My friend James applied to a local show at a gallery after meeting the gallery director more than once at openings.
He submitted work to the open call the gallery was having for a group show, and the drama began.
His friend and roommate also submitted work to the open call – and what started out as hopeful, promising, even probable, turned into a mess.
On the day he found out that he did not get into the show through the open call, he found out that his friend did get into the show. It was bad enough that he was rejected, but worse that his friend was accepted, because he felt that the friends work was poorly done and amateurish while his work was more accomplished, sincere and relevant.
His sense of rejection turned to anger, then to jealousy, and then to conspiracy – maybe his friend and the director knew this and were talking behind his back? Maybe the director thought his friend was more charming and funny and gave him the show based on his personality – or maybe there is something else…
Those thoughts turn to something darker – “this is useless, impossible, the odds are stacked against me somehow.”
If we are being really honest, he was also thinking:
“Well, maybe I don’t look good enough, I’m fat, my clothes aren’t hip, I’m getting older, I didn’t go to a trending MFA program…”
What effect does this begin to have on him?
His career can’t move forward because he does not have a show. He has stopped believing in himself, and because his confidence is taking a hit, he doubts it will ever happen, and a nagging thought is generated – the art world is unfair, perhaps rigged, and now rejection feels like drowning in a cruel sea.
What he did next is something anyone can do in this situation:
He retooled this rejection, this failure, this takedown, into a comeback strategy. It is a time honored technique, actors use it, entertainers use it, politicians use it, all after terrible reviews and worse, you know those stories.
In his case, his comeback strategy didn’t get the next group show he applied to…
He actually got a solo show and then a major purchase by a good collector!
With that boost of confidence he had the strength to apply to more exhibits and reach out to curators. The negative self-talk changed, now he no longer felt that all was unfair or rigged, or that he was somehow less then the artists in the show he was rejected from. His attitude changed completely.
What is a comeback strategy for an artist?
It is fairly simple and straight-forward and you can use it for similar situations.
This is what a comeback strategy is composed of;
1. Apply to more shows
2. Reach out to curators by email and have meetings
3. Rewrite your statement and bio
Sounds simple doesn’t it? It takes guts to make a comeback strategy and the support of friends is a big help too. If you are in need of a comeback strategy follow those three steps.
If you want support from me in terms of editing your new bio and statement as well as feedback on your presentation and strategy to refresh and reboot your presence in the art world, then consider joining my membership classes. Because that is exactly what they are designed for – and you will meet a supportive group of artists as well as other teachers who will give you support and feedback as well.
You will get professional editors working on your bio and statement and a New York gallerist will also give you feedback if you have questions, and there are more expert teachers on topics like grant writing and proposing parers to international biennials and more resources to give you the needed reboot or support for your comeback, and it is all for just $40 a month.