Being told no for an art opportunity happens to every single artist. If you are feeling angry about rejection or response, this post is here to remind you why keeping your lips sealed and maintaining professionalism is important at all times.
Social Media: Online is not an outlet for rants. It seems like an easy solution, post your rant and get heard. It’s easy to feel supported by people liking and commenting, however, this method is not a professional approach. Comebacks, rants and public call-outs are not a solution to a rejection notification from an art show or opportunity. Do you expect to now get a yes because of your behavior? Social media is public. Even after you delete your post, people will remember your rant, especially those you directed your message towards.
All Ears: You never know who is listening, watching, or reading your posts. Creative colleagues may also read your rant and make decisions based on your choice words and behavior. You could be missing future collaborations, opportunities, recommendations, and referrals from other creatives who know you and your work. Word gets around and you want words about you and your work to be positive. Don’t let a moment of frustration and rejection set the tone for how your creative community perceives you.
Making Assumptions: There are many reasons why you would be told no. Assuming you know why you received a no (without an explicit reason) leads to speculation and blame. Thinking that the “rejector’s” taste in your work is wrong and that someone doesn’t understand good art is the wrong approach. Making assumptions about the judge, gallery coordinator, or whoever told you “no” isn’t a good approach.
Taming Your Inner 5 Year Old: Professionalism can be hard to maintain when emotions run high. A lack of a professional response and a public outcry of your rejection demonstrates a lack of maturity. Blame and a tantrum is more of what a 5-year-old would do, not a professional artist. And while Julia Cameron will argue that all of our inner artists are the age of a child, that doesn’t mean we need to act like one.
Choosing Your Focus: There’s really something to focusing on the positive. Rejection hurts and you may need to spend some time “licking your wounds,” taking a break from art-making, healing, or other ways to move past the rejection. The bigger the letdown, the longer it may take to feel better.
Building a Support Network: Find a small group of a few close colleagues who you can talk to and lean into when rejection occurs. Everyone is told no at some point, not just in the art world and others can help you when it gets tough. A support group may be able to spread some light and perspective to your situation.
Appropriate Outcry: Speak out when injustice happens, when things aren’t fair, and you are discriminated against. Stand up for yourself and access the arts in your community. Be purposeful with your outcry and make waves happen.