Dealing with Art Rejection

How Do Artists Deal With Rejection? 8 Ways to Handle Artistic Rejection

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When you are an artist, especially if you are going to sell your art, you will need to learn how to deal with and face rejection. But this is one of the most difficult things for any artist to learn how to deal with.

To learn to deal with artistic rejection, you must ensure you believe in yourself as an artist and not let the rejection define your art and who you are. When you are rejected, try to acknowledge the rejection’s pain and then learn to let that pain go. If the rejection is extremely painful, you may need a short break from your art. You must realize that not everyone will love your art, but that is OK. So be kind to yourself. Learning how to deal with rejection is essential for almost every artist, as every artist must deal with rejection at some time.

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Facing rejection is an inevitable part of an artist’s career, especially for those looking to sell their work. It’s often one of the most challenging aspects to come to terms with. Learning to handle artistic rejection is crucial, not only for your professional growth but also for your personal well-being.

The first step in coping with rejection is maintaining self-belief as an artist. It’s essential to remember that rejection doesn’t define the value of your art or your identity as a creator.

When faced with rejection, allow yourself to acknowledge and feel the disappointment, but then focus on moving past it. In cases where the rejection feels overwhelming, it might be beneficial to take a brief step back from your art. Here are a few strategies to help you manage and overcome rejection

Here Are 8 Ways to Help You Deal With Artistic Rejection:

1 – Believe In Yourself As An Artist

Do not let any rejection define your art and who you are as an artist. I once heard a definition of an artist as:

“…anyone, that decides to pick up a paint brush and starts to paint is an artist…”


It does not matter how many classes you have taken or how many art degrees you have or do not have (though I am sure both of those help your painting); once you decide to take up a paintbrush and paint, you are essentially an artist.

Being an artist can be a bit like many other things in life in that we may tell ourselves that we are not as good as other artists. I know I used to feel very insecure about my art, but the more I continued painting, the more I could define my art and style the more confident I became.

Defining my art style is an ongoing process. My entire life will be spent learning about my artistic style and then changing and adjusting my style. Constantly refining and re-defining your art is just the nature of being an artist.

So when you do not feel good enough as an artist, remember that the minute you dared to pick up a paintbrush and start to paint, you became an artist.

2 – Do Not Let Rejection Define Your Art

The world is filled with many different artistic tastes and all different kinds of art. Some people will love your art, and others will hate your art, and yet others will be neutral about your art. Some of those who may not appreciate your art may even be your closest family and friends.

Work on defining your art and yourself as an artist. Those who do not like or appreciate your art do not allow them to change or explain how or what you paint. Instead, learn to listen to your inner artistic voice and remind yourself that you are an artist.

I love this quote by Vincent Van Gogh:

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced”

Vincent Van gogh

3 – Do Not Let Your Art Define Everything About You

Artists are generally people who feel things deeply. That can make a designer or an artist great at their work. We feel our art, which is a part of who we are.

But like most things in life, things can come and go. There may be times in your life when you feel an artistic “dry spell” and hardly paint at all. So you must know who you are as an artist and a person so you can work your way through those “dry spells.”

Vincent Van Gogh has cautioned us all on not losing our minds while giving our heart and soul to our artwork. He said:

“I put my heart and soul into my work, and I have lost my mind in the process“

Vincent van gogh

Put your entire heart and soul into your work, and do not lose your mind. When you feel something so deeply, I realize it can be hard to ask an artist not to lose their mind when they feel rejected. You can continue to feel things deeply so that your art can pour out of your soul and have the personal fortitude to continue with your art – even throughout the pain of rejection.

4 – Acknowledge the Pain of Rejection – Then Let It Go!

When your art is rejected, one of the healthiest things you can do is acknowledge your rejection and the pain you are feeling, then deal with the pain and learn to let the pain go. Learn to be able to move on from the pain and keep on going.

If you need to take some time off from your painting, then do that, but come back.

I also love this quote by Vincent Van Gogh:

“I try more and more to be myself, caring relatively little whether people approve or disapprove”

Vincent Van Gogh

Like Vincent Van Gogh, learn to be yourself and not care if people approve or disapprove of your art. And keep on going no matter what rejection comes your way.

5 – Look Forward Not Backward

Learn to look forward in life and not look backward. When your art is rejected, learn to look more to the future than 21`the rejection you have just encountered.

Vincent Van Gogh also said:

“I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart”

Vincent Van Gogh

Be in with all your heart with your art. But also be able to learn from past mistakes and past rejections and move forward towards a bright future.

6 – If the Rejection is Extremely Painful, Take a Short Break

Sometimes, the rejection may be so painful that the best thing for you to do would be to take a short break from painting. If you decide to take that short break, return to painting as soon as possible.

Vincent Van Gogh also said that:

“The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides, and in its depths, it has its pearls too”

Vincent Van Gogh

So when you are in the midst of those storms or even in the high tide periods, there may be times when you need to have a break from your art. When you need to take a break from your art, here are a few things you can do:

  • Use the time off to review – If you take a break from painting, you can review your art and look at other artists you admire. This can help you to get additional inspiration.
  • Set a date or time to come back – Set a date or time when you will return to painting again. Then, on that date or time, pick up a brush. Even if you do it briefly, at least do it and start to paint.
  • Have a plan – One of the most important things you can do during this period is to use the time for planning and goal setting. Have a plan to learn new things and brush up on your skills.

