A few weeks ago, I submitted a seven-piece portfolio to a juried show. It was my first attempt at jury submission. It failed.
After I finished blubbering and sketched myself a sad squid, I started looking objectively at the situation. Had I simply been rejected, I may not have asked why. But they mistakenly sent me two e-mails; the first one said “Congratulations, you’ve been accepted!” and the second, which came the next day, said “Sorry, but you have not been selected.” Shortly afterward, the art director sent another e-mail explaining the mix-up and told me the “reject” e-mail was the correct one.
I was fairly mad, considering the “accept” e-mail came first. I slept on it, and finally decided to write the director about the situation. I politely expressed indignation about the fiasco, and I also asked if the jury had any comments. I really wanted some insight about why I was rejected.
They were nice enough, and came back with this: “Your work is inventive but lacks focus.” That one line, that short sentence, says so much. I had selected a variety of styles to show the jury my versatility.
Turns out, the majority of juries, galleries, and buyers want consistency rather than variety. Think about it from a buyer’s standpoint: you want to be able to sum up the artist’s style in a few seconds by looking at a wall of their art.
I am still learning and exploring with styles, mediums, supports… everything! Because I’m still new to painting, I don’t know what I want to focus on. I have so many interests that it’s painful to pick just one area. But I have to if I want to become a serious artist. It just feels too soon! I don’t want to limit myself when I hardly know anything and have oodles still to learn. Does anyone else feel that conflict?
I learned a bunch from my rejection. The lesson this week: use your failures to evaluate yourself and improve your art. It’s tough, but it’s worth it. I was back to my normal self in no time, and wiser to boot.