Sunday, March 14, 2010

Art as Business: Rejections and Disappointments

"Let me tell you something you already know.
The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows.
It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.
You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!
Now if you know what you're worth then go out and get what you're worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain't you! You're better than that!"

"Rocky Balboa" 2006

Did you know that they say that only 13% of the Fine Art Graduates in Sweden will be working as artists 10 years after graduating? (and I don't think this goes just for Sweden) And then there are all those who just studied art at lower levels but also strived to become artists...

Being talented isn't enough.
Being lucky doesn't happen to many people.
No - to really be able to make it as an artists, you should know - or learn - how to handle rejections, failures and disappointments. You shouldn't just endure. You should considered it lessons learned and move on - not collect the disappointments and maltreatment. I know of many artists getting bitter and loosing the glimpse in their eye because they think they have suffered so much, that they have fought so hard.



So what are my recent Rejections and Disappointments?
[Yes, I know you shouldn't let people know about your failures. But I have this rebellious trait: I will do it anyway!]

Not Any Progress Report

- rejections (since September): 5 exhibitions, 4 scholarships, 1 membership

-The tenant Owner's Association's board postponed their decision on the enamel commission until mid April. This isn't good - they might be having second thoughts. But even if they aren't - this means I can not make the enamles until June (because of the delivering times for some of the materials I will need and because 2 weeks working on a row at KKV isn't possible time wise in May). I will therefore at the very best get that income after summer vacations (not before as I had counted on) - worst case scenario: nada!

-Had to cancel one of my Screen printing workshops. Not enough people could take my workshop at the planned weekend. I have some people who are interested, but it is hard to find a weekend that works for enough people. I haven't given this one up. (I need the money if I don't get the enamel commission!) But in some way cancelling the workshops was good - I would have totally overworked in March if the workshop had taken place...

- A possible gigantic Public Commission for a Municiple lead to nothing. Before Christmas I went to a meeting with three project leaders for a new School project (3 schools) in a municipal close to Gothenburg. I got very excited, but in a way also disappointed - when I learned that the project would mean commissioned art for around 200 000 Euros (1 % of the construction and renovation costs). (if it had been a smaller commission it would have been much more likely for me to get it) They were interested in me leading the project as an artist and involving other artists. This was of course very flattering. But on the other hand I doubted the Municipal's Cultural department would allow it to be handled like that (a concern I also expressed to them, but they said the cultural department normally didn't care) - normally an experienced art consultant will do that job.
Anyway they asked if I wanted to write a short text with ideas about what kind of art would be possible related to the new schools profiles and preferably interactive and involving the children... Something they could use to sell me in for the project. Nothing fancy, just some ideas - absolutely no sketches. And they couldn't promise me anything. "Don't put too much time on it..."

Normally I shouldn't accept doing this kind of things without a fee, but it was a too great opportunity to miss out on. And of course I put some time on it (Let's say I was only present physically at family gatherings during Christmas...).

Of course the cultural department wanted to involve the State Art Council into the project as it would mean that they put extra money into the project - which would go to their chosen project leader and Art Consultant. And I didn't even get a polite formal "thanks for your great job. We will keep you in mind for another project".

Honestly I haven't given this disappointment much thought since I got that mail in February. (But of course I was really pissed off that week). To repeat Rocky's words:

"Now if you know what you're worth then go out and get what you're worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain't you! You're better than that!"

In my Next Sunday post I will share my strategies for handling these kind of disappointments: the outer body experience/the Edith Piaf/my voodoo way/ostrich.

10 comments:

Veja cecilia said...

ja, motgångarna haglar ibland. men sen kommer medvinden! tänk att de inte fattar vad de missar!

aimee said...

WOW. this is so well written, alexandra. this is a subject that scares lots of people away - they would rather not think about failure, let alone write about it. it's painful. so the fact that you are confronting it head-on here weakens that demon of failure/disappointment for you, because basically what you're saying is "i'm not afraid, bring it on." it's a very disarming approach. i'm impressed, and quite frankly, i find this post very inspiring!

●• Thereza said...

a brilliantly honest and well written post... just confirmed, once again, you're my superhero girl!

... and i knew Rocky Balboa was right all along

nathalie et cetera said...

wow! je te lève mon chapeau Alexandra! ton honnêteté est toujours rafraîchissante. C'est vrai que le rejet est difficile. J'ai travaillé sur trois offres de service dernièrement et elles ont toutes été refusées. Beaucoup d'heures pour pas grand chose. Mais comme Rocky, on relève nos manches et on continue, on fonce. J'entends même la musique :)
Bon courage ma chère!

nathalie et cetera said...

wow! je te lève mon chapeau Alexandra! ton honnêteté est toujours rafraîchissante. C'est vrai que le rejet est difficile. J'ai travaillé sur trois offres de service dernièrement et elles ont toutes été refusées. Beaucoup d'heures pour pas grand chose. Mais comme Rocky, on relève nos manches et on continue, on fonce. J'entends même la musique :)
Bon courage ma chère!

Momo Luna said...

Wow, thank you for posting this. Well written and inspiring as well. It gives me guts to go on.
The painting is awesome!!

Aris said...

you inspire me!!!
at least you go for things! I am still in the getting up gumption stage. Girl you've got gumption!!!!
And your honesty is so refreshing!

caramela said...

I am thankful again- what an important issue you've just tackled with grace,guts, brilliance, and humour! I am so looking forward to next Sunday!(especially the voodoo part!)
Annamaria

Anairam said...

Thanks for sharing with us ALexandra! Disappointments are a given in life - especially when you freelance like we do. One can put so much thought (and faith and hope!) into a project that comes to nothing. I was approached for quite a big project (according to my standards) before Christmas - I was SO excited - yippeee - some real money at last - but nothing has happened since - it makes it very difficult to plan other work projects, as you can imagine. Like Aimee and others, I am also impressed with your honesty about this issue, thank you! Although I am in such an unrelated field, I find there are so many commonalities when one works for oneself, marketing one's skill to the rest of the world ...

Alexandra Hedberg said...

I'm so happy you like my honesty. It is always a bit scary before I post these things ... about my failures and weaknesses. But afterwards it feels great!

Thank you for your kind words!