Nobody Likes Perfect Art | Yang Liu
For a long time I struggled with creating any sort of artwork that went beyond just basic, average stuff...
In one art class a fellow student remarked to me how much she liked the style of my drawings, to which I replied it was “very messy;” but she enthusiastically insisted this was “STYLE!”
Then an art teacher told me that “nobody likes perfect art.”
Eventually I began to embrace this - my style. I started feeling more free to create and make lots of mistakes in the process.
I dabbled in watercolor, practiced pencil, and explored Chinese ink. Finally I came upon the paper arts - specifically botanical paper art - in my thirties.
This was an art form where adding imperfections was welcomed! Crumpling petals, puncturing holes into leaves to make them look bug bitten, adding freckles, asymmetry, decay... these are all done to make otherwise uniform paper look like reality.
One of my favorite techniques is to always have some form of asymmetry in my work. If you closely look at real leaves you will see that the left side does not match the right side. The same goes for petals and all sorts of things in the natural world.
If you observe the petals of the paper lily below, you will see that none of them are perfectly symmetrical - partly due to the fact that I cut and ruffled each side separately. Furthermore, I added patterns of random spots in different colors, while looking at reference photos of real lilies for inspiration. I try to make each petal have its own personality.
In arrangements, I like to have flowers facing all sort of different directions like they would if they were growing wild. Think about a group of people having various conversations with each other - they would not all be facing the same direction or be sitting at uniform distances from each other. You can see in the arrangement below that this is true. In addition, I’ve highlighted all the brown spots and bug bites throughout the leaves. While these may seem like small details, they really help add complexity and interest.
Try experimenting for yourself by either leaving a “mistake” in the final work or by adding imperfections intentionally. Allow yourself to explore and see where the journey takes you!
Let me know how it goes in the comments below!
This is a very inspirational article. I’ve struggled with perfection for most of my life. Not being perfect but not starting something because I needed the results to be perfect. Over the years, I’ve realized that perfection is the enemy of accomplishment. Has it made it easier to start? No, but it has made it easier to accept that I can’t be perfect in all of my endeavors. BTW, your work is really quite beautiful.