We Aren’t Perfect(ionists)

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Perfectionism has increasingly been held up as a virtuous ideal. However, it is an ideal based on a system with waste and over consumption at its root.

The Problem With Perfectionism

The idea of perfectionism is at its heart noble. Wanting the best quality, the finest finish, flawlessness, everything exactly right with no variation. This state is possible to achieve in a highly automated system, if all human inputs are minimal and done correctly.

As soon as a human hand enters the process, then there will be variance and a “perfect” result will be unachievable.

This leads to perfectionism’s greatest problem. Chasing a perfect result from an imperfect system of production will produce wastage. Trawling through thousands of finished pieces of work, nit-picking tiny details leads to the second problem — wasted time.

The 80/20 precept states that 80% of results come from 20% of the effort expended. Therefore, expending more than 20% of your time and energy on something will not yield significant further gains.

As a designer I fell into the trap of perfectionism. Tiny details begin to matter which can lead you down a rabbit hole.

The truth being the majority of people consuming design and print work are not going to notice the tiny, niche details that another professional may or may not notice.

Working With Care

Our policy at CardCouture is to do our work with the utmost care and reverence to the materials that we use. Ultimately paper has come from trees and we view trees a little differently from the mainstream — that they’re conscious beings, that feel pain and have as much right to life as humans. We feel deeply that it is fundamentally wrong to view trees as a “resource” to satisfy our every whim.

Each piece of paper, has not only come from a tree ultimately being sacrificed, but when you look deeper at the piece of paper, it is full of everything there is and ever has been. When we see a piece of paper we also see the whole of the universe in it. The machine that fell the tree, had to be designed and made. To design a machine, a computer had to be designed and made, an engineer had to go through college, a factory built, by builders who had to learn their skill, the components of the factory also had to be designed and made, and so on.

Breaking down and expanding every part of a piece of paper’s journey makes you realise just how precious and miraculous each piece is.

With this mindset your relationship with the paper changes. You see yourself as part of an interconnected web that led to its being and therefore to make a mistake is a dire waste of all that has been.

This is why when we do the jobs we do, we take great care in setting up the machines we use, we save as much waste as we can to use in the process of setting up. We also don’t nit-pick any tiny blemishes in the finished work. When a piece of work is hand finished like our boxes, there is a variation, because we’re human. This slight variation adds a great deal of character to boxes and although marginally noticeable en-masse, when a box goes out to an individual they will only see something as a standalone piece.

It’s simply better to work slower, with care and attention and treat the materials being transformed as the precious things that they are. Ultimately gifts that are eons in the making, with the whole of all that has and all that will be, within them.