Rejections are Good

Posted by Francesca Gagliano on Thursday, October 8, 2015
For much of my life, whenever I would receive a poor letter grade in school, an "I'm sorry but...No" letter from a college or university and now whenever I receive a polite declining letter from any publication, contest or entry/submission to somewhere it would make me feel like disappearing, giving up and questioning my life's purpose. It is easy to fall toward drama, especially as a sensitive artist but what I have discovered as a 30-year-old young mother and artist is that rejections are fantastic for building strength, resiliency and character. Not only does rejection help hone these attributes, it also has the potential to refine motivation and create inspiration in making new art. 

Being realistic, it helps to have an acceptance, a YES, here and there. But I have found that even volunteering your time in arts organizations and donating your artwork to charitable causes feels like a big YES because you are able to engage in art activities, be surrounded by other artists and art enthusiasts and if you donate your work you are able to see it exhibited!  Recently I have read some articles and blogs with messages telling artists not to donate their work--or to think strongly about not doing it--because the charities and the art-goers who purchase the art are the ones who make out whereas the artist does not. These writers have claimed that though the artist gets some exposure...the gallery or institution never paid them or their work much attention before, so why should an artist bother to give their valuable work to them now? Especially when he/she cannot even write it off for taxes? Another common note I noticed was not to donate and put it on an Artist Resume because serious art collectors, galleries and museums would not be interested in an artist who gives his/her work away.

While reading these articles I began to feel a creeping pull in my chest, the dreaded anxiety. Should I not be donating my work? What will 'important' arts people think of my resume if I list these charitable art donations? 

Before reading these articles I never once questioned donating my work. It made me feel good all over. It made me feel good to see my work on a wall, it made me feel good to watch it sell (even if it wasn't for much) and it made me feel good that the money was going to a good cause and it made me feel good to know that it would be hanging in someone else's home (or elsewhere) for them to enjoy instead of the piece piling up in my basement with my other work. There were a lot of "and it made me feel goods" written above. So the anxiety that was produced by reading blogs and articles about whether or not an artist should or shouldn't donate to a cause made me realize that I needed to disregard those articles and make my own decisions based on what was best for me. 

I don't want to completely knock these writings. There are great points listed and they do mention that if an artist feels very passionately about a cause then by all means they should donate. It still stands though that there isn't money or recognition to be had. 

Make art for yourself. Do what brings you joy. I was in a show recently where I received one compliment. Who knows how many people said things I didn't hear or liked my piece. But one person out of however many decided to reach out to me to tell me how the piece affected her. The piece did not sell but I felt like God's angels surrounded me with wreaths of flowers and mountains of fresh air when this woman told me that my piece made her feel magic. No one will feel magic if you don't show your piece. So if you continue to receive rejections, donate!

And to get back to rejection. It still stings a bit whenever you receive a "No" or an apology of sorts. "There was stiff competition," etc. Change your thinking to see a solution instead of a problem. See someone else's light and chance to be in that light rather than you. There are so many artists in this world trying to show their work. If art is done purely for purpose of expression rather than for financial gain or competition, it will move someone. 

I write this because I just received two NOs back-to-back. I received a No from a credible and competitive writing magazine and from a local show. But the local show asked me if i'd still be interested in showing a piece--even though I hadn't won and the polite decline of the writing magazine sent me on a journey to find other writing magazines that I hadn't yet heard of or read. There is a place for your work. I promise! It might be someone's blog, a small-free local art show or some charity.....but there is a way to turn rejection into acceptance. 

Go and create and continue to do so. And should no one else read this, then I'll re-read it to myself when that time rolls around. Because I will continue to receive rejections.

Tags: art  painting  writing  publishing  published  accepted  acceptances  acceptance  art journal  art publication  contest  contests  art world  gallery  show 

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