Some of the things not covered when you learn art are how to gain confidence, how to have faith in yourself and how to cope with rejection or disappointment.
It seems that only by experience, and a lot of it, do you start to gain a thicker hide that helps you not crawl into a corner of self doubt what you think you have produced something very special or even you best, and it is rejected or dismissed. Even worse can be if it attracts negative remarks or assessment or is beaten by what is agreed by many as an inferior work.
I am going to speak from experience here.
I have found that the distance of exhibiting my work and not selling or winning an award at a venue I am not present at, is easier than being in the room with it. I enter about thirty exhibitions a year at the moment. I am not winning heaps of awards and sales have been slim. I am OK with that as I know I am still building up a name. I don’t have to be in the room if someone doesn’t like what I have done, I don’t have to listen to what they have to say – especially if I disagree.
When you are present and don’t do well it is harder. Especially when I am not the only person in the room totally confused by results of an art competition.
I have a few things I have learnt to apply in these cases.
- How important is this person’s opinion in my long term plans?
- Has the person said anything positive that I can glean out of everything and use?
- Did I do the best job on this work I could?
- Am I proud of the work I produced?
- Have I received positive feedback from elsewhere to balance this out?
- Were there merits in the artworks that were positively commented on or that were awarded or sold?
- What can I learn by have a good look at these works to see how they were done?
- Do I need to show my work in front of this person/group/panel again?
- Be a good sport no matter what. Reputation is hard to build and easy to lose.
If all else fails, you may want to do this. Have a “don’t bother” list. In other words, there are some places, groups and judges who will not like your work. They have an idea of the type of art they like and will not select other types they don’t like.
Not every group or exhibition etc has a list of criteria for judging artworks. As a matter of fact, I doubt if many have them. Some judges are prominent members of industry, politics or the community with no art qualifications at all. Some are professional artists who have the ability to produce their art, but still have no training in assessing artworks. Some just don’t like what you do.
What ever the case if you are serious about being a professional, you need to glean what you can from a negative situation and move on and if you need to, become more selective about where you show your work, and to whom.
In the past month I have had two big disappointments where work I thought was some of my best was not awarded even a place by a judging artist (the same person both times). Many at these events were also confused by the decision. I applied my list of suggestions (as above) and when I checked my “don’t bother” list I realised I should have checked it first, as the name was on it from over three years ago.
I can now let it go. It is still disappointing, but I can now look forward with the confidence that I did my best and I have new events and challenges in mind. One thing that will not happen, is me giving up.