Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Screw Up Your Courage & Get Your Work Out There

Superior View, Hand-altered Polaroid Photograph, ©2009 Jeane Vogel

Working artists, inspired artists, hungry artists produce a lot of work. Some of it is wonderful. Some of it is not.

How do we tell the difference?

I use a time-honored technique. I ask my husband, of course, and my daughter. They love everything. Even if they don't, they tell me they do. My ego gets stroked.

Sadly, that's where lots of artists stop. Amateur artists, even professionals, don't ask for real critiques. Maybe they don't want to know. Maybe they know and don't want to face it. Maybe they don't want to do the work to get better.

Maybe they are just afraid.

Submitting work to be judged against the work of others is a frightening prospect. The fear of rejection is a poison dart to creativity.

And the fear of rejection can be boiled down to one simple component: you don't like me! That's what we do to ourselves. Our work reflects ourselves. If you don't like my work, you must not like me. I'm worthless. I'm stupid. I'm bad.

Oh good grief! No wonder therapists have such full schedules.

SNAP OUT OF IT! It's not personal.

It's the work, not the person, that is liked or not. And art is subjective. The same work can receive multiple rejections and acceptances in the course of a year or two.

And when you think about it, it's not the rejection that's so difficult, but the fear of it. The thought that we MIGHT fail that stops us from submitting work to a juried exhibition or seeking out a new gallery.

What's the cure? It's simple. Just do it. Gather your best work, write the check and submit to a juried show. Do it again. And again. And again.

Talent, vision, execution -- these are all vital parts of being an artist. But they are worthless if you don't exhibit your work. And, unless you own your own gallery, you cannot exhibit your work without submitting it to the judgment of others. Art isn't a pretty picture -- it's communication. It has to been seen. It has to be discussed. It has to be examined.

Will you get rejected? I can almost guarantee it.

Will you get accepted? If it's good enough, yes.

Will you learn from the experience? If you're brave enough, you will.


3 comments:

Hildy Gottlieb said...

Thank you for this, Jeane. It reminds me of the words of actor Bob Sorenson.

When Bob talks to high school drama classes about being a professional actor, he talks about rejection vs. "They just chose someone else." My favorite line of his is, "What hubris would I have to have to think that of all the people they saw that day, they singled me out to reject ME? The truth is it is simply not about me - for whatever reason, they just chose someone else."

I very much needed that reminder, and can't thank you enough for that!!
HG

chiang01 said...

This brings to mind something that I saw online:
Editors' Advice To Rejected Authors: Just Try, Try Again
If you don't get a paper rejected now and then, you're not trying hard enough
Thanks Jeane

Kate said...

I am just loving your honesty! So true! So true! We can only be failures if we "think" we are. Unless we try, we'll continually hold ourselves back. Right on!