Jody Noelle Coughlin Art Blog
Don't be afraid of a little rejection. It'll do you good to know you're not wanted. Trust me!
I tried a little experiment this month. I decided it was time to throw down the gauntlet (or whatever) and approach a few galleries in hopes that I might gain representation. I had been wanting to do this for a while now. Well, to be honest, I've been wanting to do this since I started painting, but I've known all along the timing wasn't right. In fact, it wasn't even in the ball-park of being right. Obviously. That was about six years ago when I first started painting.
I wanted it all at first! I wanted shows and popularity and fame and fortune. As naive as I was, I was ravenously competitive in the beginning. My first show occurred six months after I first picked up a paint brush. I managed to get an exhibit at the local library where they always have an artist of the month display. At the time, that was such a big deal to me. I'm still proud that I had the guts to show my work, six months into the whole enterprise. I made the front page of the entertainment section of the local newspaper. It was great!
But that was then. This is now.
Over time, I have managed to gain a few comrades on the local gallery front, but as any artist knows, the feeling of stagnation is uncomfortable and I've felt that feeling a lot lately and I don't like it. So, I decided it was time to branch out. I just had to try.
I approached six different art galleries altogether and of all of them, four replied in the form of a rejection and two never bothered to get back to me. Have no fear though, the rejection did not bother me as much now as it would have in the past. In fact, I expected it. I know I'm not ready. I'm just not there yet, but I wanted to try to prove to myself that I could. I could at least try. Sometimes that is all you really need anyway. Sometimes you've got to look the fear of rejection in the face and give it the finger, metaphorically speaking of course.
A friend of mine advised me that galleries like to see a dozen or more paintings with some form of commonality within the artist's repertoire before they consider taking the artist on. Well, right there I knew I was sunk. I don't adhere to a common theme. I just do what I want. I've yet to discover my own unique process and if I had to declare my artistic voice, I would have to say it's loud, indecisive and consistently inconsistent. Not exactly what a gallery owner wants in their artists, I'm sure.
Even with all of that in mind, I'm fairly sure I am still okay. If I've learned anything over the years it's that the learning never stops. You can learn from failure and rejection. You can look at the work of other artist who have gained representation to see how your work measures up in comparison. Then, you can try to shrink that gap. Sort it all out. Work harder. Do better.
Or you can put all of that out of your mind and just do your own thing and enjoy yourself and look at the idea again in the future, when you know more about the world around you.
I think we all know what option I've decided to go with.
I've decided that I am in no hurry. I really don't think an artist should skip those precious steps that are so vital to the learning process. I think, in time, my work will temper itself and maybe there will be a cohesiveness to it all. Right now, there isn't. I'm sure there are other factors galleries take into consideration when taking on new artists. The economy might be a huge factor right now and so on.
What I am taking away from the experience is the knowledge that I'm not ready to adhere to any hard and fast rules yet and I suspect it shows in my work. I also suspect the trained eye of a curator sees that too. I'll trust their judgement and give the whole idea the benefit of the doubt and I'll just keep doing what I am doing.
As they say, it's a journey not a destination. I don't want fame and fortune anymore. I just want to wake up in the morning and know that somewhere along the way on any given day, I'll be able to paint. That truly is what it's all about.