Tuesday, March 24, 2009


It happens to every artist, multiple times throughout their career.

The dreaded rejection letter.

At this point I feel fairly immune to the effects of receiving one. I've trained myself to expect it only because then it doesn't hurt at all -- not to mention that when I get a positive response, it feels that much better, too. But I must admit, it does sting a little bit, no matter how well I train myself otherwise.

In January I sent out maybe a dozen packets to be considered for shows at various galleries. Most were responses to open calls at galleries throughout New York state and New England. I have yet to hear from almost all of them, but yesterday brought my first rejection letter from the batch.

It wasn't a terrible letter; I am gleaning a little hope from it. It said that the gallery welcomed future proposals and that if I had any questions to please feel free to contact them.

And, you know, I think I might, eventually. I'll certainly send out another, more well-thought out packet. Some of the things I know were not quite right with that batch of packets was including images of work that doesn't quite all go together (i.e. I included my collage work and my paintings, both figurative and houses -- confusing, no doubt!), and maybe my cover letter was too long and personal? Probably, knowing how verbose and squishy I can be sometimes. And maybe a shorter form of my resume would be a better choice.

I chalk it up to learning. Making mistakes, taking missteps, but also taking care to not repeat them and move forward. It's OK.

I've got to keep submitting proposals, sending packets, refining my presentation, and most important: making new work.

A Supposed Day Like Any Other, acrylic on canvas, 2009.


Lily P. said...

You're brave. I still get upset with some of them, no matter how many times I've done it... but the important thing is to keep trying, always keep improving the work and the presentation of it... [and ask your friends to look things over from time to time]... :)

Amy Greenan said...

Aha! I get the last part. It's a good suggestion, as I tend to shy away from sharing much of what I do behind the scenes with anyone, partly out of potential embarrassment, partly laziness, I guess. Maybe we can get together for art night soon? Or I can send you my written stuff to look over? And vice versa. :)

I'm not really brave, I just try to look that way. ;)

andrew said...

Hey at least you're keeping at it! I haven't sent out packets since I finished grad school, got my rejection letters or no comment and left it at that. I think the most important thing is to keep doing it.

What was Reinhard used to say? 1 acceptance for every 20 rejections was good!!

Amy Greenan said...

Andrew! It is awesome to hear from you. I hope you're doing well. Should I send stuff to Bemis, or what? (ha ha, just kidding.)

I think Reinhard is right, though... 1 out of 20 is probably super good, actually. I guess that means I need to send out a few more, and maybe I'll get a yes.

sarahfburns said...

It's so hard to know how to proceed as a new artist! I'm in the same boat. I've found this website interesting - www.artbusiness.com . His advice is to get your art seen by as many people as possible, and that there is a ladder we all have to climb, we don't get "there" overnight. You're on your way, so keep going!

r garriott said...

Happens to all of us. You're very right in that we have to keep going through the motions. And always remember, that just because any particular place doesn't accept, you, it's no reflection on your work. Finding galleries that are a good fit for both you (and them) can take time and effort.

This painting is just gorgeous, by the way. I wish you good luck!

geschichtenvonkat said...

best of luck, i have been an art/art history student myself and i think your work is brilliant. i can't help but think of hopper's cape cod landscapes when i see your houses.
i myself am struggling to break into art museum work but it is such an elite world! i was given some hope when i had a chance to talk to a curator at the smithsonian's museum of women in the arts...she said that in the course of getting to her current job she'd received enough rejection letters to wallpaper her house! It's difficult but i try to remember that when i get ones back from museums and grad schools—no one gets to wear they are without having a stack of them somewhere ;) at least you're putting yourself out there, that's half the battle!

Amy Greenan said...

Sarah: Thanks for the website suggestion. I will check it out!

R: Thank you for the kind words and encouragement to move forward. I think you are totally right.

Kat: Wow. Hopper? Thank you!

The museum world is tough to break into, so I hear. It's too bad, I probably would rather have taken that route (I would love to have been a registrar, I think!) than graphic design... not that I don't love design, just that I would rather be in the museum world in general. I will keep putting myself out there, and hope you will, too!