There are times when rejection is fine. Rejection for a "certain death"mission behind enemy lines for instance? That could be a plus if old age is one of your life goals. But there are precious few times in life when the memory of rejection will bring a smile to your face. Artists will relate. But what if we look at rejection from another perspective? Rejection can help the artist. Here's why.
1. You are in the game. If you are never rejected then you are not in the game. Playing it safe on the sidelines is no way to taste success and grow. You can only fool yourself for so long before the effects become debilitating. Over time you will not know what it is you are seeking and your passion will dry up. Sad. Instead get into the game. Get rejected. Get back in the game. It is life my son. Carry on.
2. You are good enough. Odd as it may sound everyone regarded as good at their art has endured rejection many times. Some stars of the art world faced rejection so many times they wear it as a badge of pride. Novelist Stephen King added his rejection letters to a growing pile of notes. He kept on plugging away until he made his breakthrough. Rejection becomes motivation.
“By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.” (Stephen King)
3. Rejection means you are not trying to please everyone. A recipe for mediocrity is to try and please everyone. Even worse is to lose your unique voice in the process. That is a burden no artist needs to carry. The object remains to create YOUR art. You will improve in technique, but it is your soul that needs to guide you.
4. Rejection Can Spark Greatness. The official Salon rejected the works of many new artists in nineteenth century France. This led to the birth of impressionism. Monet, Degas, Renoir - all rejects. Thank God for that. And impressionism led to more great art movements. Long live rejection!
5. Rejection helps you find out who you are. As the saying goes if you do not stand up for something you will fall for anything. Sometimes we need to rise above a difficult situation to see the path ahead. To progress as artists and as human beings. Strength of character is vital. And is a scarce commodity these days. Prepare, practice and forge on. The world needs people like you.
6. Rejection keeps your focus. What is the goal? To produce great work of course! Nobody cares about how many exhibitions, fans, friends, likes or Instagram followers you have. What counts is your work. Aim for this and produce the work that matters to you the most. Maybe they will not understand you right away. So what? But is the work of good quality? That matters so use good materials and techniques. Be professional even if you are not aiming for sales.
7. Rejection teaches patience. There is a danger here. Some people internalise rejection into a desire for revenge. To rub the critics' noses in it one day. Do not be this person. Remember how Salieri felt about Mozart? The pain of rejection led to Salieri harboring jealousy and then hatred for Mozart. Rather keep the faith and work on your art with lightness of spirit. Remember love is the source of great art. And yes your successes will taste the sweeter for it.
A final word on rejection. Do not get to like it. It is true that some artists love to be the poor-me type. It is always someone else's fault and life is so unfair. Shame. These people are so far gone that they will drag you down. And who needs that? Instead learn from your experience and get better. After all the object of rejection is to rise above it and grow as a well rounded artist. The rejections will decrease. But understand that rejection will always be there when you lower your standards or try new things.
The winner takes rejection and accepts responsibility. And comes back stronger. Associate with others who carry the light forward and love the journey. It is the only one we have so make it count.
A final word:
“If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery--isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you'll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is.”
I made this video as a summary of the topics and to inspire artists. Please share with someone who may find it useful. Thank you
Malcolm Dewey: Artist. Country: South Africa