Thursday, August 25, 2011

Failing Forward

I just read Julie Fei-Fan Balzer‘s great post about being rejected and it inspired me to revisit the subject again because it is so darned important.

When I was a budding artist I thought the work I did was SO FANTASTIC, that I would blow everybody’s mind with my creativity. So when I was rejected, it was a crushing blow. The first time I was rejected from a show I cried for hours. Now, bazillions of rejections later, being rejected is a tiny blip on my radar screen.

Why? Well, first of all, I no longer place such importance on one piece.  Nor do I have such lofty feelings about my work. I like some pieces better than others, and I know some are indeed better than others, but each piece is just one part of a collective whole. I’m not banking ALL of me on any one piece. So, if it doesn’t sell, isn’t selected, gets a bad review or…. (fill in the blank), it is okay as it is just one small part of me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am completely devoted to my work, but I have come to learn that what other people think about my work has nothing to do with how I feel about it.

Why do we artist put so much pressure on ourselves to be the cream of the crop each and every time? Let’s face it; we can’t win every race we run. Or hit home runs every time we are up to bat. Why can’t we just be happy by being the best that we can be in that one moment?

I think this is where rejection and failure earn their keep.

They teach us that tenacity trumps talent and to keep on working.

That we need to face our fears and forge ahead, especially in doubt.

That we need to take risks and have the courage to fail.

That maybe we should throw caution to the wind and just do it. Right or wrong, let the chips fall where they may.

Or, that maybe we were swan diving into the wrong pool and to research more carefully the things we apply for.

That we need to hone our skills in all aspects of the business of art.

And, through it all, they help us find our own voices and grow as individuals and as artists.

They are just part of the process and are wonderful teachers, if we listen carefully.

I am so very glad to have spent time with both.

How about you?

I hope you have a creative day!


Jenny said...

I read Julie's post too and both of you have been so encouraging to me. As I have stepped out this year as an artist, I have also experienced the sting of rejection. Hearing about how you handle it is very helpful to me. Thank you for sharing your insight.

Kim Radatz said...


I'm standing here in my studio with my pom-poms waving wildly in the air cheering you on. You can do it, you can do it! And you’ll be better for it in the end.

I’m sending lots of positive thoughts your way for good news to come in the near future.

Thanks so much for stopping in.