In the last year and a half, I have attempted to dust off my resigned BFA and finally put all those years spent in the studios that I so willingly shelled out thousands of dollars for back to use. After six years of working in a corporate setting as a designer my long suppressed dream of participating in all the excitement and hubbub of the “art world” came back and bit me hard.
Here’s a little back story:
Initially upon graduation I think reality had already set in. I was going to need a steady income and I was going to have to come up with some way to get it. While college was great and provided me with numerous opportunities to explore various methods of expression and craft, I really left with no idea where to start. How does one go about finding a gallery? Is that where we’re supposed to start? Or should I get an agent? What do I need to have with me if I meet with someone? How should I dress? Before I knew it, I was way ahead of myself and I hadn’t even removed my graduation robe. Paralyzed by intimidation, I was convinced that I was the only one out there who would look foolish trying to make a dent. And so, rather than put myself through all of that, after a few feeble and misguided attempts, I resigned myself to life as a designer.
Hey, it paid well. I managed to pay off most of my student loans and picked up some very handy and useful skills along the way. After a while though, climbing the ranks towards someone else’s personal/corporate goal just wasn’t motivating any more. It didn’t help that the company I was working for was slowly going the way of many Dotcoms from the late 90’s and there was little work in the office to keep one busy. Watching the clock became painful, and in an attempt to help the hours creep by just a little quicker I started to dip my toes back in.
This is not to say that I completely avoided artwork entirely from 1998 on. But, I completed my final grand painting “I Quit” in the summer of 1998 and as far as art-art is concerned, I had retired that side of me.
In the late winter/early spring of 2004 I started to paint again. Finally I had something to say… I had experiences from the previous 6+ years that I could look back on with a new perspective. The work flowed and soon I was painting nearly every day. That summer I had my first show at a local gallery in the historic downtown area of Lansing. It wasn’t a huge venue by any means, but it was just what I needed to keep pushing. Shortly after I found a gallery in a nearby town that wanted to take me on, and my work was accepted into two other exhibits, this time in NY State.
What changed? I was no longer so worried about what “adults” would think. Here I was in my late 20’s now, I had learned a lot about people of authority. I learned that for the most part, they are as human as you or I. They weren’t scary at all. I also relied a lot on the wealth of literature available online via bookstores and community boards out there that offers artists a plethora of information, tips, and experiences to learn from. Why try to invent the wheel all over again? Learn how others have made the wheel and see if you can’t make your own wheel from what you learned?
So here I am, a year and a half later, hopefully a little wiser. I’m trying to branch out more. I’ve moved to a new town and I’m starting all over again. Using the philosophy that with some good research, a little luck (being in the right spot at the right time), and some serious commitment to my efforts, I’m hoping to get an exhibition (beyond juried shows) and possibly some representation. I’ll be documenting my steps along the way along with the results.
And so, we come to the name of the blog, My Rejection Letters. I plan to share these with everyone as well. We need to learn to expect them and not feel as though they are personal attacks. Sometimes we’re just not what the gallery is looking for at that moment, the gallery might be full and have no room for new artists, or perhaps your research was off. Whatever the reason, you cannot be sensitive about it, you cannot take it to heart as an attack on your voice as an artist. You gotta dust yourself off, get back up and move on.