As creative people, we like our work to be seen by others; whether it be by family and friends or by a bigger community of people. Not only do we have a need to create but we also have a need to share our creative work. We all approach this in different ways. Some of us choose to enter competitions and exhibits. Putting your work out there to be judged for a chance to have it seen by several people, takes a special kind of courage.
Furthermore, waiting for the response letter to the judging/jurying process is a totally nerve-wracking experience. The longer the wait, the more nerve-wracking it is. Then finally you check your email and there it is – the moment of truth!! What do you do if the response is not what you wanted? Sometimes, rejection smarts real bad. ( Ask me how I know 🙂 ). So how do you accept rejection?
You Can Accept Rejection With Grace
As hard as it is to accept rejection, you can still do it. You can even do it with a dose of grace and here’s how. The best way to accept rejection is to ask pragmatic questions, not emotional questions. Ask questions that you can take action on – questions that you can affect their answers. Here are 5 questions you can start with to help you accept rejection.
5 Questions which Empower You to Accept Rejection
- How well did I meet all the submission criteria (it could be size restriction, photo quality, acceptable medium, or theme)?
- Did I submit my best work (you know better than anyone else, the quality of your work. Ask yourself if you put your best foot forward or were you saving your best for a different entry)
- Is my work comparable to the quality of work that was accepted (you might have submitted your best work but your best may not be up to par with other submissions? Look out for the entries which were accepted. How does yours compare? If it’s not up to par, then you’ve got to keep working to improve.
- Does the show accept my genre of work? Some exhibitions accept only abstracts or portraits or landscapes. Acquaint yourself with the type of work they accept, ideally before you submit an entry. If your work doesn’t fit into their style, just move on. If it does, well it’s a matter of personal judgment.
- Finally, ask yourself, what can I do with this piece of work now, that I couldn’t have done if it’d been accepted in the show? You’ll be surprised that when you turn the question around this way, some very fulfilling opportunities will become obvious.
You’ll notice that all five questions give you actionable things to do. By the time you’re through with this exercise, you’ll be thinking practically and less emotionally.
It’s not All About You
Additionally, we often neglect to consider one important thing. That is the rejection of our work usually has absolutely nothing to do with us. Rather, it’s all about the juror or curator’s vision. It’s really more about their vision than it is about you. It’s just that simple. Every curator/juror has a vision/theme/aesthetic that they’re trying to accomplish as they choose work for a show. Sometimes when you get to see the show or the show catalog, you’ll immediately know why your piece wasn’t accepted. Because it simply didn’t fit in with that theme the juror was going for.
So how about doing this exercise each time you receive that dreaded rejection letter. Ask yourself the 5 actionable questions above and perform that last task of going to see the show or getting a show catalog. If you do, you’ll notice that those negative feelings of inadequacy and, inferiority will give way to positivity.
I can’t promise that rejection will never hurt again but it certainly won’t hurt as bad as it used to. You can look forward to entering shows with a positive attitude. And you can now open your rejection/acceptance letter without trepidation.
Questions: Is it easy for you to accept rejection of your creative work? Have you ever been thankful your work was not accepted into a show you applied for? If so, why?
I can’t wait to engage in this discussion. See you in the comments section.
How to Create Work for a Themed Call for Entry
Understanding the Jurying Process
How to Select Art Shows to Enter
Janis Doucette says
Good response! Right now I’m liking #5. One piece was just accepted but the one I thought to be the best was rejected and I actually did think – oh good, I still have time to submit it for something else!
Isn’t it cool when you can just turn around a rejection letter into an opportunity? Love it when that happens.