Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Con Game

Let’s begin with something simple, the Char-ity event coming up at the end of the month or October the Oneth to be correct. This is an un-juried event which means that you get to enter anything you like, providing it is within the limits of the prospectus and it will get shown. Now this is a very rare and a good thing and you should take advantage of it because it will bolster one of the most important and seldom mentioned qualities any artist needs to cultivate, confidence.

No not arrogance where anything you do is the best that was ever done and anyone who fails to understand that is a just a Philistine. Confidence is a feeling of well-being based on hard work, dedication to craft and a mastery of technique which produces superior art.

Do you have it?

This is a much more important question than you think. It affects almost everything you do.

When you approach a galley owner to get your works hung you must have confidence. When you speak with a gallery or museum director you must have confidence, when you speak to a newspaper or television reporter you must have confidence.

And kids like a shark they can smell blood in the water.

Confidence can be a gift. The rare and blessed few just have it. They come from the shell brining with confidence and know just what they want to create and just how to do it and just what it means to them and just what you should see when you view it and just the right way to express that to any non-artist listening.

Oh yeah, you do have to be able to express to the many who have no art in their souls just what it is that you do and why you do it and what they should get from it and why they should want to.  And you have to do that without making their eyes roll back in their heads and them losing the will to live.

So just how do you manage to find the right parents to be born with confidence? You don’t. For most of us you have to go out and earn it, borrow it, beg for it.

Now there are a lot of things you can do to start the ball rolling. Take Char-ity, no, the Char-ity show. It is an un-juried show, you don’t have to get passed a panel of experts, art critics, learned judges, you just have to enter.

Why would you enter an un-juried show? Because there’s no chance of being rejected. Com-on now admit it ever since that time way back in high school when you wanted a date for the Junior prom and the person you wanted was a complete jerk and not only shot you down but they did it in front of all of their pals and then told the whole school and you slunk into a hole and didn’t come out until your sophomore year at college. And all of that pain and shame and suffering was way before Facebook where the whole world can know of your rejection in less than a nanosecond and so you have never said a word to anyone in public except for the times you have been stopped by a traffic cop and had to answer questions and got a ticket anyway.

Rejection hurts. There just is no way around it and worse than that it undercuts your confidence. It steals away the courage you need to fight for the art you work so hard to create.

So an un-juried show is just the ticket. Try a few of them and see what it does for your self-confidence. The trick to overcoming any hurt is to do it again and again until you build up a callus. That rough patch of skin will keep the paper-cuts or rejection from making it through to the place where it can bleed away all of your courage and leave you shaking and damaged.

Yes, I do know. Anyone in any area of the creative arts has to develop calluses. Rejection is the one thing you can guarantee. Wanna experience real rejection? Try writing. You do it alone, without anyone to cheer for you, you submit it to markets where you only know the names of the acquisitions editor and you know that they are over-worked and under-paid and they want to reject you so they can go home, eat and fall asleep in front of the TV. Calluses, it’s the only way to survive.

Long before I got into the graphic arts I did a decade in the theater, both as a work actor and as a writer/producer. Now there’s rejection served up daily on a silver platter. The Talent as they call the lambs being led to the slaughter are herded in to a room where an harried assistant director takes a look and makes a decision on who will get to read base only on the looks of the sheep.

And even the pretty people have to go through it. You see there are hundreds of twenty year old blondes with good tans and bikini bodies and that makes a lot to choose from. Better to be an old ugly hunchback, there won’t be all that many roles but there won’t be all that many old, ugly hunchbacks to fight off either!

Doing the thing and being rejected many, many times is the only way to build up the calluses you need to armor your confidence. The pain never goes away but it does get less and less with each new rejection.

Then after years of being rejected one day you’ll get in and be surprised and honored and thrilled and pleased and the misery of building up all of that confidence will be worth it.

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