I think it’s quite fitting to write this blog post after Valentine’s Day. Now’s the time to profit on all that discounted chocolate and move on. The theme of today’s entry is rejection and being told “No”. No does mean no and don’t do anything without a person’s consent. That rule never changes. The kind of reject I’m on about is being told no in the art world. I wrote a post on my personal Facebook page about being turned down from the BP Portrait Award and that’s okay. We all fail. What’s important is to keep going. Right now, I’d like to get into more detail and share with you more of what it’s like from my perspective being a young artist in the 21st century.
It’s easy to fill in the blanks that someone you follow or look up to has it all. I can tell you that isn’t the truth. Yes, I’m very fortunate and opened my own atelier at 26 here in Paris, but it isn’t sunshine and lollipops. The truth is I’m told no on a daily basis from everyone. From magazines, galleries, and all the way to the tiniest blogs for a feature. My inbox is 99.5% rejection emails and the rest is from Nigerian princes asking me to move money around for them. Being turned down is normal, but I do want to tell you it gets to me. That’s going to happen at some point. One of the most difficult challenges of being an artist outside of an academic environment is trusting yourself. Reading “Sorry, your work isn’t what we are interested in. Hope you develop more in the future” over and over again does begin to fuck with you. Of course I’m still growing and I can’t wait to see where I am in a year from now, but I’d be a liar if I said I never had moments I sat in my gallery wondering if I’m any good. Preventing myself from wanting to just tear down everything I’ve made and start over. I get beyond knee deep in shit moods and that’s fine as long as you can get out of them.
The art world isn’t what it used to be a few decades ago. From my experience, curators don’t want to take risks and put their neck out for artists anymore. It’s so much more about brand building and making money that everything has gotten murky. We are always hearing in the news “This painting sold for x amount of millions”. When’s the last time we heard a gallery say “I believe in this artist and their work” as a headline? Part of my interviews consist of “how many followers do you have?” and “what’s your going price for a painting?”. No professional in the field has asked me why I create or where are the origins of my inspiration. You feel like you’re being filed into a category and my work doesn’t fit. There’s a reason why I only admire the dead artists considering the current structure of the art world.
With all that said,I still get up every morning and go to work. That brush is always in my hand and make things. Maybe in your field you’ve felt the same way. It’s not easy but don’t let them get to you. I try to pay them no mind , but then again my favourite book is The Count of Monte Cristo so it wouldn’t be the truth if I told you I haven’t plotted ridiculously extra vengeance schemes. What matters here is that you don’t stop. I give myself a total of 15 minutes to be absolutely shitty and pathetic, but then I get back on my feet. There’s a reason why I opened my own gallery so I don’t have to wait for people’s approval. The world is going to have to catch up with me. I’m not going to wait till I have grey hairs on my balls before some gallery takes an interest in me.
Keep your chin up and keep your feet moving forward. I’ve always been the underdog ever since I picked up a paintbrush. Every time I became the best of my class, I entered a new level where I was back at 0. I just consider this a new level and every dog has his day.