Artists – Learn to Love Rejection

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Fine Art Photography

I’ve seen a lot of blogs about “dealing with rejection” but not much on the healthful benefits of rejection. Rejection is part of the equation between you, your creative endeavor and the world at large. There simply is not enough demand for art, photography, writing, acting, quilting or whatever to go around so filters are there between you and success. Be it editors, curators, accountants, or directors – these filters or gatekeepers are there to weed through all of the stuff and decide what makes it through. Everything else is rejected.

Now of course these gatekeepers are not perfect and the worth of creative work is subjective but it exists and artist have two basic ways to “deal with it”. 1. Get mad and say “they don’t know good work when they see it and storm off or 2. Learn from the rejection.

What you don’t do is take it personally. 99% of people need to be rejected for these gatekeepers before they find what they want. That means plenty of great work is going to be rejects. There are countless stories of bestsellers being rejected by publishers or TV scripts like The Walking Dead being passed over by one network only to become super successful on another. If you are passionate about your work and truly believe in it then you’ll learn that perhaps you haven’t approached the right venue or it or your timing was off. No need to take it personal, just keep at it.

Now on the other hand if the work is returned with some helpful comments, then it might benefit you to explore those ideas. Because you have the opportunity for constructive feedback from an expert in the field. Personally I cut my teeth on producing stock photography. In the beginning my acceptance rate was about 10%. I just didn’t have the skills needed and didn’t fully grasp what the stock photography buyers were looking for — eventually my skills improved as well as my eye. Instead of wandering around trying to find stock images, I started planning them out and creating them. Eventually over time my acceptance rate grew to 90% and I started getting accepted at more prestigious stock agencies. My technical skills grew with every rejection to the point that my artistry grew.

No one can grow as an artist without feedback and rejection can be a form of feedback that is important for artistic growth. No one likes rejection but if one can learn from it, it will only help to improve ones work.

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