The perfectionism trap: how to break free and thrive as an artist

4 min readMay 9


The wish for everything to be correct or perfect, that’s what perfectionism means. Sure, being a perfectionist may lead you to good places, but it mostly acts as a barrier to creativity, and it can also interfere with moving forward to a successful art career. If you are an artist struggling with perfectionism and finding value in what you do, there are ways to overcome it and reach your full potential.

In this article, we will share practical tips to help artists overcome perfectionism, find their unique artistic voice, and create with confidence.

The art of Letting go: how to release attachment to your art and find joy in the process.

Understanding the downsides of being a perfectionist

Not a single artist did their best work the first time they saw a white canvas.

Would Wanderer above the Sea of Fog or Les Amants exist today if Caspar David Friedrich or Rene Magritte had stopped trying?

If you are always pursuing perfection, you will never be fulfilled with what you do, and sometimes this frustration and fear of acting can lead to self-criticism, creativity blocks, burnout, and even the desire to quit a project. You probably already know that it can be hard to be creative when you struggle with self-doubt, anxiety, and fear of failure, but it’s key to recognize the moment when you are too focused on perfection.

Focusing only on perfectionism threatens your self-esteem, and unachievable goals frustrate the creative process and lead you to believe that your creations are never good enough. Waiting for something perfect will lead you to just that: waiting. This is how you procrastinate and make excuses for not starting: “I don’t have enough materials“, “I want to learn how to draw but I don’t know where to start”, and so on.

Mistakes and failures are opportunities to learn and grow as an artist.

Identifying the root causes of your perfectionism habits

Breaking out of the perfectionism loop can be difficult if you don’t take a pause and briefly introspect. Some perfectionist tendencies you might recognize are:

-Focusing on the end result rather than the process.

-Working non-stop without taking a break.

-Always going to familiar places, staying in your comfort zone.

-Having so many ideas that won’t allow you to focus.

-Having more “work in progress” than ready-to-sell pieces.

-Comparing yourself to colleagues.

These signs of perfectionism shouldn’t take the focus away from what really matters, which is to be able to overcome obstacles and move forward without blockages or frustrations. In addition, we refer to acting against these perfectionist behaviors if they occur on a daily and recurring basis, which is when they become a disturbance.

Practical tips for beating artistic perfectionism

There is no unique formula to stop being a perfectionist, it is rather a matter of shifting the mindset and moving forward with small daily practices.

You can try unlocking your creativity with guides to help you do it, lowering your expectations and demands a little bit, or even trying to keep track of your ideas in a daily journal. Perhaps it’s a matter of experimenting with different mediums; where you don’t feel comfortable is where you’ll forgive yourself the most.

Step away from the easel, take some time off to think, and reflect on how to make yourself known as an artist. Understanding what you do, who you want to reach and the value of your work will put you on the right track.

Building a supportive artistic community can help artists overcome perfectionism.

Building a supportive artistic community

Look for inspiration in fellow artists, then you can shed the self-critical approach and feel surrounded by thousands of colleagues who have probably gone through the same challenging perfectionist thoughts.

It’s key to surround yourself with like-minded colleagues who understand the challenges of being an artist. With a solid network, you can swap feedback with people who are on your page. You can also be part of ongoing conversations on Facebook groups, or even attend events or webinars that gather artists with the same goal: to improve.

Don’t hesitate to reach out through Instagram to those who inspire you; partnering with others is a powerful way to help you achieve your goals.

It requires a mindset shift to become friends with imperfection.

Recognizing the benefits of imperfection in art

Rome was not built overnight, and neither is it going to be the case for your artistic career.

Instead of focusing on perfection, aim to achieve excellence. Excellence is all about consistent practice and learning from mistakes.

Embracing your mistakes as opportunities for growth is essential in developing your skills as an artist. Now that you know how to deal with perfectionism, it’s time to get hands-on!
Show your followers how your artwork looks at a real scale or host an online show that takes them on a tour of your latest work.

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