How to Be a Resilient Artist

How to Be a Resilient Artist

Resilience. The word that is bandied around like it's going out of fashion. On one hand, it seems a bit cliche. Common. Like a catchphrase. But on the other hand, it seems logical to believe that it is bandied around for a reason. And that reason is that it is in fact an important personal quality. An essential one in fact, especially if we want to step outside of our comfort zone on occasion, take small risks or try new things. Because after all, life is long and life will deal us hard blows when we're the sort of people who don't live under rocks.

My road as an artist has been bumpy. Every artist's road is bumpy whether it is your primary career or a side passion. You need to battle your inner critic which let's just face it, can be awfully mean on some days... and you need to battle the big, wide world when you put your art out into the world for public consumption and public viewing. You need to be able to take negative feedback, you need to be able accept criticism, deal with rejection. But what I won't agree with, is that you need to "face the facts."

A beautiful art colleague of mine recently applied for an art exhibition and her piece was not accepted. It was turned down. Rejected. It won't be going on show for that exhibition. That is hard news to take. Because art is so personal, rejection really can hit hard. Business is similar. Making a sale in business is really about try, try, trying and then trying again. Accepting the turndowns, dealing with the rejections. But when your "product" is your art... something that you crafted with your own hands, something that you poured your heart and soul into, that rejection can be deeply hurtful.

A brief wallow is important. To ignore the emotional impact of rejection would be just plain silly. It would be backwards. It would be disrespecting yourself and invalidating your emotions. But once the wallowing is done, here are my instructions:

1. Ask yourself what you can learn from the experience? An exhibition rejection might mean that you need to seek specific feedback from the curators. A rejection from a retailer might mean that your art is not ready for retail just yet and you need to continue painting from the heart and approach the retailer again in a few months.

2. Analyse the opportunity. Was it in alignment with your vision, your "brand", your manifesto, your values as an artist? You may think that the rejection was because your art is not in keeping with the exhibition or the retailer's style... but if you flip that on it's head, it may in fact be because the retailer or the exhibition was not suited to YOUR style. Being true to your vision, your manifesto is absolutely central to your success. Now might be the time to research further to find more appropriate places for your art.

3. Do some positive journaling. The rejection happened. The wallowing is done. Grab your journal and write a page about all the good things you have experienced of late. Who gave you positive feedback? Did you make art that you enjoyed? Who have you inspired lately? Keep going until you have filled that page with positive arty news!

4. Fill your cup! Head out for a morning by the seaside or organise a coffee date with a supportive friend. Note that I didn't say any old friend... you need supportive ones as they are the ones that will lift you up. Fill that cup of yours with friendship and community and nature and whatever it is that brings you calm and grounds you again. Soak it up.

5. Pop that brave pill and pick your next arty adventure/challenge!

Comment below to share a tip with the other artists reading!



Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.