rounding corners

Typos, malapropisms, and spilled drinks notwithstanding, creatives are – each in our own way – perfectionists. This just makes us ordinarily human, I reckon. After all, the pursuit of quality is a common human endeavor – an airtight moon base, a better relationship with Dad, a more comfortable sitting position – and perfection is just the ever-elusive end of that journey. But we perhaps wrestle more rounds than most with the unattainability of perfection because it’s actually in our job descriptions, after the part about turtlenecks.


Beyond serving clients’ goals and our souls, we have a practical responsibility to resolve the feud between perfection and timeliness. They’re a-fussin’ and a-fightin’, you know. Perfection, the impossible pinnacle of quality, requires ages to get nowhere near. And, well, time will have none of it – distorting our predefinition of perfection the moment quality begins to build. So, given the expectations of budget and schedule, we’re required to plot aspirations on a spectrum from “What can be done” to “what can be Done”.
To the perfectionist, this is known as “cutting corners”.
Now, these considerations threaten the very foundation of aspiration, and thus ignite regular conflagrations at bigwidesky’s world headquarters (where more than one cold pancake has been hurled in disagreement). Yep, in the feud between perfection and timeliness, we’ve got family on both sides. But for my part, I’ve come to appreciate timeliness as a qualitative metric – and almost a sneak-attack on perfection. In my estimation, even in the (noble and foolhardy and obsessive) pursuit of supreme quality, the deepest pitfall is the lure of perfection’s swiftly receding shadow.
This probably makes me some sort of sell-out knucklehead, but the only feasible approach to perfection, as I feel it, is to compartmentalize aspiration in consideration of budget and schedule. And with humble respect for quality, to not cut corners – but artfully, deliberately, and perfectly round them.

3 thoughts on “rounding corners

  1. Time ain’t the only enemy of vision. There’s pragmatism, politics, hubris, cupidity, and idiocy (to name a few.) For my part, I intend fight all of them wherever they arise and lose gracefully when necessary.

  2. So there was this monk one time, centuries ago, who said, “Lord, I know I do not always please you, but I believe that the fact that I try to please you, pleases you.” A bit of a mouthful, but worth considering, eh? I personally continue to noodle with projects well into the deadline’s territory UNTIL I start to make the thing worse. Once I do that, which almost always happens, I hit the revert button and burn the disc. I’m not necessarily thrilled with it, but at least I know I’m seeking something that exists only on some ideal plane rather than saying “okay, this works.” Nothing worse than stopping on THAT line…
    There’s something to be said for never finding total resolution/satisfaction with your work; while it can be draining, the alternative is just saying “good enough,” and that equates into living a life of fraudulence and compromise. Such an easy route. I’ll take discomfort over being a fake.
    Just sent something out today. It’s good, once its completed I’m sure it’ll look fantastic…but there are probably 17 different things I’d like to adjust a bit more. *sigh*
    To Eliot’s point, I was lucky–no politics or morons involved in this one. The first in a long, long, long time. Like three years long time.

  3. Shonuff, Brad, there’s something zentastic to pacifying one’s inner perfectionist with the pursuit of perfection. And as far as business is concerned, to do so tends to make both agency and client a far better buck. This all speaks to the merit of simple, elegant solutions, right?
    Anyway, a birdie once whispered to me: “quality is respected; quality on cue is valued.”
    Except it wasn’t a birdie, it was a hobo.
    And he actually said: “trombone whistlenuts parade the Indian chief!”

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