It’s your masterpiece. You’ve put your heart and soul into its creation, packed it with love and care, and submitted it to the exhibition with pride.
And now it’s been rejected.
What to do?
There are two options: (1) you can have a good cry (optional), acknowledge the hurt, then pick yourself up and vow to submit something more dramatic/ suitable/ commercial next time or (2) throw a tantrum, blame the organisers, judges or anyone but yourself and refuse to speak to anyone connected with the exhibition ever again.
Option (2) has little to recommend it, but sadly it happens. I’m not negating the hurt feelings when rejection happens, but blame and negativity only hurt ourselves. We’ve all had work rejected during our artistic career and it is upsetting, but it’s part of an artist’s world.
Failure to get work accepted simply means that on this occasion it wasn’t what the judges were looking for. That could be because the work wasn’t technically good enough, but equally it could be that space constraints meant perfectly good works weren’t accepted or the style didn’t fit with the rest of the exhibition this time.
It’s not a criticism of you personally. The judges don’t hate you.
Submitting something means accepting the possibility of rejection, but if we can’t accept that then we shouldn’t enter. What is inexcuseable is verbal or physical abuse of the exhibition organisers or judges. So you were brave enough to enter but you weren’t successful this time: GET OVER IT!
Of course you can maximise your chance of getting work accepted, and better still sold, by planning your strategy. Here are my top tips:
- Read the rules for submitting work.
- Abide by those rules (you’d be amazed how many people don’t).
- Visit the exhibition (or view the online catalogue) so you know the type of work that is likely to be accepted before you enter.
- Check out which works sold. What do the buyers look for at this show?
- Compare your quality of work with that of others who exhibit there. Be sure your work will fit in.
- Check that your prices are in line with others in the exhibition.
- Send in high quality photos if that is how the work will be judged in the first instance.
- Make sure your framing is of a high standard and not so individual that it will likely clash with nearby works.
(Feel free to add your tips to the list.)
A little planning prior to entry can mean celebrations instead of commiserations. Wouldn’t you rather reach for the champagne that the Kleenex?
Rant (on behalf of exhibition organisers and judges everywhere) over.