Friday, March 27, 2009

four in a week

Remember that time in 9th grade when the little dark haired girl who sat behind you told you that she'd rather just be friends? There are days when it feels a bit like that.

I don't think you ever get used to the rejections.

The nature of making art with the intended purpose of allowing others to view it requires some level personal risk. You can't simply show someone your work. That would be easy. When you show someone your work there is an unavoidable second step....there must be a response.

In most face to face scenarios you can count on a social contract to keep things pleasant. Viewer responses in this type of situation will be mostly positive simply because you are standing right there. But since most viewers do not just happen to stroll into your studio at the exact moment you've put the finishing touches on your most recent object of art, this is not the most common interaction for the artist to experience.

First you'll need to get your art out in public so that someone may view it. This means getting it into a gallery or exhibition space. Unless you own your own gallery this is no easy task. You'll need to enter some sort of juried show, or submit a work for consideration in an exhibition, or at the very least you'll need to let a gallery director know you have new work available.

And then comes the response.

Once in a while it is positive. Sometimes you'll get to return from the mailbox with a smile brought on by the thought that someone believes your work is good. This is validation. The artist lives for these moments. But as enjoyable as these moments may be, they are rare indeed.

More common is the less positive response. "We regret to inform you...., Though we admire your work....., While we respect your talent..." are phrases artists read in notification letters all too often. And while these are all very polite ways of saying you didn't make the cut, to the artist it generally sounds like "you suck, please cease in your attempts to make art".

I've been doing this a long time and I send out a fair amount of entries and packets. Which means I receive a steady diet of "no thank you" letters. But even after all these years it still stings a bit each time. Even though the rational part of my brain understands why my work may not have been a good fit for that gallery or why it would not have been considered for some show, that doesn't stop the irrational part of my brain from trying to take it personally.

Luckily the hard feelings don't last and soon you're able walk back in and face the little dark haired girl again. Besides, next time she might say yes.

No comments: