativity

When it comes to artistic creativity, perfectionism can be a real party pooper. Instead of celebrating your ideas and the joy of creating, perfectionism turns art into a task of meeting impossible standards. It's like trying to catch the horizon—no matter how far you go, it's always out of reach.

Let's break down how perfectionism stunts artistic creativity:

  • It stifles experimentation: Art is all about experimenting with ideas, techniques, and styles. However, the fear of not creating something perfect can keep you from trying new things. Remember that time you wanted to try oil paints but stuck to your trusty watercolors instead? That's perfectionism holding you back.
  • It breeds procrastination: The pressure to create something perfect can be so overwhelming that you might find yourself putting off your art projects. The blank canvas remains blank, and the ideas remain just ideas.
  • It creates stress and burnout: The constant self-criticism and pressure to be perfect can lead to stress, which can eventually result in burnout. This can make the process of creating art less enjoyable and more of a chore.
  • It hinders progress: When you're constantly aiming for perfection, you might miss out on opportunities to learn from your mistakes. Remember, every great artist was once a beginner who made lots of mistakes.

Here's the hard truth: Perfection in art is a myth. It's subjective and ever-changing. What's perfect to one person might not be to another. So, when you aim for perfection, you're essentially chasing a phantom. The key to overcoming perfectionism in art lies not in achieving perfection, but in embracing the process, the mistakes, and the progress.

How to Identify Your Perfectionist Tendencies

So, you've understood the impact of perfectionism on your art. Now, let's talk about how to pinpoint those perfectionist tendencies. Recognizing these habits is the first step towards overcoming perfectionism in art.

  • You're never satisfied: If you find yourself constantly unhappy with your work, even when others appreciate it, you might be dealing with perfectionism. Remember, "good" and "perfect" are not the same—strive for the former.
  • You avoid starting: Does the thought of starting a new project make you anxious? Do you fear you won't live up to your own expectations? If you're nodding in agreement, then it's a sign of perfectionism.
  • You're critical of others: Do you find yourself critiquing others' work harshly? Perfectionism isn't just about how you view your own work—it can also affect how you view others' creations.
  • You dwell on past mistakes: Making mistakes is a part of the creative process. But if you're stuck on a past blunder and can't move past it, you might be dealing with perfectionism.

These are just a few signs of perfectionist tendencies. The key is to acknowledge these habits without judgment. It's perfectly okay to want to improve, but it's important to remember that art is about expressing yourself, not achieving perfection. And the beauty of it is that overcoming perfectionism in art doesn't mean settling for less—it means creating more freely and authentically.

Tips to Overcome Perfectionism in Art

So, now that we've identified some of the perfectionist tendencies, let's dive into some effective tips for overcoming perfectionism in art:

  • Set realistic goals: You might want your next artwork to look like a Van Gogh masterpiece, but is that a realistic goal? Set achievable targets and celebrate small victories along the way.
  • Focus on progress, not perfection: Instead of obsessing over the final product, focus on the process. Enjoy the act of creating, and remember that every piece of art you make is a step forward in your artistic journey.
  • Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself. When you make a mistake, treat it as a learning opportunity, not a failure. Remember, no great artist became great without making a bunch of mistakes first.
  • Establish a routine: Make art a regular part of your life. Instead of waiting for inspiration to strike, set aside dedicated time each day to create. This can help you move past the pressure of creating the "perfect" piece.
  • Seek constructive feedback: Don't shy away from criticism. Instead, use it as a tool to improve. A fresh perspective can help you see your work in a new light and grow as an artist.

Overcoming perfectionism in art isn't about lowering your standards—it's about freeing yourself from the constraints of perfection. It's about embracing the joy of creating, making mistakes, and learning along the way. And remember, your worth as an artist is not defined by the "perfection" of your artwork, but by your courage to express yourself through it.

Why Embracing Imperfection Boosts Creativity

Now, you may be wondering, "Why would embracing imperfection boost my creativity?" Well, let's break it down.

