How to Handle Rejection of Your Art

By Kate Harper in Art Business Advice > General Art Advice

Let’s say you’ve decided to start a card business and you’ve been working on designs for six weeks. Your friends love them. Your mom loves them. Your coworkers love them. You think they’ll be hot sellers.

In your car, on the way to the printer, you decide to stop by the local card store to show them to Sally, the owner.

With a smile, you pull out your cards and wait for Sally’s reaction. . . but slowly, like a candle melting in Death Valley, you can see it in her face. . . she doesn’t like them.

Your heart hits the ground as she tells you what all the problems are, but you don’t hear anything because your stomach hurts, even though she continues to give you great advice for the next 10 minutes.

Rejection hurts.

You slowly wrap up the cards, put them back in your bag, and decide on the spot you want to go back to school and become a radiology technician.


REWIND this story. What happened here? This isn’t a story about rejection. This is a story about an artist who doesn’t know what to do when their designs are rejected.

Remember, rejection is not a bad thing. It’s a great opportunity to learn from an expert!

Most professionals in the card industry are happy to help artists who are willing to adjust and try new things. Ask “Sally” what your next step should be. Just like envelopes and paper are part of the card business, so is rejection.

Your goal in card design, is to get emotionally close to your customer. Rejection by a store can help you steer your art towards knowing your customer. Just make sure you never leave a meeting without a notebook full of advice. Find out WHY you were rejected. Otherwise, rejection will only be experienced as something negative.

And, in the story above, imagine what would’ve happened if the artist drove to the printer first, and not the card store. Not only would she experience rejection, but she also would have lost money by printing a poor design!

This artist was really smart to seek out professional advice, and not just limit it to family and friends.

I experienced many similar situations when I started my own business. My first two card lines were rejected, but I went on to try a third, a forth and a fifth, and a sixth, most of which were successful. Store buyers were even willing to meet with me after hours and help me.

The more I tried, the better things got—that’s the main key for dealing with rejection.

Read more at Kate Harper’s blog, including part 2 on dealing with rejection.


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