Rejection - is it personal?

Everyone has experienced rejection at some point in their lives. It might be in their personal life, in a relationship, with work, at home, regardless, it is a negative experience. It normally causes upset or sadness, frustration and confusion. People dealt a dose of rejection can expect to hear their nearest and dearest tell them to 'look for silver linings' or not to 'let it get you down' etc, all of which are pretty unhelpful and go no way towards actually improving or changing the situation. What you really need in the wake of some rejection is FEEDBACK.

As an artist, you get rejected A LOT. It’s something you have to get used to pretty quickly and sort out some thicker skin for as it happens all the time. I've had no college art school training, no lecturers to pull my work to shreds and critique it to bits so when the first rejections came, they hit me. Hard. Did I take it personally? Hell yeah! Phrase it any way you like, its basically someone saying, "That thing you made? I do not like it”. Artists already hate most of their work and every now and again they hate a piece slightly less than their other pieces and have a semi-pride in it, so for someone to say they don't like it, can be devastating. Creating is a personal thing. You actually do put a bit of yourself and your emotion into the work so, how can it not be personal? 


Soon, you start to hear other people say, "That thing you made? I like it!" and you remember that there are actually lots of people in the world and everyone likes different things. If you take a moment to think of all the things you see on a daily basis, you don't love ALL of them, you will dislike some things and those things have been at one point, someone's work.  Its only natural that we don't all like the same things. I guess if you are an artist who produces work that you want to produce regardless of sales, critiques won't matter as much. If you are an artist who is creating work to sell, critiques are very important to you as they guide the majority and help you target your work a bit more. And lets be honest, there are not many artists in the world that are making art not to sell. Artists are trying to make a living as much as anyone.

Getting feedback after a rejection can really help change the way you respond to rejection. You can't change it into a positive experience but you can learn and improve from it and that is always a good thing. Sometimes it wont be anything you can change and then you just need to accept that some people like beef and other people like chicken. But if someone is able to guide you towards an improvement, a refinement or even a preference using their own knowledge of the customer, this cannot be a bad thing. Ask for feedback when you can, it doesn't have to be in a  "Can I have some feedback" robot voice, work on phrasing it to get what you need. "I see you went with the 'giant blue' work, is there any reason you chose that over the 'large red' work? It could just be because the person wanted blue rather than red, but it could also come to other things surrounding the piece - essentially you won't know unless you ask.

And so I will still inwardly huff when I don't quite make the cut for an exhibition or gallery or someone choses another artist's work over mine but I know that there are people out there who do like what I do and support me and that it’s not just my mum buying my work.........I hope.....