A “No” Blow to the Ego!

Did it hurt? No, of course not. (well, just a wee bit, maybe…)

Oh, the joys of waiting to hear if you got the “Call”. That’s what we artists refer to when we apply for a chance to get into a show, or to paint a mural, or design a sculpture, etc. It’s a process fraught with anxiety, not for the faint of heart. Not for the empty of pocket, either.

This last one did not cost me anything to apply to, which was good, because I did not get it. I am always disappointed when I don’t get in a show, it is a fact of life in the art world. I am becoming a bit cynical and jaded about this. I find myself making snide remarks(to myself) about favoritism and prejudice, and I don’t like this kind of negative thinking. On the one hand I think it’s just a self-soothing mechanism-if I say the process is unjust it means that my work really is the best. That I really should have been chosen.

Work in Progress for past 3 years!

I don’t think this is a good way for me to look at it. This kind of attitude will just make me negative about the whole process, the art community as a whole, and make me just as prejudiced as the people I am judging. Don’t think I’m saying what anyone else should think or feel, I just know how my quirky little mind works. My father spent his life feeling jaded and cynical about “the System”, and it reached the point where no one wanted to hear him go on about it.

I mean, just think about how the poison could seep into my art. If I’m second guessing the judges then maybe I will not try as hard, not push myself. Perhaps I’d rather not try, because they “don’t like me”. Or “they won’t pick me anyway.” Or “they only choose the society types”. If I let those thoughts in then my wings stay folded and I don’t try to fly, even when the cage door is open.

Fly birdie, fly!!!!

No, I didn’t get the call because someone else did. Period. No trying to mind read. No presuming I wasn’t chosen for a reason. How about remembering all the times I have been chosen, when another artist got passed over. Or how about knowing that my work is excellent, but different than what the judges were looking for.

I must create my best work no matter what the call, or even if there is NO call. My art comes from a deep and secret place far inside, not to be pissed out at the whim of a stranger. Sure, a call may motivate me, but ultimately my satisfaction must come from creating.

I remember being a little kid in art school, hiding my drawing from the other kids, because my work was so special that I had to protect it. I didn’t hide it because it was not good, I hid it so they could not copy it. It was the most special thing about me, a super power before any one knew about superpowers. I could make up any little dream and put it on a page and no one else could ever do it the same way. I wish I had a nickel for all my little fantasy doodles. I’m smiling as I remember.

I drew for the sheer joy of watching my inner world pour out the tip of my pen. I inhabited those secret worlds, where I was always “ok”. I did not need a prize, a ribbon, a write up in the paper. And the wonderful thing is that I still don’t need it. Over the past seven years that I have been showing my work my focus had turned to the idea of money. Making money from my art.

Not because I needed it, but because I am supposed to want that! I bought into the sales model. The websites that shout at me to join this or that marketing plan. Sell your art here! Make 5 grand a week! Be your own boss! While focusing on the money I began to sweat the call results. Did I get in to that show? What is the payout? How are the prizes broken down? What a bunch of joy-squishing nonsense!

I could see trying to make an impression on my Dad, but I knew he would never see me even when he was alive. Well, he sure can’t see me now, so I can quit trying to impress the family with my wealth ! I’m so glad we had this talk! Thanks for listening!

(No, I did not get the “Call for the Wall”, but I now have the coolest spare bugroom, um, bedroom, in the entire city !)

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