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Janet Chui

Perfect is the Enemy

posted by marrael 2011-11-20 19:02:50

Pfshaw, has it really been 10 days since my last blog post? I am shamefaced. A lot has been going on, and I suspect that many other artists as well have been taking advantage of this time of year where Christmas shopping (or, Christmas selling) is the top priority of independent shops and artists. What a handy excuse! And handy blog topic.


The title of the post may come from advice you may have heard before, commonly "Don't let perfect become the enemy of the good". Or: "Perfect is the enemy of the good," which, I am again ashamed to find out, originated from Voltaire, who wrote one of my favourite books ever, Candide. (That guy? Genius.)

Perfectionism, it has taken me a long time to figure out, really is a flaw. Here are the excuses I used to run through in my head, to avoid selling my work (and, some of them I'm still using): My portfolio isn't good enough yet. I haven't got my prints of this picture just right, I can't offer them for sale! There's a stray dot on this picture that's bugging me. My web site isn't ready. I don't have photos, or good enough photos, of this product. I don't have a story or description of Shakespearean standards to accompany this product. 

"Not good enough" is an excuse that rears its head constantly, and it's just a delaying tactic. It's used to deliberately place an obstacle between oneself and the Test--Will it sell? Do people want it? Will people pay for it? Deciding not to sell ("yet") yields the same financial result as not having people buy it, but the former lets us keep our ego, while the latter brings on a whole host of disappointments and questions ("WHY?") and may necessitate us working harder to sell, when all we want to do is create art. It's really understandable. But also counter-productive. 

Any job--every job--has bits of it we don't enjoy quite as much as other bits of it. Selling isn't as much fun to me as creating, but until the day I can afford a marketing department, it's a necessity, and perfectionism (useful as it can sometimes be in art-making) shouldn't come into it if it stops me posting services or items for sale. Good enough is good enough. All I need to do to convince myself of this is to visit Regretsy from time to time, and see some truly weird and questionable products that are offered for sale (in various places, not just etsy), accompanied with photos taken in the semi-darkness, and descriptions written in ALL CAPS or wth hillarious spelling errows [sic].

Of course it may be disappointing to spend time crafting an auction, or an etsy posting, or Craigslist posting, or a new product, and get no responses, so start with creating or listing items and services that take the least effort. Those may yield something! And then work up to those that take more investment (time, money, or materials-wise). 

Happy selling!

Recommended links: IttyBiz Confessional: What if I'm not awesome enough?

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