Rejection is the sand in the oyster, the irritation that ultimately produces the pearl.”  Burke Wilkinson
If you’re following along with my overview of Jerry Saltz’s book How to Be an Artist, my last musing concerned entering the art world. Jerry’s fifth step in how to be an artist addresses surviving the art world, or as he puts it: “psychic strategies for dealing with the ugliness (inside and out).” Here are a few of his tips:
Make an enemy of envy. “Envy looks at others but blinds you. It will eat you alive as an artist; you’ll live in its service, always on the edge of a funk, dwelling on past slights, always seeing what other people have, scanning for other artists who are mentioned in some story instead of you. Envy distracts the mind, leaving less room for development and, most important, for honest self-criticism. It crowds your imagination with the lives of others, rather than what you need to be doing in your own work. ‘Poor me’ can’t make your work better, and you’re out of the game if you don’t show up. So grow a backbone and get back to work.”
Meet your deadlines. “Remember, your work is entirely voluntary — so procrastination is a self-harming habit. Deadlines are great for forcing the issue, concentrating your work, prompting unexpected epiphanies, and keeping you living under the psychological volcano. If you don’t have a deadline, set one for yourself. Many famous artists make their own one-day deadlines. Get it done. It’ll change your life.”
Learn to deal with rejection. “Accept that any piece of criticism might have a grain of truth to it — that something in your work allowed this critic to lower the boom. Take it in; don’t blow it out of proportion; then get back to work. Often you can learn more from the boos than from the applause, particularly if you’re brave enough to really think about them.”

About the Image
Between 1867 and 1880, Claude Monet had more paintings rejected than accepted in the annual exhibition at the Salon de Paris. In fact, eight were rejected and only two accepted. The works that were accepted were hung high in a corner. Repeatedly garnering more rejection than acceptance from the artistic elite, in 1873, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro and Sisley organized the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors and Engravers to exhibit their artworks independently. At their first exhibition, in April 1874, Monet exhibited the work that was to give the group its name. Impression, Sunrise was painted in 1872 and depicts the port of Le Havre, Monet's hometown. From the painting’s title, an art critic coined the term impressionism. Intended as disparagement, the Impressionists proudly appropriated the name.
Adapted from How to Be an Artist by Jerry Saltz
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