Hello! Welcome to my blog, “Left Brain Skills for Right Brained People”
I’m a Career & Life Coach for artists and other creative people. I’m based in the San Francisco Bay Area but work with artists throughout the U. S. and all over the world.
This is the third installment of my blog, where we’re reviewing a checklist of 10 behaviors that make a difference in an artist’s career. It gives you a way to think about what you’re doing (and not doing) right now.
Checklist for a Successful Art Career (26 KB)
Let’s take a look at the third question: “I am able to overcome rejection quickly.”
When you’re trying to make progress in an art career, you have to put yourself out there. To build a resume, you enter juried shows. When seeking funding, you apply for grants. When you’re looking for community, you apply for residencies. If you’re building a business, you reach out to potential customers. Since the art world is a competitive place, your efforts make you vulnerable. You open yourself up to rejection.
Faced with this possibility, you might decide to limit the number of shows, or grants, or residencies you apply for. You choose “the best one,” or “the ideal customer,” and put all your energy into a single effort. Then you wait and wait and wait … and eventually get a NO. Often they tell you about the numbers: “there were 950 entries and the juror could only choose 50 artists.” And so what happens? You fall into a rabbit hole of confusion and self-doubt, and wait two years before attempting anything again.
In order to overcome rejection quickly, you need to get rejected more often. You apply for MORE opportunities so that the numbers work for you. Here are a few examples from my coaching practice. An emerging artist who was trying to build her resume set a goal of entering 2 juried exhibitions every month (24 per year). At the end of the year she had been accepted into 6 shows. A mid-career artist who wanted a solo show at a museum sent out 14 proposals. Two museums said YES. The more possibilities you try, the more likely it is that you’ll succeed. When a rejection comes in, you feel disappointed, but then you move on to the next opportunity. You build momentum, so that a single rejection doesn’t derail you.
In the next blog I’ll be talking about question #4 on the checklist, “I’m comfortable using technology.”
Mary Edwards, Ph.D.
Career & Life Coach for Artists