Criticism, Rejection

Another False Tale About Rejection and Criticism

I’ve been staying on top of the Art World advice, today I read an article about handling rejection and criticism.  Although the article I read today did appear to give some good advice, at the same time it did not empower an artist with tools to handle the upsetting situations when encountered.

Here’s a brief summary of points from the article that include more helpful information from myself:

  • The article: The works that artists create are not a job and not a product, it’s a part of you.  My viewpoint: This may have some truth in it, but truly, the art works are a communication from the artist* to the world.  If an artist had a certainty level that his communication arrived as intended then he would have a good foundation of certainty as a tool against the ones that rip and shred.
  • The article:  It takes courage to face up to rejection and criticism and keep going.  My viewpoint: Artists do not have to learn how to take it and push forward; that’s not being cause over one’s destiny – it’s being the effect of what others do.  Have you ever seen anyone do good as the one being bullied?  It’s only when the victim of bullying works out a way to handle it, in other words be at cause over it, that it stops.  What needs to be well-known is that artists are the ones in the forefront of advances in our culture.  Artists deserve respect.  Take a look at the inventions of the artist Leonardo di Vinci.  And, read the books of the first Sci-Fi writers only to find that in later decades their ideas became a reality.  If you have as a firm reality that your art, ideas and inventions are valid then there’s a firm foundation of certainty to operate on.
  • The article: Realize that rejection is normal.  Even the best of the best get rejected.  My viewpoint: There’s nothing even remotely normal about rejection! Why stand for it?  I have never seen anyone – whether artist or child being bullied – that should take abuse whether it’s physical or verbal.  Respect of one another should instead be taught.  If a rejection absolutely needs to be done and there’s no other way around it, first the precise reason why should be given without embellishments and then the good points should be pointed out.  What would happen if every artist that received a rejection, especially one that was mean and cruel, sent back a letter of correction to the person giving the rejection?  “Dear Sir, it’s not okay to be cruel to another person, whether an artist or not…”
  • The article: Get used to it.  In a way it’s a good thing that rejection hurts.  (- the data used in this section of the article was from psychologists.)  My viewpoint: #1. Stand up for yourself and demand respect.  Let people know it’s not okay to be cruel.  #2. Psychology is a dying career because of the abuses of Human Rights.  Here’s some Quick Facts about Psychiatry.
  • The article: Criticism is part of the price you pay for success.  My viewpoint: NO CRITICISM ALLOWED.  Fortunately, my mentor, Ralph E. Grimes, was of the old school of “Validate the Rightness.” (MFA Columbia University late 1940’s)  My first drawings and paintings had both good and bad points.  Ralph never, ever criticized the bad – as a matter of fact, he never said a word about the things done wrong.  He only mentioned the good things and how correct it was.  By doing so, my artworks improved by leaps and bounds.  After a few years, I asked Ralph what he was doing because my art just kept improving.  This is what he told me: “If you point out the things that are done wrong, you put attention onto fixing the bad and get more mistakes; if you  point out the things that are done well, you put attention onto the good.  If the focus is on the good, then you see more and more improvement.”  I have used this method when mentoring other artists and have only seen improvement.  I’ve never seen an artist give up or feel that it’s hopeless when being validated for the good points.  On the other side, I have seen artists, writers, poets, and more give up in utter frustration because of the other method of pointing out the wrong-nesses in their work…and I had to repair that in order to get the artist creating again.   Amazingly enough, validating the good worked every time.

I realize that there are many people that want to help artists.  I certainly don’t want to crush the help that is given.  My point in this article is that artists should not settle for the criticism and rejections but instead should be empowered with a “tool kit” on handling the negativity that comes their way.



* Please note that when I use the word “artist,” I mean a creative and talented person in any of the forms of art, writing and performing arts.


3 thoughts on “Another False Tale About Rejection and Criticism

  1. Agreed. But I think Rejection usually refers to situations where there are submissions for something and not all can be accepted, and they are, perhaps, juried events. I have one rejection that I kept and pinned up. When I feel I’m ready to apply to more contests, etc, I’m going to collect the rejections!
    I also feel it’s also helpful to point out the biggest sore spots (just a few at most) so the artist can learn what are liabilities to a well done work.

    1. You’re right, Stephen. Rejection usually refers to submissions. However, rejections that include tearing up the artist are not okay. I’ve never seen a single artist do better by having others point out the bad in art or anything. On the other hand, I have seen artists flourish when told about the good in their works.

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