Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dealing With It

When I was a younger potter I used to take rejection as a challenge. I always assumed that it was a sign of something I wasn't doing -- something lacking in my work and/or vision -- and I would redouble my efforts to "fix" it.

As I've aged, I've lost some of that youthful optimism. Now I deal with rejection by setting what I hope will be ambitious but realistic goals -- some of those goals focused on the craft aspect of business, and some of those goals focused on the business aspects of my craft. In a business model with so much out of my control (juries, trends, weather, etc), I take some encouragement in what I can do -- what I can control.

I try not to find others to commisserate with. It's a horrible temptation to do so, but it tends to bury me deeper in discouragement. As comforting in the short term as it might feel, it just can't be a wise practice to find encouragement in the similar failings and discouragements of others.

And just when one finds comfort in those fellow sufferers, that's when they find their way out of that "slough of despond", leaving one even more discouraged.

Instead, I try to look to the successful and see what they may be doing differently. If it's something simple that I've overlooked, it will have been worth the learning. If it's something inherently "them" that could never be a part of me, I still try to see if there could be any correlation to my view of the world (sometimes worthwhile parallels aren't immediately obvious).

And, as in my youth, I try (though I find it harder now) to be willing to change. And change anything.

Good songwriters don't necessarily think of their songs as ever finished. That is -- even when a song is complete enough to be worthy of recording, it is still fodder for revision -- and each revision can be good, meaningful, vital.

I can sometimes get so entrenched in something that "works" on some level, that I fail to see that it's not "done" -- it's just another step on the long journey.

Discouragement is goal-oriented. Living is journey-oriented.

That's how I see it, anyway


  1. WOW! If your work is getting rejected there is no hope for any of us! I am very surprised that work like yours would be turned down for a crafts festival, it's so wonderful. Their loss :(

  2. I am an admirer of your work on so many levels,and just like Tracey, I'm more than a bit surprised that your work could be turned away. Have you sold well at this show in the past???

    PS the crosshatching on the plates is really really cool, especially the transition at the rim. Nice... Great photos too!

  3. That's very nice of both of you to say. Thanks.

    At this point it seems to be mostly other potters who read this blog. Because of that, I figure we're all up against the same wall of business aspects that are beyond our control -- like jurying for art fairs.

    And I sort of mused the blog post -- that as long as I was encouraging myself, I might as well share the thoughts in hopes that it might be encouraging to other potters.

    The jury rejection is a constant in this business. There's just no way around it. There are thousands of potters vying for the few pottery spaces at most of the good shows.

    This is just one of those weird years. It's just the randomness of life, but I've never received more rejections in the early part of the year than I have this year. And those rejections are happening with the same set of images that I used to enter last Fall's shows --- and I got into every one of those that I entered. That's life.

    The encouraging thing in years like this is that the pottery is still what matters most. For whatever reason, income is still more tied to how much pottery I can make -- an how excited I am about that pottery -- than it is tied to the shows I get into or rejected from.

    In fact, the talk at the better art fairs has been (for the last few years) that because of the ZAPP phenomenon and the flood of thousands of extra entries to all the shows, and the general economic downturn, more artists are choosing to stay with smaller and more local shows -- and finding that their bottom line is improving with the change.

    So there's always a silver lining.

  4. Gosh, you are a sage for potters. Thanks for sharing with us. I am one who has very few opportunities to speak to other potters because of where I have chosen to live, so blogs like yours are an asset to me.
    Thanks again

  5. They turned YOU down. I'm sorry but are they F-ing nuts??
    Your work is brilliant.

  6. Hey, thanks so much for the compliments!

  7. If it's any consolation, my daughter and two other kids that are three of the most brilliant kids/writers/musicians that I know were all nominated by their schools for Governor's School, quite an honor and none of them were accepted. Sort of the same thing, if these kids weren't accepted I can't imagine what the judges were looking for. Really makes me wonder about the quality of judges these days.....