6 Things

by lesley // posted on Jan 23, 2017

1.  It takes a hundred "nos" before getting to one "yes".   

When you become a professional artist and are seeking exhibition venues, media attention and buyers for your work, celebrate every time you are turned down.  Each "no" brings you one step closer to a "yes".  I swear this on a formidable stack of my own rejections.

2.  Rejection is not about me.  It is not personal.

It took a few years to develop a genuine "non-reaction" to having my work declined by a jury.  I had to work at getting over myself.  It wasn't about me.  Major exhibitions receive hundreds of submissions.  There are several valid reasons a work may not be accepted.  Understanding it's the work, not you that's being rejected, evaporates the sting. 

3.  Promises made are not necessarily promises kept.

Venues where I can be present with my work are the best.  Interaction with the public is invigorating and inevitably teaches me something new or reinforces past lessons. 

People are sincere when they say they say they will contact you, will be back shortly,  would like to commission a piece, they have an amazing photo they want to share with you, they would like to arrange a studio visit, would like lessons...the list goes on.

There was a time these statements created anxious anticipation often followed by diappointment.  This too I've overcome by appreciating their intent, but not attaching expectation.  It really is freeing to arrive at this stage so by passing this along, I hope it will help you cut to the chase.

4.  The way to personal success: keep improving - detach from the outcome.

I measure success differently now.  I thought if at least 5 people a month weren't signing up for my newsletter, visiting my studio, emailing or calling me, I was failing.  None of that is true.  Whether things are quiet or busy, I now maintain a "steady does it" attitude and plod on.  Opportunity has its own schedule.  All I have to do is recognize it when it shows up.

5.  You can't build an art career all by yourself.

Stand on the shoulders of the Masters - your contemporaries - friends - family - anyone that understands and supports your dream.

6.  What you do is not who you are.

Making paintings is something you do.  It has nothing to do with defining who you are. Who you are is determined by whether or not you do what you do with integrity and grit and fully appreciate the gift of dancing to the beat of your own drum.  

What things have you learned or should I say "un"learned since beginning your art career.  Anything you can pass on to help the rest of us?  (see #5).  



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