The artist’s life is full of rejection and criticism. Think of the roadblocks you encounter every day.
- The gallery doesn’t want your work.
- You didn’t get accepted into a show
- That couple praised your recent piece, but didn’t buy it.
- The people who enter your art festival tent keep talking about how they could make something exactly like your work.
- The residency you want so badly won’t consider your application.
- You aren't happy with the number of likes on your latest post.
Watch The Video
Watch the IGTV video from June 17, 2021 or keep reading for more. (Don't miss the comments—they're super rich.)
View this post on Instagram
You Persevere, Though It's Not Easy
You might have a bad bout of imposter syndrome and even begin to wonder what the point of all this is.
It’s amazing that any artist thrives at all. It’s a testament to your resilience that you persevere despite the roadblocks you encounter.
You do it because you have an unwavering commitment in the work you do. You can’t imagine doing anything else.
Still, because you are human, the criticism and rejection hurt.
The negative voices are louder than any chorus of praise you might receive. The default for so many of us is to dwell on the negative comments and rejections and ignore all of the nice things that people say about our work.
Do this instead: Pump up the volume on the positive messages that are all around you.
Make a Confidence Stash
I won’t pretend that I experience the same kind of rejection as you, but I receive my share. Something I’ve done for years might help you get through the tough times.
I keep a “Loved” File, and I suggest you do the same. Cynthia Morris recommended that I start this warm-and-fuzzy file about a decade ago. Over the years, my file has grown to four stuffed folders and, wanting to save on paper, an electronic version in Notion.
In the IGTV video above, I call it a Confidence Stash. In the comments below, others have embraced the names Emergency Cheer, Atta Girl File, and Encouragement Folder.
The file, in whatever format you choose and whatever you cal it, is a reminder that you are loved. That you are respected. That you are valued. Here are some examples of what you'll store.
- Keep that email from a fan. Highlight your favorite sentence.
- Take a screen capture of the “I love it!” comments after you posted your artwork on social media or your blog.
- Write down the nice things people say to you at your opening. Don’t dismiss them! Don’t wonder why they didn’t buy if they like it so much. Appreciate the moment. Bask in the adulation.
- Treasure the kind words from students who benefit from your knowledge and generosity of spirit.
- There’s no need to stop with your art business. Relish the appreciation of friends, neighbors, and coworkers.
Whenever you question if you should be an artist, pull out your file and be assured that you do have impact and you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
This post was originally published on February 9, 2017, and has been updated with the very useful comments intact.