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How To Deal With Creative and Artistic Rejection?

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Not Everyone Will Like Your Art -Why That Is OK

When I first started to oil paint, I would be so worried when I showed people my art that they would not like it, or they would think I was such a lousy painter but will be too polite to really tell me what they think. It took me a while to even get up the courage to show anyone my art.

Every artist or creative person will need to learn to deal with artistic or creative rejection as not everyone will like your art, but that is OK. We cannot expect that everyone will like or even understand our art or our creative work. Being an artist or creative person means that you also need to learn to deal with some artistic rejection.

This kind of rejection is so much a part of every artist’s life, and almost every artist needs to learn to deal with it. Here are some ways I have found that help me to deal with the pain when I feel my artistic endeavors are rejected:

Realize you are not alone – Everyone gets rejected

When your art gets rejected, you can begin to think that you are the only ones who have ever experienced rejection in your lives or with your art. But the truth is that many great artists have experienced some kind or type of artistic rejection at one time or another in their life.

Perhaps one of the most well-known stories is that of Vincent Van Gogh. His style was not appreciated by the art critics of the time. They did not understand it. But what I love about Van Gogh’s story is that he just kept on painting. Folklore says he only sold one painting in this lifetime, but others say he must have sold a few more. Whatever the case, we know that Van Gogh faced a lot of hardship and rejection in his life, but that did not stop him from doing what he loved, which was painting.

Every artist at some time is going to have a deal rejected. I love this quote by John Lyngate:

“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.

John lydgate

No matter how much you want to please everyone or have everyone love and praise your artwork, it will never happen. Some will love it and understand it, and others will hate it, and still, others will disapprove. It is all part of being an artist.

Don’t let the rejection define you and your art

One of the things I love about the story of Vincent Van Gogh is that he never allowed the critics to define his art. He painted the way he saw things and not how others wanted or felt he should paint. I find this attitude and his awareness of his art to be very inspiring.

When I feel rejected as an artist, I can maybe begin to doubt myself and my abilities. I wonder if all the work I am doing or putting into my art is worth it or if I should just quit.

But that is exactly what the critics want. They want you to feel small or to feel that rejection. Do let them win. Rise above it all and be like Vincent Van Gogh. I don’t really care what they say and paint from your soul. Paint the way you feel you were born to paint.

Believe in yourself and your abilities

If someone does not like your art, even someone very close to you, continue to believe in yourself and your abilities. Do not let that one or two or even three critics determine your future.

I have spent most of my life working in product design. We work with some excellent product designers through my company Mondoro. At Mondoro, we create, design, and manufacture products for the home accessories and home furniture industry. Over the years, I have learned that I can show two excellent designers the same design. One of them may love it, and another may hate it. I have thought is one of them wrong and the other right? But I have learned that they are both right. It is just a matter of taste and preference.

And so it is with art. You can show your art to two different people. One may love it, and the other may hate it. It can just be a matter of individual taste, preference, or even artistic understanding. There may not be one clear cut right or wrong – and that is OK. Accept that and embrace it.

This is why an artist should never allow themselves and their abilities to be decided and determined if Grandma or Grandpa love and appreciate your art, or if a friend acted like they did not care about your art. What you need to do is keep on painting.

Ask yourself – What can I learn from this rejection?

I sat down with a company I know in my industry that sells a lot of art, and they were kind enough to look at my paintings. The company owner was extremely kind, but when I asked him what he thought, he frankly told me that there was only one or two of the pieces that he really liked.

At first, I was a bit crushed, but then as I thought about it, I realized that he was coming from his company’s perspective and what his company was selling.

I even found it interesting that the one-piece he really liked was very easy for me to paint. The ones that I put my blood, sweat, and tears in, he did not care for.

I learned from this that, yes, I had talent, but I also had a lot I had to learn about my painting, my style, and who I was as an artist.

So when rejection of some kind come to you, sit down and ask yourself these question,

Art is a journey, not a destination

I believe the sign of a great artist is someone who is never quite satisfied with their art. And when I say never satisfied, I mean that you are constantly out there looking at how to push to your art’s next level.

Art is a journey, not a destination, meaning that a true artist is always looking at how to change, move up to the next level, paint, or explore something they have never done before. You can never arrive, sit back with your art and say, “OK, now I am here; I have arrived.”

I think if we can all look at art as a journey, not a destination, then we will also take rejection better as then we will say, “Ok, they did not like that, that is OK.” I am on an artistic journey, a discovery here, and not everyone in my life will come along with me, and that is OK; I can live with that.”

Rejection is something we all need to deal with in life. At times, as an artist, the rejection may something we feel is very personal – we may take it very personally. We may start to doubt ourselves and our abilities.

But if rejection really is an opportunity for our artistic abilities to grow and help push us to a new artistic level of achievement.

What are some famous artists that were rejected by critics?

The list of famous artists that were rejected by art critics is very long. But here is an excellent article on 7 Masterpieces Rejected by Art Critics. When you are rejected by an art critic or someone else, you are now in a very famous club of many great artists who have also faced rejection.

Why was impressionism art, during its time period, so widely rejected?

There are many reasons that impressionism art was rejected when it first started, but some of the reasons are that it broke from the long and accepted traditions of its time.

During the emergence of impressionism art, fine-art oil painting was an essential addition to the interior design of a home, especially for the affluent and the increasing arrival of the middle classes. For these art patrons, only some particular art styles were considered acceptable for them to use for the interior design of their home, and impressionism art did not fit into any of these culturally acceptable fine art categories. 

You can discover more by reading our blog Why Was Impressionism Art at First Rejected? by clicking here.

Anita Louise Hummel
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