Thomas Faessler of Art in Context: “Stop living in the future”

Stop living in the future. Yes, that’s what you are doing. You are so fixated on planning for the future and doing everything right so that “tomorrow” is better that you forget to enjoy the present. Your present could be at stake and despite your efforts of worrying about worst-case scenarios and trying to be […]

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Stop living in the future. Yes, that’s what you are doing. You are so fixated on planning for the future and doing everything right so that “tomorrow” is better that you forget to enjoy the present. Your present could be at stake and despite your efforts of worrying about worst-case scenarios and trying to be precise, this present moment can have severe implications for the future if you don’t pay attention.


Many successful people are perfectionists. At the same time, they have the ability to say “Done is Better Than Perfect” and just complete and wrap up a project. What is the best way to overcome the stalling and procrastination that perfectionism causes? How does one overcome the fear of potential critique or the fear of not being successful? In this interview series, called How To Get Past Your Perfectionism And ‘Just Do It’, we are interviewing successful leaders who can share stories and lessons from their experience about “how to overcome the hesitation caused by perfectionism.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Thomas Faessler.

Thomas Faessler is the co-founder, art technician, and historian at Art in Context, a dominant website that helps in creating actionable posts, guides, and reviews about the world of Art. He has always been fascinated by the world of art and decided to pursue it full-time after his graduation. He is currently exploring digital art and hopes to create unique illustrations in the future.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Growing up, I was a playful kid and loved spending time outside the four corners of the house. But gradually, could see myself turning into a homebody as I entered school. It was a pretty carefree childhood and I had everything I could ask for. I was happy, cherished by my parents, and quite innocent. However, over the years, I started feeling that I wasn’t able to express myself enough. First of all, English wasn’t my first language, and no matter how much I tried to fit in, I felt disconnected from my roots. But, I did my best and that’s when I turned to Art (well, it was more sketching than Art back then) and reveled in the joy it brought me.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I absolutely love this quote by C.S. Lewis: You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending. It resonates with me in a way I see my fascination with Art. For instance, when I discovered that I connected with Art so much, it was pretty late in my career. I would oftentimes ponder on the thought of what if I knew earlier. But I did get over my regret and started afresh.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I read Quiet by Susan Cain a long time ago but I feel that it helped me understand myself a lot better. I am not much of a talker and I have always been socially awkward. But that book has helped me understand the intricacies behind it. Cain also had suggested several techniques and methods to cope with introversion and not let it define my life. I don’t see it as a bad thing as I used to. I used to be so angry about myself and was self-conscious about every action that I took but Quiet has proved to be an enlightening book that helped me learn more about myself.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

I have to mention Patience, Dedication, and Hardwork. I had to patiently wait for everything to fall into place and honestly, I was quite clueless as to what I wanted to do in life. So, discovering my passion took a lot of time. But it didn’t end there. Even after that, I had to dedicatedly strive to better each day because breaking into the Art Industry is quite tough and if you are not consistent with your creativity, you would fade away soon. Then, finally, the hardwork started. I started setting up the website quite late but I started with simple sketches and then gradually, shifted to complete canvas paintings.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Let’s begin with a definition of terms so that each of us and our readers are on the same page. What exactly is a perfectionist? Can you explain?

A perfectionist is someone who always finds fault in his/her/their work and thinks that it’s not good enough, no matter the effort they put in. And, it’s just not in work, it could in the smallest of things, like, maybe a cloth is folded wrong, perfectionists would want to correctly fold it and may even end up spending hours doing that.

The premise of this interview series is making the assumption that being a perfectionist is not a positive thing. But presumably, seeking perfection can’t be entirely bad. What are the positive aspects of being a perfectionist? Can you give a story or example to explain what you mean?

Yes, of course, being a perfectionist is not completely a bad thing. Perfectionists are extremely attentive to details which makes them excellent craftspeople. Their work is always polished and they tend to be highly efficient. They are good at balancing both their personal and professional lives and can do everything with precision. From sending emails to cleaning the last speck of dirt from the carpet! For example, as a perfectionist, I am precise about everything (most of the time) and always like to keep my house neat and tidy. This need for precision and detail also impacts my professional life as I am always careful with my emails, keeping records and organizing folders of all the work I have done, and of course, spending hours completing an Art piece.

