Friday, June 22, 2012

Rebounding from Rejection

by Liz Stewart of Lush Beads

This year I decided to try some new art and craft shows.  I was looking to expand my customer base, and try some new venues to see how my work sold there.  I researched a variety of shows, picked the ones that I thought would be a good fit, filled out my applications, prepped my images, and sent in my jurying fees.  Then, I waited.

I applied to approximately 8-10 shows.  I was rejected from all of them.  Every single one.  Each time I received a rejection, my kind friends comforted me:  "Jewelry is very competitive," "It wasn't the show for you," "Your work is fabulous and it is their loss," etc.  After the first few, though, I began to wonder what I was doing wrong.  Did I really pick all the wrong shows?  Was my work just not that interesting?  Were my photos actually total crap?  The final straw was when I was rejected from a show that I have done for 3 years that has been a huge moneymaker for me.  I was floored to receive that rejection letter.

After the initial panic of losing that expected income, I tried picking myself up off the floor. First thing I realized is that I needed to give myself some time to mope and be cranky about all of it.  Being rejected that many times stings a lot, and I needed to deal with those feelings.  Then I started brainstorming ways to replace that lost income.  I'd been considering a total revamp of my existing jewelry anyway, and this just made me kick that into gear sooner rather than later.  I'm going to ask some honest folks about my product photos and take their advice to heart.  I'm going to work harder on my Etsy shop, and on promoting it.  And I am going to look harder at consignment shops to see about putting my work there.  A friend suggested that I look into creating non-jewelry beaded items - I will consider that as well.

I also just released a new line of badge holders, a project I am doing in conjunction with the Northeast chapter of FEW.  Every week there will be a new "Badge Holder of the Week", along with the regular offerings.  I'm hoping it really takes off.

Sometimes you need a serious kick in the pants to step back and look at your business with a critical eye.  That is what I am taking away from this experience.  What about you?  How do you think you would react?


  1. I've only ever applied to a couple shows & got rejected, and responded by saying "Oh well never mind." Your reaction is better. ;)

  2. I see artmaking as a large series of rejetions at every level punctuated by the occasional affirming experience, so my reaction to rejection is usually that I need to put work out there more.
    Rejection does blow but it is one of the most honest, if sometimes ambiguous, forms of criticism there is. Probably why it stings so much but there is definitely value in it as well.

  3. Colleen: Trust me, there are plenty of times I have said "Oh well, never mind" to a particular show. :-)

    Chris: I would actually prefer that the rejection be more honest, rather than the generic, "We received a lot of entries and it was very competitive." If the truth is that my work isn't the style you want in your show, please do me the decency of saying so. Then I can stop wasting my time as well as yours.

  4. Having been on the rejecting end, as well as the rejected. A lot of show organizers are mega leery of giving honest/specific critique.

    I did it exactly once, when someone who didn't get into a juried show asked why . . . and I told him exactly why . . . and got savaged for it. Not only did he give me a hard time, but he went, via email, to the artist community that I was showcasing and vilified me, the show I was doing and future shows that I did.

    After that experience I stopped responding to requests for specific reasons why work didn't get in. Also, I lost a large pool of entrants who were influenced by him. Folks who I had shown previously.

    Double edged sword.

  5. Max: I see your point. Some people think they want honest criticism but can't handle it when they actually get it. I'm looking more for direction from the show producers - if their show's customer base is not one that would enjoy my work, just say so. I'm totally OK with that being the reason. Just be honest and save us both a lot of time.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...