Tip Share :: Dealing with Disappointment

A couple weeks ago, I finally did something that I’ve never done before: I applied to my very first craft show. I was a nervous wreck, and the amount of prep work I envisioned was exciting, but daunting. So, I did it, I ignored that whiny voice and applied.

Well, yesterday, I found out I didn’t get in.

I don’t believe that I posted that I was applying here, mostly because if I didn’t get in, I didn’t want to feel embarrassed with that failure out there forever. If I didn’t say anything, it could remain private and I could forget about it. But I thought about it, and decided, you know what, I’m going to share this. This is important for artists to know.

At some point in your artistic and business journey, you’re going to have to face disappointment. And really, that goes for life, too.

As sucky as it is, this is inevitable. Every artist goes through it. It’s not uncommon, you aren’t alone. The important thing here is not that you didn’t succeed, but that you keep going.

Art school was great because it taught me two things: how to make art (duh) and how to have thick skin. Really, really thick skin. Art students learn fast how to literally stand up and take criticism, to do it with at least a calm face on. To not only listen to a professor rip apart what you did, but to actively hear what they are saying, take their advice to heart, and improve what you’re doing.

Now, I’m not saying that the organizers were rude or mean or offered criticism; if nothing else, it was the best rejection letter I ever got in terms of politeness and letting me down easy (seriously, whoever they’ve got writing the rejection letters, kudos!). I barely felt the disappointment, but it was still there.

And you know what? That’s okay.

I moped for a few minutes, then realized it was a blessing. My fall schedule is so busy, and I hate feeling a ton of pressure to perform (hello, nervous breakdown, would you like to come in?). Since this would have been my first craft show, I would have had to invest a lot of money in displays and packaging and signage and supplies just to prep for it. Not that I couldn’t figure out (I always do – remember how awesome my dad is?), but after the disappointment faded away, I realized I felt relief. Relief? Why relief? Because deep down, I’m just not mentally ready to do a craft show yet. And that’s okay, too.

Hope print by inkdesigner

So, if you face a disappointment in your life, here’s what I’d do:

  • Indulge yourself for a little while (a.k.a. mope. It’s okay, you’re allowed a few minutes of mope time). Surround yourself with things and people you love and care for. Give yourself a cookie, then…
  • Shake it off. It happens to everyone, no joke. So, just keep on doing what you do as you regroup.
  • Look back and analyze the situation objectively. Be your own art professor – what could you have done better? There’s always something to improve on. If it really was an objective decision on the organizers’ part, then brainstorm displays and budgets and designs anyway. It’ll help next time.
  • Keep looking for a new opportunity. I’m looking at other shows I could do next Spring or Summer, and I might just volunteer for the show I didn’t get into this fall. 

How about you? How do you deal with disappointment?

P.S. Did you know there are only 2 search pages of results for “disappointment” on Etsy, but 174 search result pages for “hope”? True story.

15 Responses to Tip Share :: Dealing with Disappointment

  1. That's a great post. Thanks for sharing.
    I usually hide my disappointment. Which means once it fills up my cup some poor sucker gets it all thrown into his face. Usually (and luckily) it's my cats and they don't care, but they are trained comfort experts 😉
    Then I start thinking about it, really thinking what I can do about it and if I need to do something about it at all.

    That sounds weird even to myself …

  2. I kind of do what you listed, having gone to art school as well, I kind of miss the "constructive" tearing apart. 🙂

  3. I've been "not accepted" for several shows and beacause of that started feeling that maybe my jewelry wasn't interesting or funky enough, or (on and on, …) It's tough sometimes to have a thick skin and realize not everyone is "into" your work. I am trying to apply for more and hopefully will be accepted soon myself. Thanks for sharing your feelings on this subject.

  4. What a great post – honest, authentic and real. I like that – it can be soooo easy to think that this creative biz stuff can be all about successes!!! I dearly wish I'd gone to Art College and developed that thick skin you talk about! Thank you for your wise words.
    Hugs xxx

  5. Well said! And I laughed at the part of remembering professors tearing your work apart and THAT'S exactly where you learn to have really, really thick skin. It was all for my benefit and I am grateful for it…now. Best thing to do is just get up, brush yourself off and move on. Where one door closes, another door always opens up.

  6. Great advice! I remember getting turned down from a big art show. I was bound and determined to get in, so I constantly worked on my pictures and focused on my product line. It may have taken me 4 years, but I finally got in and had the best time.

  7. I still say it's their loss and I think it was quite brave of you just to apply. I wouldn't even get that far, I am in no position to do shows right now.

    I love that you shared this. You always have great tips, too.

  8. Hey, I've been rejected from the same show 5 times. Yes, you heard me right. Five times. I finally stopped applying, realizing that it was not the quality of my work, but some other factors at play.

    And I moped (a lot) the first 3 times. I laughed the 4th and 5th time.

    Kudos to you for moving on quicker than I did.

  9. thanks for sharing, we all encounter something of this kind at one point or another..

    i deal with disappointment by sitting outside with my dogs, having a good think what i might have done differently..then getting on with the day…
    craft show selections are about the jury,who is it looking at the photos, which flash by getting only a couple of seconds each to make the cut…and the photos..and sometimes the work itself..
    if you feel your work and the photos of it are in line with the rest of the work submitted and you don't get in..don't worry about it, just keep moving forward with your work.

  10. You ladies are all amazing! I'm glad, as always, to help in some way. I'm also glad that I posted about a disappointment, because you're right – running a business and doing creative work is not always about success.

    Thanks for commenting!

  11. Thank you so much for this post! I am a true believer everything happens for a reason. Love your positive attitude.

  12. Brandi, I'm so glad you could shake this disappointment off quite easily – and look on the bright side.

    It's true that there's so much rejection and disappointment connected with being an artist that you really need to develop a thick skin! I'm so glad you brought this up in a time when we hear so much about how easy everything is when you "do what you love"… What I mean is that even doing what you love, can involve some harder aspects that simply aren't talked about so much.

    Thanks for a great post!

  13. Great post! I think this applies not just to rejection in the art world but to every aspect of life. It makes no sense to ponder the rejection and hold on to it, but to shake it off and move on to the next possibility. Good luck with your next application!
    Bead Happy!