Updated: Jun 3
Has anyone ever discouraged you with words of negative feedback and/or out-right rejection of you or your art? I would say it happens to most artists, but you can overcome the rejection. You can turn those negative sentiments into something constructive. It is all about your perception, how you view yourself, life, and your calling.
The first question you may ask yourself when receiving negative feedback or rejection is: Does the person giving it have any credibility? Is the person offering feedback trying to hurt or help? Do they have a higher art education? Are they a professional critic or overzealous art lover, that believe they know it all and never had any actual success themselves?
Another question to ask is: Is the person offering the feedback speaking sincerely and honestly? Sometimes rejection can be neutral and subjective, as well as rude or unfeeling. When rejection is delivered in a rude or unproductive manner, it can really be unhelpful. It is at those times that will make you wonder if the person is jealous, simply a negative person, and does not have your best interests in mind. Conversely, good feedback results in growth as an artist – both technically and creatively. It can result in clarity, new ideas, a positive creativity, and will challenge you to think more critically about your own art process, materials, and art career path.
Here is a list of some of the negative things said to me, through the years.
Why do you always draw people at the same angle?
Your art looks so vintage, like when my grandma was young. How old are you?
Some of your art is boring. I hope that doesn’t hurt your feelings.
How did someone like you get an art education, no less a masters degree?
I don’t believe that someone like you, created these pieces.
I don’t like your illustrations, just your painterly ones. They just aren’t that good.
Color pencil is not an artist material, maybe for a child. Hahaha! Is that why you use it?
In case you didn’t know, Illustrations are not art.
Why would you want to create and sell art? You are like, my mother’s age.
I don’t know anything about art, but I know I don’t like your art.
Some of those opinions might be stinging for a moment, but then reality sets in. All of those comments were coming from various people, with various perceptions, ages, backgrounds and experiences and taste. Maybe they never had an art class to understand that illustration is a legitimate fine art form or maybe they are color blind or having a bad day or they like sculpture or some other art form or style is preferred. They could also have an aware bias. Maybe they are jealous and you are living their dream! For whatever reason, their conclusion about you, your artwork and your career belongs to them and can be subjective. Take it or leave it.
I will often tell myself, after something hurtful like this is stated, "It is none of my business what this person thinks of me or my art. What is my business is being professional, loving and kind to them." Your response does not have to be match the toxicity that their statements are trying to create. What might be a great idea before interacting with the public and putting your artwork out there to view, is to brain storm how you might avoid having a toxic response. You could smile, divert the conversation, change the topic, literally thank them for their opinion or a number of other options. Shake off their opinion and move forward. If you give a response back that is more emotional and reactive, you may have more of an issue moving forward and letting it go. Don't get stuck. There are more people that want your art and they need you to be in the right state of mind for their benefit.
For the Christian artist, how do you think God would have you respond? Would he want you to worry and fret or get angry and have an outburst or completely turn your back on the calling He has for you or slink away in self contempt? Artist of faith, you are called to respond in a manner, illustrating Christ likeness in and through you. We are not called to act as the world acts, we are called to be slow to speak and anger and expect some level of rejection. Keeping in mind that we are called to lean into God with our hurts, we are told to pray and take all our cares to God. Below are some corresponding bible verses that may be an encouragement to you when contemplating the subject of rejection.
2 Timothy 2:23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.
John 15:18-19 If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me first. If you were of the world, it would love you as its own. Instead, the world hates you, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.
2 Thessalonians 5:14-18. And we urge you, brothers, to admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, and be patient with everyone. Make sure that no one repays evil for evil. Always pursue what is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice at all times. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Ultimately, for the creative of faith, the bible helps you define what your motivation for your art material, style and career path might be. You can thrive in spite of negative feedback and rejection, while you remember Jesus was rejected in his calling and you might be discouraged in your own. It is part of being in the kingdom.
Remember artist, you are not a lone. Rejection happens to us all. Don’t give up! Be encouraged and keep on creating. I hope you have a creative and encouraging day!
Art to me is a God-given gift of good storytelling, that can leave the world a more beautiful, kinder, and hopeful place.
- Jennifer Lueders, Artist and Storyteller