What are the negative aspects of being a perfectionist? Can you give a story or example to explain what you mean?

One of the negative aspects of perfectionism that I have personally experienced is, it delays the work. Something which can be done in 10 minutes, would take me 40 minutes to complete because I don’t want to make any mistakes. Another negative aspect is, we are not too welcoming of changes. I feel so anxious when a task calls for a change or something that is unusual and is beyond my routine schedule or work methods. So, it takes me a long time to adapt to changes. For instance, when a client of mine suggested that I switch to digital art, I disregarded his thoughts completely because it was a method I wasn’t accustomed to and I feared that I would completely fail.

From your experience or perspective, what are some of the common reasons that cause a perfectionist to “get stuck” and not move forward? Can you explain?

I would say, being detail-oriented has its disadvantages. I tend to seek detail in all my work which is why it delays the overall work progress. It’s really an endless cycle. We see errors in everything and are never fully satisfied with any tasks. We end up finding too many faults in something which probably didn’t have any faults in the first place. We are always trying to “fix” rather than just letting it be.

Here is the central question of our discussion. What are the five things a perfectionist needs to know to get past their perfectionism and “just do it?” Please share a story or example for each.

Perfectionists need and face the reality that perfectionism partly results from fear. We set high standards and want everyone around us to be ambitious enough to reach those standards, including us, but we forget that it’s not doable at all times. We need to get over the fear of “what other people would think” and just do it.

Seeking perfection in everything only delays the work and decreases productivity. Therefore, it would take you longer to achieve the goals than a person who just does it while making several mistakes along the way. It could take you forever to get started while your competitors will move forward and you will be left behind. If it’s a new project that you want to start, do it, and don’t wait for the right time to arrive.

People need to know that perfectionism doesn’t need to define them. It’s rather a mindset that takes control of life and projects a reflection of what it is. Don’t let it control your life. Stop worrying about what could go wrong, and instead get to work and start doing it. Make mistakes but learn from them and do better in your next attempt.

Understand the difference between “trying to do better” and “obsessing over doing better”. Trying to improve is a great thing but when you start doing too much of it, that’s the problem. Don’t always try to “right” every “wrong” and give yourself a break. It is not humanely possible to do everything the “right” way when there truly is no right way or wrong way of doing things.

Stop living in the future. Yes, that’s what you are doing. You are so fixated on planning for the future and doing everything right so that “tomorrow” is better that you forget to enjoy the present. Your present could be at stake and despite your efforts of worrying about worst-case scenarios and trying to be precise, this present moment can have severe implications for the future if you don’t pay attention.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would love to see more cultural movements and possibly inspire one. But it has to be in some way related to Art. I would love to inspire a movement that seeks to connect the inner artists within ourselves. I am a believer that everyone is an artist, it is the creation that differs. Art doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to know how to draw and paint. You could be a computer engineer and creating art! Those coding skills are no joke! Everyone creates something in their lives and continues to do it. Hence, I believe that we need to celebrate the artists within ourselves.

Art has a lot of taboo associated with it. People often see us as someone who has nothing better to do in life, so, we waste time by splashing colors everywhere. I would like to see Art becoming more mainstream which comes with a lot of opportunities after completing a degree so that artists don’t have to live their lives working in other fields just to make money. I want artists to be recognized and wish to see them accepted in the community of other people and not be seen as some nomads who move around aimlessly because that’s not who we are.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

I would have loved to have lunch with Bob Ross. He has been an inspiration for me and I could say that I learned most of the artistic techniques by watching his tutorials. He was such a lovely soul and you could really feel his passion for painting. I would never forget how he used to say “this tree needs a friend” and then proceed to draw some more trees. Thanks to him, I now know how to draw trees better than ever!

How can our readers follow you online?

Readers can find me on our social media pages, Facebook and Twitter. They can also subscribe to artincontext.org for content related to art, history, painting, and drawing tutorials.

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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