We’ve all been there: chugging caffeine into the wee hours of the morning, feeling spazzed out by every. single. fucking. detail on a project, basically seeing no end in sight. Whenever we, as artists, get stuck in an infinite feedback loop of doubt and second-guessing, the work sits in a state of disarray; half-baked and on its way to greatness, but only if we could finish the damn thing.
Steve Jobs famously said; “Real artists ship”. He was referring to the fact that everyone has ideas, but real artists deliver on them or ship them, as he put it.
So, what is an artist to do when they feel stuck and can’t bring an idea to completion?
This is for all artists. No matter what stage of your career. If you’re in a creative rut, feel slow to produce, or just overthink too much. This is for you.
Try this perspective: View your work like a conversation.
If you talk to yourself all day, you’ll not only go crazy (and look crazy), you only have ONE perspective. Your conversation won’t mature and shape into something else if your only soundboard is you. It’s the equivalent of you screaming into a mirror with positive self-affirmations, hoping they’ll stick.
But imagine if on the contrary, you worked on something for too long trying to perfect it. You will probably end up spending 3-5 times longer than you should have. By the time you showcase it in a commercial setting or to your client, the end viewer may be confused by the intent of the artwork or “design”.
When all you really had to do was share a concept (release 1), see what people, co-workers, followers etc. thought, and iterate your next art piece according to what you’ve felt you learned (iteration 1).
The point is to begin with a thought and talk it out with someone other than yourself.
How To Avoid The Infinite Feedback Loop
Don’t work on some pieces for TOO LONG. Chances are, the details you’re paying attention to, nobody else is, detail for detail. Viewers mainly stay engaged if they can quickly grasp and understand the intent, and they’ll digest the idea as a whole.
Not based on all the things you’re debating in your head: Layout, Composition, Contrast, Balance, Color, Negative Spacing, etc. As long as you cover the basics and create an easy-to-understand work piece, you may see your decision making increase exponentially, as well as outside viewers starting to witness your progression.
All that creative thinking should be followed by creative doing.
Benefits Of Producing, Not Perfecting
- Decision making. Knowing what the intent is, as well as designing something easily digestible for viewers.
- More work. Quicker turnaround times for your work and feedback leads to more work in the pipeline.
- More experience. Since you’ll be executing more purposeful work, it becomes second nature for you, You become turnkey. Just don’t forget to experiment!
Drawback of Getting Stuck On Perfection
- Not finishing. You’ll keep tweaking project until years go by. Then you dust it off, and feel embarrassed by it. Always finish.
- Not maturing. If you don’t see how others react to your work, you won’t get insights. This is free knowledge directed at your work! Take it and utilize accordingly.
- Emotionally unstable. I’ve worked with many amazing artists who have suffer from all these points. And they tend to get defensive over their work. Remember, the focus should always be the intent, purpose, and the end user with commercial design! Not how you feel. (;
Where To Go From Here
Revisit old/recent work that is unfinished. Save for web… Share it. Get it out in the world and move on! Don’t overthink the missing details. The end user won’t know what’s missing unless you tell them anyways. Think like a real artist, be like a real artist. Ship your work out and iterate.