Dealing with Rejection

Episode 253 · May 27th, 2023 · 36 mins 3 secs

About this Episode

It’s never easy putting your work in front of others to be judged and scrutinized, but if you don’t it’s very hard to gain a wider audience or grow as an artist. Submitting work to galleries, grant panels, juried shows, and competitions tends to become a routine part of what artists do. But for every time you’re chosen for an opportunity, there are many more times when you are rejected or simply ignored. And despite the thick skins many of us develop, rejection is never easy. Today we’ll talk about coping with rejection and try to gain some perspective on its inevitability

Accepting rejection as part of the process of your development is important. We all try many things as artists that don't work out for us, whether that is a new medium, a project, or a technique. Yet we learn to carry on with the next idea with a positive attitude. Rather than taking rejection as a personal affront, it's helpful to look at it in a similar objective way, as just another attempt that didn't turn out as you hoped.

But although it is basically good advice to shrug off rejection this is also a simplistic approach, because most people have emotional or personality characteristics that get in the way. These include perfectionism, insecurity, inflexibility, a sense of entitlement or being prone to having unrealistic expectations. It helps to try and separate your own personal issues from the reality of how the art world operates. Although there are certainly times when an artist's work is rejected based on a lack of quality or originality, many times this decision has more to do with the goals of the gallery, juried show, venue, or residency program which may or may not be apparent.

How you experience rejection tends to change over a long art career. In the beginning, you probably apply for more opportunities, and hence receive more rejections. When you are more established you are probably more selective about where you submit. After all, your needs change, and every application requires focus, time, and sometimes cost. In deciding where to place your resources, consider your true goals and how an acceptance would contribute to your growth as an artist. It is never wise to apply out of a sense of competition or regard an acceptance as a "win" or to prove yourself. With this attitude, it is easy to see rejection as invalidating your work and can undermine your confidence.

There is a danger in letting rejection affect you too much, in becoming discouraged, or allowing it to affect your self-image as an artist. Knowing how common it is for artists at every stage to be rejected may help, as does insight into the way art venues operate and to understand that your work may simply not align with whoever is deciding the outcome wants. In the end, it's up to you to push forward according to your own goals, despite rejections.

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What's new At Cold Wax Academy?
Rebecca and Jerry launched their spring quarter on April 12th. Sessions this quarter so far included identifying compositional issues in your work, and technical information from Gamblin representative Mary Tevlin. Upcoming sessions include a painting clinic for works in progress, and much more. As always, members can join in on live sessions with questions and comments, and can benefit anytime by interacting with other members on our Members-only facebook page. With 100 recorded sessions in the member library there is always something to learn or review, with topics ranging from technical advice to visual language to guests speakers and critiques of member work.

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