Friday, January 11, 2008

Rejection: Surrender into this Ocean

Oh the joys of being an artist, and the spectacular ups and downs that come with it! Just this week, I received news that a couple of pieces of my work had been rejected. It was quite a blow and a major disappointment. I can't get into all the details but I can say that it would have been a pretty big deal if my work had been accepted.

It is still a big win for me personally that my work was even considered and made it as far as it did in the process. Anyway, it wasn't chosen in the end and now I have to sit with that fact. I decided to give myself half a day to be really upset. I am not usually this pragmatic, but it seemed like a good way to handle it at the time, and I think it worked out well. I am no stranger to rejection, as in this business, it is simply a part of the experience of being a working artist. I usually try to focus on the positives and move on.

In this instance, I had been waiting to find out if my work was accepted for 6 months and I was given every indication that my work was "in" right until the very end. So, when I got the news that the work didn't make the final cut; I was shocked, sad, and numb. Quickly I decided on the half day plan of unabashed sadness, but not much more than that. I listened to dreamy nostalgic music, I cried and I ate a pint of soy ice cream. I emailed everyone close to me that knew about this potential opportunity and told them the news. I started to feel a little better and I then started to see all sorts of positives from participating in the experience. I could feel the weight of the past 6 months lifting off my shoulders. I am not a patient person, so the waiting was very nerve wracking. Now, the gig was up and I decided I was ready to move on.

As artists, we all know that rejection of our work is an occupational hazard but how you deal with it really makes a difference. I wondered how I would react if this was the news all the while I was waiting. I was pleasantly surprised, I did not let it derail me. I gave the news its due and then moved on. I got back in the studio right away, armed with a new play list on my iPod to build me up. Blaring songs of power and a little defiance, and they sounded so good. I had the most fun just rockin' out singing loud and painting.

There are so many reasons why our work is rejected, and there is no reason in wondering why or trying to conform to something you are not. Notice that through this whole post, I used the term my work, your work or our work is rejected... I am adamant about not taking it personally. I am not being rejected, perhaps some of my ideas or color combinations, designs or the lines I made are. I know I am a part of every painting, in fact a part of my best self is in every painting, but the experience I have while making these paintings is golden and is all for me. I keep that within no matter what happens with the work.

How do you deal with it when your work is rejected? Do you give yourself time to feel it and then move on? Or do you sweep it under the rug? Do you stuff it down deep inside and carry it around like a dark cloud, letting it interfere with your work? Let me know your thoughts on the subject in the comment section.

Know that you are not alone, and that rejection can be a valuable part of the process if viewed in the right light. It can give you the resolve to fight even harder for your work and just like the old song on my play list says,"you gotta Rise Above!"

See " Spaces between Insight"
by Megan Chapman
at the DDP gallery
located at 7 East Mountain St. Fayetteville.
Open: W-F 12-7 and Sat. 10-5 and by appointment
The DDP gallery exclusively represents my work for all of Northwest Arkansas


  1. Rejection isn't fun. It hurts. Often I walk away not feeling good enough about myself, and the thoughts, "Why am I doing this? I am obviously not good enough. Who am I trying to kid?" Come running through my head.

    Rejection is hard for me because so much of myself is in my work. Much of my work is autobiographic and for someone to not accept my work often times feels like they aren't accepting me. And that is hard.I think there are a lot of artists who feel the same way.

    The hardest thing to remember in the art world is the big word "subjective." The whole business revolves around this word, and sometimes you can loose sight of that. I do.

    I think the best way for me to deal with it is to remember all of the other things that I have accomplished and recall some of the best comments that I've received in the past. And then I start focusing on the next project or show or idea. A couple of beers doesn't hurt either :)I just deal with it for awhile and move on when I feel I have accepted it.

    Hope you have a great Friday, and a good weekend!

  2. I might have had TWO PINTS!

    Now the door is open to possibilities again....

  3. Great post & comments;
    rejection is the one thing I feel never gets any easier to understand, we all know that it is a risk and that we should move on, but we wouldn't be human if we didn't feel somehow wounded by the experience.
    Each time a gallery has rejected my work I think, that's it, may as well call it a day, and feel that way for days/weeks..
    But, the one thing one of my 'mentor's' at the studio told me "you don't paint for the galleries, and you shouldn't paint for the galleries.. you can't & if you do, you have lost sight"
    or words to that effect...
    What helps, or helps me anyway, is that I'm not alone in these thoughts.

  4. I love so many of your paintings and your works are all emotionally charged. You already know not to take it personally, and what Michelle said, about second guessing, is human. Zen-out and love the rejection and love You and Your creations :)

    In life it seems things like this happen and another opportunity will come your way, most certainly. You give so much positive energy, and your words here are incredibly encouraging, uplifting, and inspiring.

  5. great blog megan thank you for your honesty it seems like it would be hard to write about that i would like to see that emotion and that the energy that is in this blog in your work

    one thing i do is i try to put myself out there to as many galleries contest and so on as i can so it puts
    me in the position to say
    ---> NEXT
    keep it up megan