How do you deal with fear, failure or rejection?
It’s good to go into art knowing you’re going to fail way more than you succeed. That way, when you get a rejection letter it’s expected. You’ll get many and, this is common, I have a rejection portfolio. I’ve talked to my students about making a rejection resume where they write down what they failed at and why they failed. Don’t focus on the feeling but focus on what you can do better.
I think I had the best lesson when I lost that 7-story mural at the very last second. For really stupid reasons. That was a game changer for me and it didn’t happen. It was disappointing, but I’m so grateful it happened the way it did. I feel like you have to not only get comfortable with rejection, but excited about the idea of being able to handle shit. To develop a thick skin. It’s exciting to know you can get rejected without it breaking your heart. It opens up more opportunities because you try more, and, with the law of averages, you get more.
I’ve done a couple shows where I couldn’t even break even. Shows like that will break you emotionally and make you question if you should even continue making art. But I’ve taken it as a sign that I need to refine my art somehow, either tighten up my palette or my lifework or my style. It takes a little while to get over and put the plan into action.
Kids are always told, Don’t do this, don’t do that, don’t be angry, don’t be sad. All these don’ts instead of letting them be their perfect self, right? Their imperfections make them perfect, which goes back to the idea that I have as an artist.