How to handle Rejection as an Artist
As an artist (well, even a human), something that comes to my doorstep every so often is rejection. In nearly all disciplines, a human will have to face rejection at some point or another. The Western World is competitive, business oriented, and individualistic. It’s a culture that can envelope an artist in fears and worries instead of creation and presence. Before I decided to sell my work, I still had to face rejection. I would share work with family members or friends, and they might not really see what I was trying to paint or write. It was scary, but also brave for me to even share at all and I love sharing my creations and passions, which is why I decided to take the next step and start selling my work. Once I decided to develop a relationship with my artwork and poetry on a professional level, there were even more places for me to have to deal with rejection. And I have come to find that there are three main types of rejection that can be received.
1. Establishment Rejection – Submitting to a magazine for a feature, submitting proposals to galleries, submitting work representation at events, etc.
2. General Public Rejection – Whether Online or In Person, rejection takes the form of not enough validation from the general public. That could mean not enough likes on social media for your posts or people not buying your work or saying negative comments toward your work.
3. Yourself, Internal Rejection – Self Doubt, Artist Block, Serious Comparison with other Artists.
That is a lot of rejection. So how can we establish such negative energy and how can we make it more positive? To start, we must accept that rejection is merely a part of life and if we want to chase the life that we desire, we must find ways to build a relationship with rejection.
So How can we do that? Here are some ways that I have built a relationship with my dear old friend, rejection.
1.Rejection is My Friend. For me, I found that it is better to face rejection when looking at it as a friend. A confident. A Mom with seriously crazy levels of expectations. I could wallow and think that rejection is out to get me, or I could take the stance that rejection just wants what is best for me. If I have lofty standards for recognition with my art, why wouldn’t I have someone around me that has high levels of feedback? Take the situations that Rejection put you in and learn from them. Process your feelings about the rejection. Take a closer look at the type of rejection it is and ask yourself how you can educate, grow, and learn from the experience.
Ask Rejection these Questions:
- Did you bring the best qualities of your artwork to the party?
- Were you professional when reaching out to the opportunity?
- Did you put a sincere effort in this opportunity?
- What do you think failed about this situation?
- Did you rely too much on external factors?
- How can you do better?
2.Heal Thyself. React, Reflect, and then Rest on the situation. Channel all your creative energy into your process for healing. Don’t let something the outside world said or did put your flame out. Creative Energy is a potent healing energy and if you are an artist, you have felt a time or two where the fires of creativity have cauterized a wound you might carry. If you are truly crippled and devastated by rejection, reach out to your collective or community to find that support in your healing process.
3.Rejection is not equivalent to failure. If you are feeling down in the dumps, filled with self-doubt, or worried that maybe all this rejection is failure, I want to stop you now. Seeing rejection as failure is fear based. Look over your business plan as well as your creative plan and see if you do need to reassess or make changes to your strategy, but don’t for one second think you are failing. Being brave and courageous and taking a chance to get your work out there is a success on its own. Don’t let Fear get the last say. Keep going.
I won’t say that it isn’t tough to get rejection. I once had someone tell me that I should quit painting rainbows and just focus on being a mom. (may I add that that was super sexist, freaking rude, and judgmental!?) I was pissed. Devastated. My artistic lifestyle did not make me a worse mom, if anything it made me a better mom!
My point is, thank rejection for its purpose, but don’t rely on it. You are doing great. Keep going.
Did you feel inspired to face rejection? Are you on the same artistic journey? Share your thoughts down in the comments below or share with your friends. Follow me on Instagram @mel.bikowski