Welcome to the second edition of Open Call. Today we’re going to talk about REJECTION, and a little bit about how to best use limited resources to promote yourself when you are starting out.
Email us at [email protected] with any questions you have, concerns, success stories, challenges, or any other topic you’d like to discuss with a Gallery Director. Every other Monday we’ll publish a few of our favorites along with my replies. If you don’t see your email published, it does not necessarily mean it won’t be saved for a future installment. In fact, there were way too many good questions to make it into one edition.
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I have a question… Do all artists even really talented ones face rejection? I am a self taught painter, specializing in stylized portraits and imagined realism. I paint everyday and know I have a lot of room to grow. I live in a small Town and don’t seem to get lots of exposure , so I try to reach out to magazines and places in more metropolitan areas, hoping to get feedback or exposure…. However … I either never hear back or my work is rejected . I would love if someone would give me some valuable feedback
Everyone faces rejection regardless of what they do or where they live. Real rejection is tough to deal with sometimes and understandably discouraging, but it is going to be an unavoidable part of any plan that includes asking other people or their respective businesses and projects to include you, your work, and your ideas as a part of what they do, and no matter how much success you see it will still pop up from time to time. One thing I think is very important in dealing with the presence of rejection in a way that doesn’t bum you out or completely demotivate you, is to be able to learn the difference between rejection, and just not getting your desired result.
Here’s a way of thinking about this stuff that helps me. Maybe instead of getting upset or discouraged because someone or something is not doing enough to enable you to meet your own goals, take some time to think about what that other person, or gallery, or magazine’s own goals might be. Try to figure out what their goals might be and what they are working toward and ask yourself if or how what you do can be in sync with that. I’m not saying “change what you do”, just to reflect and make sure you try to know your audience and you’re being as smart as you can be about how you present what you do to them. Try to put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself why they should be interested. Be real and honest when you’re doing this. I’ve always been kind of an ideas guy and when I was younger and at some of my first jobs where there was a lot of group brainstorming and creative planning I would sometimes feel really frustrated when one of my ideas was dismissed. But the truth was that sometimes I just wasn’t very good at presenting my idea in a way that would even attempt to get other people as excited as I was, and sometimes my idea was not very good. It may seem like taking a look at where you need to improve could be even more depressing in theory, but in practice I think this is one of the best ways to move closer to the results you want.
Also make sure you are choosing places to contact who provide the things you are requesting in the first place. Some magazines are really great at using their influence and readership to put a spotlight on up-and-coming artists but to have the ability or even the staff to respond to everyone’s email with a detailed and thoughtful critique of their work is another thing entirely.
The feedback you want is there for you, it just may be closer to home than you’d like at this point. Don’t get hung up on that because wherever it comes from, it’ll help you grow and get better as an artist. Then you can build on that and go further, and that’s a whole lot better than feeling shut out.
I am an emerging UK artist trying to get my work seen and hopefully sold to a larger audience.
I show my work online and previously with a few other online galleries of which have not been that successful although I did have more views of my work on The Untapped Source. Although I have managed to sell a little on Artfinder sales have now dried up, I have not sold anything for five months.
Do you think the way forward would be to send promo postcards of my work to various designers, galleries and music labels ?
I have had my work published in magazines and [ a record company ] commissioned my work which was released in various countries. Also I have exhibited in various local galleries with other artists.
I would greatly appreciate your feedback and any help and advice you could give me.
I can’t speak for everyone but I don’t think unsolicited postcard or physical mailings is ever a good next move. Personally I think they’re wasteful and they also lack most of the context we’re looking for when finding artists to work with for the first time.
If the online sites haven’t been working for you, perhaps you should focus more on what has worked for you, or at least where there are real people involved who have shown some real level of interest in your work. Talk to the local galleries where you have participated in shows and have a conversation about what the next step is for you. Make sure whoever the decision-maker was at the record label was happy with the work you did, and if so express an interest in working again on a similar project, or ask if there are any other labels who are looking to add new artists to their vendor list when it’s time to make album or poster art for their bands.
It sounds like you already have a few different types of projects under your belt, so maybe instead of dumping money into printing, you can instead put some of those resources into having your accomplishments and range reflected on your website – so you have a strong resource and digital portfolio to show off your work when it’s requested.
Outside of that, generally galleries, labels, designers, each have their own preferred way to receive submissions. Sometimes this is public info and you should try to follow those guidelines.
Have a question for Patrick? Send inquiries to [email protected]
Patrick Shillenn is the co-founder and director of Arch Enemy Arts in Philadelphia. He doesn’t think he has all the answers. He just wants to have the conversation.
Follow him on IG @pshillenn & Twitter @mathclub