When you're stuck in the mindset of perfectionism, you're essentially putting a limit on your creativity. You're not allowing yourself to experiment or take risks for fear of making a mistake. But here's the thing—creativity thrives on mistakes.

Think about a child with a box of crayons. They don't worry about coloring inside the lines. They're not concerned about picking the "right" colors. They simply create. And in their creation, there's a beautiful, raw authenticity that many of us lose as we grow older and become more self-conscious.

Embracing imperfection in art allows you to tap into that childlike freedom again. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities. You're free to experiment with different styles, mediums, and techniques. You're free to make mistakes and learn from them. And most importantly, you're free to express yourself honestly and authentically.

Remember, the most memorable pieces of art aren't those that are "perfect." They're the ones that are unique, that tell a story, that evoke emotion. That's the power of embracing imperfection—it allows you to create art that's truly your own.

How to Create without Judgment

Creating without judgment—sounds like a dream, doesn't it? The truth is, it's easier said than done. But don't worry, I've got some tips that might help you in overcoming perfectionism in art.

Firstly, remind yourself why you create. You didn’t start creating art to impress others, did you? You started because it's something you love, something that brings you joy. Keep that in mind, and let it guide you as you create.

Next, try to separate the act of creating from the end result. When you focus too much on the end product, you put unnecessary pressure on yourself. Instead, try to enjoy the process. Feel the brush in your hand, appreciate the colors blending on your canvas. Let art be an experience, not just a chore.

Lastly, remember that it's okay to make mistakes. In fact, it's more than okay—it's necessary. Mistakes are how we learn and grow as artists. So the next time you make a mistake, don't beat yourself up. Instead, see it as an opportunity to learn something new.

Overcoming perfectionism in art is not an overnight process, but with patience and practice, you can learn to create without judgment and embrace the joy of creating again.

How to Deal with Criticism and Rejection

Criticism and rejection—two words that can make any artist's heart sink. But they're also a part of the journey in overcoming perfectionism in art. So how do you deal with them?

Firstly, remember that criticism isn't always a bad thing. In fact, it can be a valuable tool for growth. The key is to differentiate between constructive criticism and plain negativity. Constructive criticism can help you see your work from a different perspective, and may even lead to improvements in your art. So, don't be too quick to dismiss it.

Rejection, on the other hand, can be a bit harder to swallow. But remember, rejection doesn't mean that your art isn't good or that you're not talented. Often, it's more about the preferences of the person rejecting your work than about your abilities as an artist. So, don't let rejection discourage you. Instead, use it as a motivation to continue creating and improving.

And most importantly, remember that your worth as an artist is not defined by other people's opinions. You create art because you love it, and that's what truly matters. So keep creating, keep improving, and keep overcoming perfectionism in art.

Why Practice Matters More than Perfect

Now, let's talk about why practice is more important than perfection when it comes to art. Yes, you heard it right. In the process of overcoming perfectionism in art, understanding the role of practice is essential.

Let's start by debunking the myth of "the perfect piece". The idea of creating the perfect piece of art is a myth. Artistic expression is subjective, and what one person perceives as perfect, another might not. So, striving for perfection can often lead to disappointment and frustration.

Instead, aim for progress. Focus on improving your skills, exploring new techniques, and finding your unique voice as an artist. Every piece of art you create is a stepping stone on your journey of artistic growth. So, don't get discouraged if your work isn't "perfect". Remember, every brush stroke, every sketch, every dab of color is a part of your journey.

Practice is the key to growth. The more you create, the more you learn, and the better you become. So don't let the fear of not being perfect hold you back. Embrace the process, enjoy the journey, and keep creating. Remember, the goal is progress, not perfection. Overcoming perfectionism in art is all about embracing the beauty of the journey.

If you enjoyed this blog post on overcoming perfectionism and want to further explore ways to enhance your artistic creativity, we highly recommend the workshop 'How To Deal: Cultivating Inspiration & Creativity' by Grace Miceli. In this workshop, you'll learn techniques and strategies to help you break free from the perfectionism trap and unleash your full creative potential.