By Rick Rotante
Rejection will always be a part of the art world. If one wants to succeed, one needs acquire a thick skin. When you look to history, you find countless stories where artists; many who now hang in most prestigious museums and private collections, were at one time rejected; many other artists never find success in their lifetimes. This is a recurring litany; a grueling assignment to ask of any artist and the harshest of roads to travel. I understand not all would-be artists are meant to reach meteoric heights; some may indeed rightly be rejected for a multitude of reasons. If you believe in yourself and know that having the life of an artist is for you, see rejection as a badge of honor. You are in the company of many others who have overcome rejection and rose to show their work to the world.
To succeed you must see rejection not as a hindrance but as an asset. See rejection in the same way you see your failures with the work you produce. Overcoming those who seek to thwart us as well as coming to grips with disappointment in ourselves is all part and parcel on the road to becoming an artist. An artist holds a mirror up to a society that often isn’t ready to accept the image reflected back.
The best way to handle rejection is to embrace it; make it your own. Paint in public. Nothing eradicates fear of rejection faster than having others peering over your shoulder while you work. Donate your talent; offer to paint at any opportunity. Believing in your ability and your self-worth will engender stability and make believers of skeptics around you.
Rejection from art shows and galleries doesn’t amount to a hill of beans and should fortify you against future rejection. Remember you won’t be able to satisfy everyone. You only have to satisfy yourself. To be realistic, your work may be rejected for reasons other than its quality. We can’t control these things beyond our ability. Look at it this way, if every work you offered up for exhibit was accepted without rejection, you would begin to seriously doubt yourself anyway.
It isn’t always possible to make a work that is spot on every time. There will be those who believe your work isn’t up to their standard. Set your own standard. Raise the bar every time you produce a work. You are the only person who knows what you are creating. Work so others appreciate your talent. Many have as many doubts as you over their own work.
If you can’t overcome rejection you will need to look into yourself and discover a way to overcome it. Every artist has been rejection one or another. Keep you focus on the positive things around you. Celebrate your successes. You might also consider the enjoyment of creating for yourself for a while. Take time. There is no shame in this. Consider the many who suffered rejection before you.