Fear of rejection and failure is one of the toughest challenges for an artist to overcome and the bad news is that rejection and failure are part of the artistic process that every artist will have to deal with at some point. The good news is that you can learn a lot from both of them and turn them into positives that will help you grow as an artist but only if you don’t allow them to overwhelm you. I’ve learned to use rejection and failure as a way to motivate myself to keep trying.
In 2002 I quit my corporate America job and began my artistic journey and one of my first goals was to see my name in Quilting Arts magazine. I was dabbling with a lot of different techniques and materials without much focus and wanting to see my name in that magazine was a pretty lofty goal for sure but I put it on my bucket list and it sat there for 5 years while I submitted proposal after proposal only to receive rejection after rejection. A lot
of artists probably would have given up after the first couple or even the first one but I wasn’t going to let those rejection define me as an artist and I kept trying. At the same time, I was working hard on mastering the techniques and materials that I was using and 5 years later I achieved my goal and I wrote an article for the 2007 premier issue of Quilting Arts Gifts! It was a proud moment when I opened that magazine and saw my work on those pages and it was a testament to how hard work, focus and keeping your eye on the goal really does pay off. It would be another 6 years until my work found it’s way into Quilting Arts Magazine again in an article I wrote for the April/May 2013 issue but in that 6 year gap I never stopped working to refine and perfect the techniques that I was using so that I could present myself as an expert on the topics that I propose writing about.
Since then I’ve appeared in the magazine an additional 6 times and my work graced the cover of the 15th anniversary issue!
Not every article I propose to them or other magazines gets accepted and I still get my fair share of rejection notices but I don’t let them discourage me from continuing to try.
And I don’t just get rejections from magazines, I have a growing pile of rejections from art calls too – every artist no matter where they are in their journey gets artwork they’ve submitted to a call rejected. It’s part of the process and you can’t avoid it and it doesn’t necessarily mean that your art isn’t good. Artwork gets rejected for a lot of reasons and I’ll write more about that in another post. However, if you let fear of getting a rejection notice keep you from submitting then you’ll never get accepted and that my friends is worse than rejection.
My point is this: rejection and failure is not an endpoint – it’s a midpoint along the journey. Think of them as a bridge you have to cross to get to where you want to go and each bridge you cross makes you smarter and gives you an opportunity to learn and grow. Don’t let your fear of rejection or failure define you and keep you from achieving your goals. Accept the fact that both are an inevitable part of the process and use them as a stepping stone instead of a roadblock on your journey.