Those of you who read my book Secrets of the Art World already know that back in 2008, after the real estate market crashed and many of my clients stopped purchasing art, I was faced with a difficult choice: Close the doors of my gallery and quit, or keep going, digging deep, and working harder than I ever had to improve—not only the business, but myself. Since I am here writing this blog today, the choice I ultimately made is fairly obvious.
I didn’t quit.
Trust me, I wanted to. I had some hard days. Some downright scary days. But I believed, without a shadow of a doubt, that if I did the necessary work, invested in myself and my business, and kept pursuing my passion, ultimately success would follow. I heard a lot of rejection in those days. Clients I counted on for years to purchase art were laying off employees and had no financial resources for art. I attended nearly empty trade shows and sold zero art. Through it all, I told myself: I can do this. I can figure this out. I will use this time to become better.
This should not be a newsflash to you at this point. As artists and entrepreneurs, you will receive rejections. It is part of the process. You will hear the word no. You will be turned down from galleries, you will not be selected for juried competitions, and collectors and buyers will pass by your work. It is painful. It hurts. But, you can’t take it personally. You can’t let one rejection (or ten or a hundred) change the way creating art makes you feel. You are an artist because you love to create. It drives you. It is part of who you are. I firmly believe if you follow your passion, success will follow.
5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Give Up After Rejection
1. Rejection is just another way of saying for Time for Improvement!
This is the beauty of rejection. Yes, you heard me correctly. Rejection can be beautiful. The “no thanks” you hear today, means you have been given time to improve and become better than ever. Part of success, I believe, is learning how to leverage and learn from your rejections. Rejections are teachable moments. When I was receiving a lot of rejections, it forced me to rethink my business model. I had to reach out to experts and seek their help and recommendations. Rejection forced me to improve. As an artist, you should take every “no” as an opportunity to continue working and improving. (Rejected from Art Comes Alive in the past? Here are some tips to improve your entry for this year.)
2. Every rejection is just one step closer to success.
Over the years, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with some of the most successful artists in the world. Every single one of them is where they are today, not simply because of their talent, but because of their dogged persistence. Rejections didn’t stop them. The word no didn’t stop them. Being poor didn’t stop them. They kept doing what they loved and kept working to be the best artist they could be. When I hear artists say to me, “Oh, I am not going to submit for ACA, because I was rejected once,” I think: SERIOUSLY? You have to keep trying! Don’t you know that persevering is the most important thing you can do to becoming a successful artist!
3. Art is subjective. So are judges/buyers.
We all know this: Not everyone is going to get your work, let alone like it. But, if you love what you do, chances are someone else is bound to love the work you do too. Just because your potential fans aren’t this year’s judges, doesn’t mean you won’t be selected again by other judges in the future. And just because one gallery doesn’t like your work, doesn’t mean another wouldn’t adore it. Art is as much a talent game as a numbers game. The more you put out and do, the more likely someone who appreciates and loves the work you do will find you.
4. Rejection makes your art more special.
Imagine if everyone’s art work was selected for every award show? Imagine if every piece created in the world was looked at equally? What if a child’s poorly drawn scribble and your carefully mixed media piece that you worked on for three months were equally judged? That would be awful for YOU. There would be no sense of accomplishment, no joy, and thrill of success. Ultimately, the rejections you receive now will make you feel so much more grateful for the “yes” you eventually hear down the road. It will mean something. It will represent all your hard work, dedication, and persistence.
5. You can’t win if you don’t play.
My father has a saying that my sister and I grew up hearing: “If you do nothing, nothing will happen.” If you don’t try and take a risk, you will be absolutely certain to avoid rejection. But you are unwittingly avoiding success as well. Do not put limits on your own success. Do not let one person’s no or criticism determine your future, your success. Keep trying. Keep working. Keep improving. And never, ever give up!