7 – Love Yourself No Matter What

No matter what happens with your art or with you as an artist, love yourself and treat yourself well. Let that define who you are, not the rejection.

As Vincent Gogh also eloquently reminds us:

“If I am worth anything later, I am worth something now. For wheat is wheat, even if people think it is a grass in the beginning”

vincent Van gogh

8 – Realize Not Everyone Is Going To Like Your Art And That Is OK

This is perhaps one of the hardest things for most artists; I know it is for me. We naturally want everyone to like our art. Especially in the world we live in today, we like to count all the likes we get or do not get on platforms like Instagram or Facebook.

But the truth is that just like not everyone will press a “like” for your art on Instagram or Facebook posts, they will also not like or appreciate it in person.

Vincent Van Gogh reminds us that things can be challenging when we first start painting, but things will get better as we get going with our painting. Here is what he said:

“The beginning is perhaps more difficult than anything else, but keep heart, it will turn out all right.”

Vincent Van gogh

So, the moral of this quote is that it can be difficult whenever you start painting or doing anything new, but as we do it, the easier it becomes. Even if you get rejected and people do not like your art, keep on going and painting.

Even some of the best artists that have ever lived as Vincent Van Gogh, has had to deal with a lot of rejection of their art. The main thing is that you do not lose sight of what you are doing and why you are doing it. And most of all, it is essential that you continue painting and developing your artistic style.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for an Art Exhibition?

Many artists will want to exhibit their work at an art exhibition. Here are a few things you should remember when applying to exhibit your art at an Art Exhibition:
Pick your best art pieces – This goes without saying; it is just common sense that you would pick only your best pieces to be shown.
Take excellent photographs – Make sure you pick your best pieces and take amazing photographs of the art you are exhibiting to show to those who will display it. Also, if you sell your art, you will want excellent photographs.
Tell a compelling story – People love to have a story so they can relate to the painting and your art. So be sure to tell a very compelling story. Stories such as: Why did you paint this painting? What inspired you to paint it? Is there a story behind the style, the colors, and the technique? Then be sure to tell a compelling story clearly.
Look professional – Look professional by having name cards, a logo, a website, and other social media accounts. It would help if you look professional and that you know what you are doing with your art.

What Are Some Common Mistakes That Cause Rejection From An Art Competition?

You put a lot of effort into an art competition application, and you feel you had done everything right, but then you get an email or phone call and they tell you that your art has been rejected. You then discover that the reason is that you made some common errors or mistakes that could have easily been avoided.
Here are some common mistakes that you should try to avoid:
You did not fully follow the requirements of the exhibition.
Your photos were of low quality, so it did not really show your work in the best light.
You did not follow the requirements of the exhibition for photographing your artwork.
You omitted or mistyped important information on the application form.
The art and your artistic style did not fit the theme of the art competition.
You only submitted one image, though you could have submitted many more images for the same cost.
No proper CV or resume, so the judges cannot correctly judge your qualifications.
You did not provide the proper medium descriptions or size dimensions.
You rushed your application process, so you made some common and costly mistakes such as email, phone, or other incorrect information, so you were automatically eliminated.

How should I respond when my artwork is rejected?

It’s important to respond professionally. Acknowledge the decision, and if possible, ask for feedback. Use this as a learning opportunity to understand different perspectives and improve your work. Remember, rejection is not a reflection of your worth as an artist

How can I prevent rejection from affecting my confidence?

Keep in mind that rejection is a common experience for all artists and often not a reflection of your talent. Focus on your passion for art and continue creating. Engage with a supportive community and remember that every artist has faced and overcome rejection.

Is it normal to feel discouraged after my art is rejected?

Yes, feeling discouraged after rejection is normal and valid. It’s important to acknowledge your feelings but also to not dwell on them. Instead, use this experience to motivate yourself to refine your skills and continue creating.

Can rejection be beneficial for my artistic growth?

Absolutely. Rejection can be a powerful tool for growth. It can provide insight into different tastes and standards in the art world. Use it as an opportunity to critically evaluate your work, explore new techniques, and expand your artistic horizons.

What should I do if I keep facing rejection with my artwork?

Consistent rejection can be disheartening, but it’s crucial to persevere. Reflect on any feedback you’ve received and consider diversifying your style or experimenting with new mediums. Networking with other artists for advice and support can also be helpful. Most importantly, continue to believe in your art and yourself.

What Are Some Ways I Can Find Artistic Inspiration Through Travel?

One of the ways that travel can help you find some artistic observation is by seeing new colors and color combinations through your travel. It will also open your eyes to new patterns. Through people-watching, you will find new subjects to paint. You will also see new shapes and objects. Travel helps to train you to be more observant.

You can read more this by reading our blog 5 Tips to Find Artistic Inspiration through Travel by clicking here

Should Every Artist Have A Website?

Having a website can seem like a lot of work and a lot of time that many artists do not want to take away from their paintings. Every artist today needs to have a website. Some of the reasons are that an artist is essentially running a small business, so in running the small business, they need to have a website like any other business owner.

To find out more about why every artist should have a website, you can read our blog 11 Reasons Every Artist Should Have a Website by clicking here.

Anita Louise Hummel
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