Simon Veksner: Are you a perfectionist?

2794910-3x2-940x627.jpgBy Simon Veksner, creative director, DDB Sydney

One of the most enduring stereotypes about the creative person is that we're perfectionists.

Screenwriters do endless drafts, poets agonise over finding exactly the right word, and Art Directors re-touch the shit out of their ads until they're perfect. READ ON...


True said:

Why worry about doing something properly? After all you, you don't really need that pesky account anyway, back to the foosball!

Subjectionist said:

Who decides what is perfect?

Old CD Guy said:

I'm torn. I'm from the era when perfectionism was encouraged, even mandated at certain good agencies. At one of these I worked with Arden; he was infuriating as much for his perfectionism as his vagueness, and his tendency to change his mind 180 degrees. He would love something in the afternoon, then hate it next morning. I, on the other hand liked to work quickly, smash an idea out and declare it a work of genius which needed to be presented urgently. Let an art director finesse the details (to my specifications, of course). No alternatives. Not for me the painstaking business of archeology;digging further after the initial rush in case there was a better idea to be found. Luckily this was also the policy of the best agencies I was fortunate enough to work for back when the Earth was still cooling. 'Take it or leave us'.was the unofficial motto of one. Although sometimes when forced to continue working for the purposes of persuading a recalcitrant client by producing 5 alternatives for focus-group research, occasionally a better, award-winning idea was extruded. Perhaps even my best and most famous! But then life is full of contradictions, isn't it?

Cam said:

Like most things in life, sometimes it's worthwhile, sometimes it's not.
Comes down to judgement.

Some writer said:

I remember an agency CEO saying, during a presentation on productivity to all staff, that clients don't pay for perfectionism.

If you're taking longer than an estimate to do the work just because your standards are higher than the client's, you'll either be (a) costing the agency money by using up time they can't charge for, or (b) slogging your guts out after hours to meet you're own standards, to the detriment of your health.

Neither is particularly beneficial.

On the other hand, the ECD of the same agency was fond of saying "awards are won after hours". Which is also true. So it seems there's a very strong business case against perfectionism, and a very strong creative case for perfectionism.

At that time I was working 60 hour weeks. So permission to not be a perfectionist was quite welcome. Perfectionism is a hard habit to kick. But the perfectionist in me wants to get as good as I can at not being one.

Think now craft later said:

The problem these days is everybody wants everything perfect, even the roughs.

In the old days, tissue sessions were exactly that. Two sentences describing an idea. We'll craft the line and the scripts later, thanks, just sign off on this first.

Now with the younger, less experienced CD's coming through everything has to be polished to the point of absurdity. Even the drafts.

G said:

@Some writer

your & you're.

Some writer said:


An entire article. A thread containing many insightful comments. What do you decide to add to the discussion? You decide to point out a single spelling error on a post bashed out in probably a minute and a half. No doubt as some wry comment on my purported perfectionism.

Clever you.

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