Picture it....it was 11 years ago, I was showing my work on a cool, rainy Saturday in September at Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto. Despite the nasty weather, there were a number of people out buying art! I had only done a handful of outdoor shows at that point, so I was pretty nervous about whether people would like my work - or just walk right by!
WHAAAT??? Self doubt from an artist??? It can't be!!! ;-p
Then a man came up and started to talk to me about this painting:
The gentlemen had a lot of questions. A LOT. It was great to have someone who was SO interested in my work! The interaction went on for quite some time, before he decided to buy it. In hind-sight, there was something very soothing and vaguely familiar about his voice....but when you're in the middle of hocking your art, it is hard to think of anything but the sale!
Anyways, I take his credit card, and then ask him for ID.
The man looks at me, there is a really awkward pause, and the man raises an eyebrow....as if to say "REALLY??". I went on to apologize, and tell him that there had be a rash of fakesters taking advantage of poor artists. (Which was true! Because people can be awful!) Truthfully, he looked a little perturbed, but then who wouldn't? There is something off-putting about having your identity and legitimacy questioned!
So I finish the transaction, hand him back his card and his ID, all the time feeling 'strange' but not understanding why. I then wrap up his original art, and he walks away...into the sunset.
Within a couple of seconds, the artist in the neighbouring tent comes over. "Wow, Rob! That's great!" she says to me. I reply cavalierly "Ya, nice to have someone enjoy the work!"....You know...NO BIG DEAL....and she replies "Especially a Canadian celebrity!". I stood there, confused, looking at her like SHE was insane. She continued "You know who that was, right?" I looked down at the sales receipt in my hand...
(YES - it was a paper receipt - that is how we did it back then!)
I looked up at her and said "It was Stuart McLean."
There is is long pause in conversation where this artist was looking at me, waiting for me to clue in. It seemed like an eternity - although I am sure it was only seconds...until I said...
"OH FUCK! It was Stuart McLean! CBC Stuart McLean! Vinyl Cafe Stuart McLean!! FUUUUCK! I KNEW I KNEW THAT VOICE!!!!"
The other artist gave me a sympathetic look, and said "Don't worry, I am sure he didn't realize that you didn't know him." And I nodded...."Ya. Probably not!" and walked away!
Except of course he knew. DUHHH. It really could not have gone WORSE!
It was a great lesson to me. I tried in the years since, to be more attentive to people's body language, and also to try to stay out of my own head when chatting with clients!
ADMITTEDLY though, the sale really gave me a boost of confidence. I mean, if someone clever like Stuart McLean liked my art enough to buy it, it MUST be good! At that time, it really helped to reassure me.
(YES I KNOW my therapist would have a lot to say about seeking validation from others.....get off my back ;-)
I went on to put his name on my CV as a badge of honour.
I feel truly blessed for the confidence boost I got that cold wet weekend over a decade ago, from a CBC legend! He never knew how much it helped!
Normally I'm not one to post about celebrity deaths, but this time I needed to. Yesterday Mr Stuart McLean passed on. It is sad for his family, and also sad for all Canadians....period. We lost a great storyteller!
If you don't know anything about him...(SHAME ON YOU...you should look up his many albums and CBC podcasts on iTunes.....you will not regret it!
He will be missed!
Well, it's submission season. YOU KNOW how I love it.
Recently I got a rejection letter for a project that was VERY important to me. It was a concept that I was THRILLED with, that I think was PERFECT for the event that rejected me. What makes it worse is that it was for a project that is very close to my heart, so it has cut a little deeper than most of my jury rejections.
About a year ago I wrote a blog post about the feelings I have when rejected to art shows or juried proposals.
It was very honest, very hopeful....and kinda funny too:
GO AHEAD - READ IT....just don't tell me if thought it was NOT funny!!
ANYWAYS.....I just re-read it, in hopes that it would help me sort through my feelings....which is when I realized that rejection from shows is the great illustration of the 'cycle of acceptance'....and I wanted to share this with you all......
Okay, for illustration purposes (and so I don't bad mouth an organization that I think is actually really SPECTACULAR) let me set up a fake rejection scenario...
I applied to the Smarty Pants Academy Art Show for Clever and Talented Artists. This year's theme was "Bowties and how to Wear Them"! SADLY, I just received my NO THANK YOU from S.P.A.A.S.
(For the sake of this post let's pronounce that SPAAZ -- you know.....like rhyming with 'HAS'!)
At first, I am SHOCKED!!!
