I recently received this question on the Artpromotivate Facebook page:
How can artists not “feel miserable when [their] Art work is not appreciated, when [they] are still a beginner”?
All artists deal with rejection at some point. Rejection often is a frequent occurrence at the early part of an artist’s career and can be very discouraging for young artists, who often take it personally.
But, remember – rejection is something that all artists go through. Van Gogh, Monet, El Greco, Vermeer, Cezanne and countless other artists have experienced rejections from the art community – but pressed on, and used it as a catalyst to grow and nurture their art.
This post has some advice for dealing with criticisms of art: How to Give and Receive Feedback and Constructive Criticism
Here are some points to consider… which will hopefully help you to handle the inevitable rejections.
Rejection can be a good thing.
When constructive criticism is given, artists can use this information to become a better artist – and to make better art.
“If your work is rejected because your technique is lagging your creativity, consider it a learning opportunity. If your work is rejected because it is not mainstream for the market, consider it a compliment to your originality and continue to look for an opportunity complimentary to your style of work.” Peter Filzmaier
Look at rejection as a challenge.
Don’t let it get you down, but take each rejection as an opportunity to grow, learn more and try something different next time.
“I have won museum commissions among many others from competitions and also lost many I dearly wanted. I used to take it very personally until someone pointed out that it was not nessicarily a rejection of your art so much as a choice for a different style or subject matter that fit their needs better. How true. I also was ashamed if I was a finalist but not the winner. A friend mentioned that he always put those competitions on his résumé because he considered it a great honor to have been a finalist! That changed my perspective.”
Purple Flowers © Ion Vincent Danu/ Dan Iordache
Find your audience through rejection – and acceptance.
Through continuous rejections (and through a process of elimination), we can learn where to focus our efforts. Focus on the places and people who accept what you do.
You can’t please everyone!
If people are not appreciating what you put out there, all it means is that you aren’t reaching the right people. We are all different, and everyone has their own taste in art. If you are really serious about your work – don’t change it for anyone.
“The world is full of different people with unique taste and many like different things, as the old saying says one mans trash is another mans treasure. But when your an artist you have to be true to your vision and you need to communicate it through your art. You can't please all the people but you must please yourself, and if your passionate about your vision and stay true to it you will find a following that loves your art. Its much like my preacher says, its better to be a really good version of who you really are than a bad version of what others want you to be.” Dave Marsh
Winter Thaw © Sophie Penstone - “Early morning across the rolling hills in Cornwall, just as the morning frost was disappearing”
Don’t take rejection personal.
Maybe you are looking to get your work in a particular art gallery, but they won’t accept you. Or maybe you have entered various art competitions with no success. It’s easy to take it personal, and even feel discouraged – thinking there may be something wrong with you.
It has nothing to do with you! All it means is that the particular artwork does not suit the taste of the gallery/ art competition judge. They may very well like other artworks by you.
”Remember it's not personal. It's all about the work. I recently heard a writer speak about having submitted a manuscript to several large publishers only to be refused. She then sought a small publisher with a niche market, and voila! She is now in high demand, but has remained with the original publisher because they value her work, not the dollars she brings in. You have to be confident in your work. Think how many greats were not until their death!”
'On the Rocks' © Alyson Sheldrake - acrylic on board, size 34cm x 49cm
“A local scene of a fisherman fishing off the rocks at the end of the slipway. You often see fishermen here - but I'm not sure if they ever catch anything!”
Accept the rejection – and move on!
One of the worse things we can do is dwell on it. It will stunt our artistic growth, making it difficult to focus on other artworks. Accept the rejection for what it is – a chance to try harder, become a better artist or shift promotional focus elsewhere, then move on.
Do you have any rejection experiences to share? How have you dealt with rejection and negative comments about your work?