As an artist who works with galleries, and enters competitions on a very frequent basis, I have had my fair of triumph and failure.
Today I want to talk about the latter.
In the art world, rejection is much more common than acceptance.
To put it in perspective, last year I submitted my work to over 75 different solo exhibitions, group exhibitions and competitions, and of those 75+ submissions, I got accepted into a total of 11.
Realistically speaking, that is an incredibly good ratio. Some artists I know get accepted into one or two shows a year even though they submit their work for more opportunities than I do, and some get rejected from everything they submit to.
When you get accepted into a show, competition or publication of any sort, it’s always an exciting occasion, and it feels as if your work is being appreciated.
On the flip side of the coin, however, when your submission is rejected, it can make you feel that your work isn’t good enough. Sometimes to the point of it feeling completely worthless and that you will never get anywhere with your work.
It can also have that affect on your mind where you feel as if you aren’t good enough as a person, and they are rejecting YOU and not your work, especially if you put so much of yourself into your work.
That is all far from the truth, and just a trick of the mind.
All of these feelings are usually most prevalent near the beginning stages of submitting your work, although for some artists, those feelings can pop up every time they are rejected throughout their careers.
I found that as I submitted to and got rejected by more and more galleries, it kept getting easier to deal with, to the point that it barely affects me at all nowadays.
There are still some opportunities that I feel the negative sting from when my work gets rejected, but to be honest, that’s only been for about 2 or 3 opportunities over the last 18 months.
Some points to focus on to help deal with rejection include the following:
1. The judges, who could potentially be people who are well known or important in the photography or art community, have seen your work through the judging process, and as you submit to more competitions that they are judges of, they will begin to recognise your work just by looking at it, and this may lead to other opportunities or connections down the road.
2. The judges are potentially judging THOUSANDS of entries, and just like you, each judge has different tastes.
The judges may have loved your work, and it may have only just missed out by the smallest percentage due to the amount of high quality work that has been submitted.
3. Just because your work has been rejected from one, or even many opportunities, that doesn’t mean that it will be rejected from everything you submit it to.
Keep trying, and you might just find your work getting accepted into the shows that you least expect it to be selected for.
4. Rather than brood over the fact that you were rejected, occupy your mind by creating more art.
The more art you create, the more chance you have to improve and create something that will be selected for more opportunities
As they say, practice makes perfect…or at least as close to it as humanly possible.
Always try to remember that just because your work is rejected, that doesn’t mean that your work isn’t good, it just means that it’s not your time to be a part of that opportunity just yet.
Keep creating, keep submitting and you never know where your work may end up!