I cannot believe that I didn't get into this show. I mean, how could there be a MORE suitable candidate? Is there a bigger SPAAZ than me??? I AM TRUELY SPAAZ MATERIAL!!!!! My concept was great, and I have been doing this for ages.......AAAAND I have more bowties than almost anyone I know! They must not have looked carefully enough at my application! Could it just be an oversight??
STAGE 2 (ANGER): You know what?? That's not fair! I work hard. I had a good idea.....I am mad! I deserve better! I AM A GOOD ARTIST!!!!!
(cut to an hour later.....)
STAGE 2.5 (AGGRESSION): FUCK THEM! Ya....I said it. They are stupid! I hope every artist they DID pick gets chlamydia! No.....I hope the whole academy is swallowed up by the earth.....in a fiery blaze......etc.....
UGH....and now the barista SPELLED MY NAME WRONG??? STUPID IDIOT!!! HOW DARE YOU??? DO I NOT WARRANT EVEN THAT MUCH?? JSUT CORRECT NAME SPELLING??? IT IS NOT BOB!!!!!!!!! I SHOULD THROW THIS SCALDING HOT COFFEE IN YOUR FACE.....YOU HORRIBLE HUMAN!!!!!
(You know....like normal...not murder-y.....NORMAL ANGER...kind thoughts....not overblown....not irrational....just normal! :)
Then.....a little later.....
Stage 5(DEPRESSION): This is a great one....it starts with the feeling that you should stay in bed....not shave.....throw out all your bowties....giev up art...join a convent......you know....as you do...
Then turns to something like this:
Yup.....the full Tammy Faye......and it lasts a while. It's hopeless after all! NO ONE CAN HELP! I should just give up....and then there is this.....
...where I try to eat myself into contentment.......thankfully I don't normally have a full box of mini chocolate bars around the house.......or it might become this:
......nothing like liquor to solve the problem, to fill the hole that anger has left.......lots and lots of booze to dull your feelings....
The Depression stage usually is the most unpleasant....and the most detrimental to actual work production......and to relationships too!! (SORRY EVERYONE!!!!) :-)
I find that this stage lasts longer than the next...
STAGE 6 (BARGAINING): in this one, I just start thinking...geez....maybe a miracle is not gonna happen?? Maybe if I can get out of the misery-guts phase, and perhaps take a shower, I can be more effective to find more solutions....YES...I CAN JUST NEGOTIATE AWAY THE PAIN!!!!! EASY!!!!
Well.....at this point I have exhausted all my feelings, I have tried rewriting my proposal - and rethinking it and re-planning it - and then letting my rejection shame me everyday! Then I try crafting my bowties (and some hot glue) into a wreath - a wreath of happiness.....but really....it doesn't do much.
Truthfully, THIS is when the good stuff happens.
I take down the proposal that I have stapled to the wall with a sign that says "You're a failure, AGAIN, Rob!" and I put it away.
You know, maybe I will circle back sometime....
THAT....is the last stage....Stage 7 is ACCEPTANCE!!!!
I mean, it could have been worse. I think I can use this experience at some other time....I can perhaps re-use the concept? But if I don't .....I don't!
I am gonna be okay! GOSH DARN IT!
...and that is how the stages of acceptance work - they work in your life too!
SO....what's my point with this long and selfie-heavy blog post????
The point is, to share, to let you know that when you feel sad or mad or depressed....you are not alone. I think I hit the nail on the head with my other post....
(SURE YOU READ IT?? I PUT A LINK ABOVE.....BUT HERE IT IS AGAIN!)
...even if I am MAD right now....it will pass....as will that ENTIRE quart of candy cane and chocolate ice cream that I just ate!!!
Here is what I said last year.....
"...here's the thing. I would rather be passionate about my art and feel the pain of rejection, than be too jaded - to feel hurt! AND I would rather feel hurt than be completely uninvested in ANY outcome!
.....Hurt leads to healing! It makes you stronger and smarter and more well rounded.
....BLAH BLAH BLAH.....
.......(something great) 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 recently 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.
.....so brace yourself for whatever comes NEXT....Todays rejection could be tomorrows acceptance - and vice-versa! 😜
Onward and upward brave artists everywhere!"
There you have it. Straight from brave last-year-Rob.
He seems smart! Let's listen to him!!!!!
ONWARD and UPWARD!!!
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Rob is a professional artist, lover of vintage stuff, part time smart @ss and compulsive pancake eater!