A short story by Rob Croxford....
This week I got a rejection letter from an art exhibition. One that I almost depend on, to keep me in business! It upset me!
THERE. I ADMITTED IT!!
The thing is, it really shouldn't hurt at this point in my art career! I mean, I am a seasoned artist.....so this isn't the first time I've heard no......nor is it the second. Hell, over the past decade I 've gotten dozens and dozens of PROFESSIONAL rejections! (And a few personal rejections as well, mostly in bars, mostly in my youth...but I will save THAT humiliation for another day! 😜)
So if rejection is so common of an occurrence, why was I so dang upset?
For those of you non-artists, let me give you some context.
To participate in art exhibitions you must submit a package to be judged by a jury. (Again, in my youth, in a bar, I have also been judged on my package -- but I digress!)
SO....as a professional artist, you must plan your "submission season" MONTHS in advance. Sadly, you have very little control of which shows may accept you. As a result, many WORKING artists submit to many shows. It is a way to hedge your bets! Truthfully.....it's a real grind! Sometimes you only enter a show as a backup (because the exhibition that you really want - may reject you)!
It sounds an awful lot like dating!
So let's go with that analogy...
You're a single gal on the go! You have the opportunity to meet potential suitors....(Yes, I am married - and the last time I dated we used the word 'suitors' - WHAT OF IT!?) ANYWAYS, there is no guarantee that ANY potential guy will choose you. Even though they should - you're a catch! YOU HAVE IT ALL! YOU GO GIRRRL! Granted, some dudes are a little easier to attract! They maybe are a little less-than-perfect for you - but they are reliable - and perfectly comfortable! There are also some that will LOVE you one year, only to blindside you with a "it's not you, it's me" - the very next year! Finally, there are those that are "just not that into you" -- no matter how great your rack...I mean personality...is!
Well SUBMISSION SEASON is just like that!!!
As artists, we are told the jury process is meant to create a diverse group of artists to entice buyers to come to an art event. However, it can feel like the process is also meant to weed out the untalented or the unpopular. And if you are one of the UNCHOSEN,UNWANTED,AND UNLOVED how are you supposed to feel? A little HURT! (Okay - maybe that is the hurt talking again..)
ANYWAYS.....it sucks -- again -- kinda like dating sometimes!
(YES - I STILL REMEMBER DATING!)
For years, I had been keeping all my rejection letters in a file.
I called it the 'file of denial'.
It is a multi-layered title. In it, I kept denials (rejections) from arts organizations and galleries that have deemed my work "not their thing". But it was also my PERSONAL denial that my living depends upon other people's judgements!
Just this year - I shred the crap out of it. File folder and all.
I decided that I don't need to keep reminding myself of the negatives, when there are so MANY positives to remember.
I assumed that this meant that I was beyond being hurt by rejection. WWWWRRRRONNNGGG!!!
NOW.....just like with dating........I know I can't tie my sence of self worth to ANY one show. I keep telling myself that I am strong and powerful artist (and GOSH DARN IT - people like me)! I assure myself that I don't need no show to prove that I am worthy
(insert a series of powerful finger snaps here)!
BUT the fact is....that I kinda DO need acceptance to shows to make a living. And unfortunately, somewhere in my brain -- I guess I still crave the validation as an artist. I'm just a guy - standing in front of a jury - asking them to like me! Granted, the anger, hurt, sadness, sour-grapes and jealousy doesn't last long....but it happens. I CAN ADMIT IT!
But here's the thing. I would rather be passionate about my art and feel the pain of rejection, than be too jaded from years of submission season - to feel the hurt! AND I would rather feel hurt than be completely uninvested in ANY outcome!
So that is how I deal with it. Hurt leads to healing! It makes you stronger and smarter and more well rounded. RIGHT?!?!!?!?
Besides...Mr. Right Show could be just around the next corner! Or better yet - YOUR BEST SELF could be the reward!
So to my fellow rejects, I embrace you.
To those who got an acceptance letter, I toast you!
To those who rejected me, screw you.....I MEAN....thank you for the opportunity, and I hope to be reconsidered next year.
And remember fellow artists, just like dating - art is fickle, so brace yourself for whatever comes NEXT....Todays rejection could be tomorrows acceptance - and vice-versa! 😜
Onward and upward brave artists everywhere!
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Rob is a professional artist, lover of vintage stuff, part time smart @ss and compulsive pancake eater!