Monday, June 28, 2010

Rejection = Not so bad = Try again next time

Like most of us, there have been times Monkey + Seal have been rejected. Many of these times, it's not the end of the world. Even if you have been rejected, there's nothing wrong with rejection as long as you are using these setbacks as learning experiences to better your chances next time.

Monkey really wanted some Academy of Art University recognition, and the annual Spring Show is the best of the best of all student work. It is a juried show, with a jury that consists of both Academy faculty as well as outside professionals. Monkey, when he first started at Academy, decided he wanted to win Best of Show at one of the Spring Shows. He would have three chances to make it.

The first year, he submitted a portrait of Seal rendered in charcoal. Looking back, there were a lot of small technical mistakes, and those slight mistakes are the difference between Spring Show material and good student work.

The second year, he submitted a bunch of illustrations, paintings, and a screenprinted multimedia sculptural work to the Fine Art and Illustration departments. Out of a total of 10 pieces submitted, he again didn't make it.

The third and final chance, he submitted seven illustrations, a screenprinted book, and three paintings. One illustration made it, and his screenprinted book made it as well.

Monkey considers himself to be fortunate that he got anything in such a highly competitive show, but at the same time, he failed at winning the highly coveted and prestigious Best of Show Award. And this was it. After graduating, there would be no more chances of making it into the show, as only students are allowed to compete.

Monkey could have gotten depressed about the fact the failure, but instead he realized that his style of painting would never win any awards in a school that promotes classical realism. After some retrospection, Monkey really wanted recognition from an authority figure - and AAU happened to be the most authoritative figure at the time. So, Monkey has revised his goal - he'd now much rather focus on being featured in Juxtapoz, which is much more of his style, rather than trying to get a school that promotes a non-Monkey style to fall in with him.

Seal was recently reading a blog entry about Aaron Hartline, Woody and Buzz (Toy Story) animator for Pixar.

"The day I saw Toy Story was the day I knew I wanted to work for Pixar. Well, it ended up taking me 14 years to get my dream job. For a long time, I had a board so full of rejection letters next to my desk that they were literally falling on the ground because the pins couldn't hold that many papers layered over each other. But after a mile long of rejection letters, many demo reels, interviews that didn't pan out, and countless hours in front of a computer working on the next thing that might get me into Pixar, I'm actually animating a Buzz and Woody." - Aaron Hartline, Animation Tips & Tricks.

Keep in mind that no matter how bad you think it is, there's always a second chance, and many more after that, whether you can see it or not. As an artist, you have to constantly try and try again - rejection and failure are unfortunately a part of the livelihood of an visual artist. The thing is, you can't take it personally and you can use these as learning experiences as ways to step up your game.

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