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3 Tips for Dealing with Art Show Rejection

“We regret to inform you ....”

While most of us make art just for fun, some are daring enough to submit for shows.
Have you sent in art only to be rejected?
Most professional artists and writers know the feeling.

Over the years I’ve deleted quite a few “We regret to inform you “ messages for both my art and academic papers.

Today in fact.

Just got word that my submission of a 160 page extra large Leda book filled with collages and sketches for the “All Stitched Up” sketchbook art show was rejected.

The email from the juror said the show had 189 entries and room for only 50. My work was one of the unlucky few.

As someone with art in 44 past shows (and a few academic publications) here are my three tips for dealing with rejection.

1. DETACH YOURSELF FROM SUCCESS.
Get a grip. Don’t take it personally. Rejection is part of the game.
It’s like golf, fishing or dating.

They don’t call golf “a-hole-in-one-every-timey.”

If you go fishing you don’t expect to catch a fish after every cast.
(But, when you do hit a hole in one or catch a nice fish, oh the thrill of victory.)

In advising a young man rejected by his love interest in the classic poem “Why so pale fond lover?” Sir John Suckling says: 

      Why so pale and wan fond lover?
      Prithee why so pale? 

      If of herself she will not love, 
      Nothing can make her;       
      The devil take her!

Relish deleting those pesky rejection emails like water off a duck.



2. CONSIDER IT A LEARNING EXPERIENCE.
The time and submission fees you spent to enter the show is building your experience level to perform better next time.

For example, for the “All Stitched Up” show I updated my artists resume, composed a description of the piece, took photos of the art, navigated the show submission app and even wrote a blog post about it.

This makes it all the easier for the next time. Best yet, I have an art piece all ready for a future show.

And chances are, more people will see the art on my blog than would have seen it at the gallery!

Trojan Horse after Dali and lyrics of "All along the watch tower" by Jimmy Hendrix.
A page in Post Modern Ancient Figures by GJ Gillespie.
See the REJECTED piece here. 

3. REJECTION IS A BADGE OF HONOR.
There is a long list of famous artists and writers rejected by publishers or galleries who went on to become astonishingly successful.

When Andy Warhol first showed his 32 soup can paintings in 1962 only one sold. Today each one is worth $10 million. 

Margaret Mitchell received 38 rejection letters for one of the greatest novels in history "Gone With the Wind".

As a new writer Steven King nailed his rejection letters to a wall until he had to replace the nail with a spike. Today King's net worth is $400 million.

As Joe Bunting at The Write Practice blog says:
“Rejection is a red badge of honor. It means you’re serious, you’re disciplined, and you won’t give up.”

Would you like to enter an art show? Go for it.
You can't catch a fish if your line isn't in the water. 

Check out Opportunities page at Artist Trust. 
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("Reject do not use" photo by Steve Snodgrass.
Resilent photo by Drop the Label movement)