If you're an artist, you should know how to handle a rejection. Rejection can feel bad in the movement, but it’s not the end of the world, and there are ways to handle rejection as an artist and to be resilient in art businesses or grow in your career as an artist. There are times when you wonder why a gallery or a show rejected your artwork. You wonder if they didn't like your style, or maybe they already have someone who does similar work. Maybe they're full, or maybe they haven't had an opportunity to look at your artwork yet. Whatever the actual reason is, do not feel defeated. Instead, use it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and your work, create more art, and develop more resiliency!
5 ways to handle Rejection as an Artist
1. Accept that rejection is inevitable
The first thing you need to realize is that rejection is inevitable. It's a fact of life, and if you're not willing to accept it or deal with it then you will constantly live in fear, and never reach your full potential in art or any other area of life.
The best thing to do when receiving a rejection is to keep trying! Don't let this experience stop you from creating great art or, even worse, prevent you from continuing on with your dream career as an artist. You can use rejection as an opportunity to learn and create more art. And most importantly, keep trying! A rejection is not a statement about your worth as an artist. It's just one person's opinion.
2. Don't let yourself get sucked into an emotional reaction
It's easy to feel sad, angry, frustrated, and even confused when your work is turned down, but don't let yourself get sucked into an emotional reaction. Remember, it’s not personal. If you're feeling discouraged, keep reminding yourself that the jury process is subjective, and opinions can vary so much from one show to another and one juror to another. You can always apply again next year or try a different venue.
3. Don't doubt your worth because of one opinion
Your art is a representation of who you are and what you love. Because art-making can be so personal, rejection can feel like a personal rejection. Don’t doubt your worth as a person because your submission was rejected. Your personality, your skills, and abilities, your work ethic—these are things that make up the very being of who you are as an individual. Rejection can not take that away. Instead, evaluate your values and goals and pay attention to actionable steps you can take/ continue to take to help you reach your goals. You can start with a few questions: What do I want and what can I offer? How much money am I willing/able to invest at this moment? How will this opportunity help me grow as an artist? Will this opportunity align with my goals and vision/ or will it be a career growth opportunity? Remember, there are so many opportunities for pursuing your art career.
4. Own your hurt and disappointment
Learn from the experience and keep trying Own your hurt and disappointment. Whether you've been rejected for a show, or a gallery wasn’t interested in your artwork, it can feel like someone is saying "no" to you as an artist. That can hurt. The first step is acknowledging that what happened was painful. Allow yourself to grieve and recognize that it's okay if this rejection hurts. In other words “feel all the feelings.” At the same time, make sure that you don’t stay stuck in that place. (See point 2)
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5. Surround yourself with great people
Artist communities are a great way for artists of all levels to connect, learn from one another, and share their work. One of the great things about working in the arts is that you get to know a lot of other artists. You can find kindred spirits, share ideas, and build relationships that can last a lifetime.
That’s why it’s so important to have a community of artists who know the struggles and joys of being an artist. A great community can build you up when you are feeling down, give you direction when you are feeling lost or confused, and help hold you accountable for your goals. Surround yourself with artists from all walks of life, with various backgrounds and experiences to take advantage of a wide range of wisdom. There are a variety of artist's communities available from local artist friends groups to national and international membership communities. These communities are invaluable in an artist's career and personal growth. We are so grateful for our CGA community, our partners, and all those great local art organizations, that are so often the backbone of the arts.
How to be resilient in Art Businesses?
If your goal is to have a successful art business, you will have to learn how to handle a rejection and to be resilient. Resilience is the ability to recover from a setback. It's the quality of bouncing back after something bad happens. Learning how to cope with criticism and failure can help you avoid negative self-talk and manage stress, which in turn will make it easier for you to run your business and stay focused on your goals.
To be successful, you must be resilient. Here are six ways to become more resilient in your art businesses:
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Resiliency is a necessary skill to develop. It will keep you going when the going get’s tough. Resilience after rejection is a requirement of being an artist. Don't let a rejection stop you from creating great art or even worse, prevent you from continuing on with your dream career as an artist. Keep going and keep growing.
Rejection will always be a part of the experience of being an artist, so don’t try to avoid rejection, instead work toward being able to better handle rejection and continue to grow your career. Don’t give up! You’ve got this!