I remember vividly having a moment of anxiety over applying for a show while I was studying at the University. My video professor at the time came over and laughed very hard when I told him why I was freaking out. (he thought it might be something actually serious like accidentally erasing my latest project, etc). He told me I better grow some thick skin because if I was upset at every potential “no” or actual “no” from shows I would never make it as an artist. Here he was an accomplished, internationally shown video artist telling me he always hears more “no’s” than “yes’s” and that most artist do. They build their careers on the yes’s they receive. I soon learned the same story from several of my other professors, again who were all accomplished artists in their own right.
I have to say, this was some of the best advice I received while in school. I hold those words near and dear to my heart as I apply for shows. As sensitive as I am (and I believe most artists are), it is hard not to feel a little wave of hopelessness and begin to question your work when dealing with rejection. I’m not talking about a good critical look at the work, which is healthy and important, but more “why am I even doing this” kind of questioning, which seems to only arrive in the face of rejection. Otherwise, left to my own devices, simply the making of, and answering whatever questions I have posed for myself within the making (of art) are in themselves enough to sustain my practice. Not only is facing a no the time to re-ground myself in my original desires as an artist, but also cherish every yes that does come my way. Because in the end, I do also desire to contribute to my children’s college funds, etc through my art. Each yes, however small, puts me one step closer to achieving that goal.