How to Deal With Rejection as a Fine Artist

Hello my art friend,

Today, we're going to tackle a sensitive topic for fine artists: how to handle rejection from galleries and shows or really from any opportunity that you were hoping to participate in. We've all been there, and it can be a real blow to your confidence. But remember, rejection is part of the journey, and it’s something that every artist experiences. 

First and foremost, when you’re really excited about a possible opportunity it’s important to acknowledge and process your emotions. Rejection can really hurt, and it’s okay to feel disappointed, frustrated, or even a bit discouraged. Allow yourself some time to feel all the feelings. Talk to a fellow artist or creative about how you’re feeling. Sometimes just sharing your experience can be incredibly helpful. Just make sure you pick someone who is truly supportive of your artistic pursuits. And remember, it’s perfectly normal to feel upset, and it’s a sign that you care deeply about your work and your future.

Second, you have to remember that rejection is not usually a reflection of your worth or talent as an artist. Galleries and shows have their own specific criteria and limitations, and sometimes your work might not fit their current needs. Galleries, in particular, are businesses with clients to serve. A gallery that has been around for decades and knows their client’s tastes can look at a piece of art and know immediately if their clients will be interested in it. If a gallery doesn’t think your work is a good fit for their clients that has nothing to do with its general value or appeal. That just means you need to find a gallery that is a better fit. I’ve also seen it where artists are rejected by galleries who already represent several artists who create similar work. They just simply might not need another artist in that genre. 

One of the best ways to turn rejection into a learning experience is to ask for constructive feedback. If possible, reach out to the gallery or show organizers and ask for their insights. What could you improve? Was there something specific they were looking for that you missed? Constructive criticism can be incredibly valuable and help you grow as an artist. But before you do this make sure you’re asking for feedback from someone you think will be kind and helpful. The art world has all kinds of people in it, and some of them are better at constructive criticism than others!

The next thing you should do is take some time to reflect on your submission. Analyze what worked and what didn’t. Did you follow all the submission guidelines? Were the photos of your art clean and clear and well-lit? Reflecting on these questions can help you identify areas for improvement. You can do this again after the show or event takes place and look at the artists who were accepted and see if you can identify anything about their submissions that as a whole that explain why your work wasn’t a good fit. Understanding this can help you identify better opportunities in the future.

Because rejection is part of the artistic journey, persistence and refinement is the key to success. Keep submitting your work to galleries and shows, and don’t let a few rejections deter you. Keep honing your skills to identify the right opportunities for your particular work. I like to keep a list of all the places and opportunities I’ve submitted my work, along with the outcomes. It helps me stay organized and reminds me that every “no” brings me closer to a “yes.”

So, if you’re finding consistent rejection from galleries or shows, remember that those are not the only opportunities that help build an artist’s career. Look for alternative spaces to showcase your work, such as local cafes, community centers, or online platforms. Sometimes, building your art business requires thinking outside the box. For example, my first “show” was an exhibit at our local city hall. And though it wasn’t set up for sales but just showing my work to all the friends and family that had been hearing me talk about painting for so long was really encouraging and gave me the courage to show my art more.

Building relationships within the art community can also help soften the sting of rejection. Attend art openings, network with other artists, and build community online. Sometimes, it’s about being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people. Developing a network of supportive peers can provide encouragement, valuable insights, and a peek at other opportunities you might not be aware of. I’ve found that many opportunities arise from these connections, often leading to unexpected collaborations and sales.

Lastly, know that rejection can sometimes be a catalyst for growth and innovation in your work. Use it as an opportunity to experiment with new techniques, themes, or mediums. Staying engaged with your creative process will keep you motivated and remind you why you fell in love with art in the first place. I’ve found that some of my best work has come after periods of disappointment, as it pushed me to explore new ideas and put my feelings into my work. Not to mention, the more confident you are in your work, the less you care if someone doesn’t like it or choose it.

All the best,


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

You may also like

View all
Example blog post
Example blog post
Example blog post