The Myth of Perfection

I am a perfectionist. That’s not something I’m proud to admit; it’s led to a lot of schoolwork never being turned in and a LOT of music never being made. I always feel like I can never make anything exactly the way I want it to be; whether it’s a part of an essay that sounds wrong, or a part of a mix that never sounds right, I just never felt that I was capable of making something that’s perfect to me. There’s an important part of that last sentence to remember: to me.

In the creative field, it’s a huge honor for an artist to have anything they make be called perfect, but what exactly makes something perfect? The dictionary describes the word “perfect” as something that cannot be improved, something that is without flaws. This is the only thing that can be considered a fact about what makes something perfect; now in the world of art, there is no one true answer. Just like there are no two people who are exactly alike on planet Earth, no two people have the same opinions on what makes something perfect. There are people who genuinely think that the Beatles were a mediocre band, that Jimi Hendrix was an overrated guitarist, or that the worst bands you’ve ever heard are absolute geniuses, but that doesn’t make their opinion any more true than your own. It’s all subjective, but what’s more, it’s a crutch, and a very dangerous one at that, but that’s a whole other subject entirely (you have to make something people consider perfect first before you can begin resting on your laurels).

As an audio engineer, I like to have the songs I mix sound as good as I can possibly make them before I release them, but as an audio engineer, I am also constantly improving my work, so what can I do? How can I make anything that’s perfect? The best answer I’ve found is simple: Stop worrying about it! Because no matter how much you love or hate your work, no one’s going to think it’s perfect if they never know that it exists. To me, the allure of art is the fact that there’s no limit to what you can learn, there’s always a way to improve, even when you can’t think of a way, so just strive to improve, and let everyone else worry about whether it’s perfect or not.

-Drew Nelson, LMG Intern