Monday, March 30, 2015

Rejected!

-By Dan dos Santos

Many of us received Acceptance Letters from Spectrum this past week, while others had to come to terms with having their work rejected.

Obviously, being accepted into Spectrum is a happy occasion, and extremely well deserved. However, dealing with the rejection is a lot more difficult, especially if you've been trying year after year to get in. It's hard not to be discouraged when you feel like you did your best, and it still wasn't good enough. Trust me when I tell you, that feeling NEVER goes away. Rejection always stings.

I was extremely fortunate this year to be accepted into the annual again, and even more fortunate to be nominated for an award.

To the outsider, it may seem that the same professionals get in year after year with ease, while others continually struggle. But that's not entirely true. What you don't see amongst all those joyous acceptance posts on Facebook is the all of work that was rejected from those very same pros.

For every one piece I get in, usually four are rejected. And that's after I've already culled them down to only my best works.

So, I thought it would be enlightening to showcase just some of the work that I submitted to Spectrum this year that did NOT get in.

Rejected!

Rejected!

Rejected!

Rejected!

Rejected!


And this isn't even all of them!

Every one of these pieces, some of which were actually my personal favorites of the year, will NOT be included in this year's annual.

Does that mean they aren't any good? No. Does it mean I'm not any good? No. It just means that these particular pieces didn't entice these particular jurors as a group, enough to garner sufficient votes. In fact, some of these very same pieces may be accepted next year by a different jury.

These rejected pieces also serve to make me more appreciative of what I achieved with the pieces that did get in, noticing qualities in them that I hand't noticed before.

So, in celebration of all those who did NOT get into Spectrum, but keep trying year after year anyways, I salute you! Determination is one of the most important qualities an artist can have, and is an essential ingredient of success. I hope you all take this rejection in stride, and continue to strive for your goals!

52 comments:

  1. For the past few shows my work has been rejected. It feels frustrating, but it's good thing an artist rejected is an artist with good company. Thank you for showing you rejects Dan.

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    1. You're in great company for sure, Sam! I'm always astounded at how many wonderful artists don't get in. In fact, I believe there is only ONE artist who has always made it into Spectrum. Can you name who?

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    2. I would guess Gurney or Brom... or Gustafson.

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    3. Gurney failed to get into Spectrum 20. He had a 19 year streak!

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    4. Apparently, I'm wrong. Both Brom AND Scott have that distinction.

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    5. The Spectrum Thunderdome lives! Who will be the last one standing?! :)

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    6. Yes, indeed. We had a bibliographer who kept track of everything and he had assured us that Brom was the last man standing, which I dutifully mentioned in his Grand Master essay. I had assumed our guy was right and you know what happens when you assume. Yep. Scott & Brom are still the last men standing after 22 years!

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  2. Sorry to go off topic, but what happened to the Greg Ruth post from a couple days ago? I don't see it up anymore.

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    1. Greg accidentally deleted it. He is in the process of redoing it. Sorry about that.

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    2. Gotcha, thanks for the reply!

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  3. I think taking part in competitions can toughen you as an artist. The point is to not despair over a rejection but to pick yourself up as fast as possible and go on, make more art and be better the next time ;) In that sense competitions can be a good tool to grow mentally as an artist!!

    PS: I also noticed that the article (which I couldn't finish) disappeared!?

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    1. The rejection is essential. Art school was a great primer, but a lot of artists didnt get to have that experience. Receiving harsh critique teaches you to separate the art from the artist and be more objective about your work.

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  4. I never send my work to Spectrum (i'm not good enough) but this article is very inspirational, and forces me to be better in my job, and improve my artwork once, twice, again and again.... thanks.

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    1. Juan, it's fine to wait until your work is at a certain level. But don't wait too long. If you wait until you're truly happy with your work, you'll literally be waiting forever.

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  5. Exactly. I was disappointed that the piece I did with Dan this year didn't get accepted, but it's not going to stop me from celebrating who did get in, or make me wonder whether I am doing good work, or stop me from submitting again next year. It stings to not get in, even at our level, that never goes away, but what makes you a pro is shaking it off

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    1. Man, I love that song. But yeah, I was surprised your piece didn't make it in over the others. You never know what's going to please the judges.

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  6. Could we get the rest of the Muddy Colors artist to make a Spectrum Rejected post?

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    1. I was actually thinking we should do a "Salon des Refusés" post. :)

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  7. Dan, all of those are TERRIBLE and there's a reason why they got rejected. ;) winky emoticon.

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  8. Ugh. I know. May as well quit right now.

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  9. Wait, they sent out rejection letters? Now I'm even wondering if my pieces were submitted properly (not that it would have made much difference, but still...).

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  10. Inspired by Dan's post, I took a look back through my entries for 22.

    If anyone's curious, I entered 16 pieces (couple series, some single) and of those five were accepted.

    I did a little math and that puts me at a 30%ish success rate. Which, as it happens, is the Rotten Tomatoes percentage for 2003's "Hollywood Homicide" starring Harrison Ford and another guy.

    Ultimately, it's one of those things you can't take too hard.

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    1. My percentage this year (using the Rotten Tomatoes Success Scale or RoTSS), is in line with "Piranha 3DD" at 13% (12.5 actually).

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    2. Lol!
      I usually hover around 20%, but I did my best this year with a 40% success rate. Puttin me on par with 'Armageddon (1998)'

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  11. Great post, thanks!

    It's been kind of a rough few years for me, especially since having kids means my output is basically zero. So I don't have a lot of chances to get into Spectrum. Having my single entry rejected this time was a bummer. It used to make me depressed, but now I get excited thinking about the next thing I can work on that will get in. It might be ready by next year...

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    1. Bluefooted! So nice to see you. I haven't seen you since CA days! Your work is way too good not to be submitting more than 1 piece. And congrats on the child!

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    2. Oh I had missed the news of you having a baby! That's great! I miss seeing your art on dA but of course you have a great reason for having slowed down for now :)

      As for Spectrum, I don't mind entering even knowing I have no chance, it's fun anyway. And when you know you're not going to make it, there is no rejection "depression" it's a given already :)

      I didn't send anything this year, nothing new to show and no money to enter. But I hope to have some cool things next year.

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  12. If we do a "rejected" post for Spectrum 22, I've got at least 3 to showcase!

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  13. What is this "Rejection Letter" you speak of? I didn't think Spectrum did that.

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    1. I saw people speaking of rejection with such certainty that I assumed some message went out. I guess I was mistaken.

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    2. Yeah, when the majority of artists speak of being rejected by Spectrum (and the majority are rejected) I think they mean not getting in at all, in which case there is no notification (you just don't see your name on the artist list).

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  14. Because my work is so out there it's always about percentages for me. There are always pieces I think should have gotten in that didn't. It's amazing especially for some annuals, if I don't enter at least 8-10 pieces none get in. That's still a pretty great return if you think what advertising costs.

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    1. I don't think I have once had the pieces I was sure would make it get in. It is always my 2nd and 3rd tier submissions that get in... not sure what to make of that. I must mean something! ;)

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    2. As far as "strategy", I also think certain categories are more competitive than others, in terms of the quantity and quality of work. I think one of the judges commented that the publishing category was tough this year (assuming that meant "Books"). Books can be tough because you have covers mixed with interiors, where covers are certainly the cream of the crop (generally more resources devoted to them by artists and clients because of their greater importance). On the flip side, the "Unpublished" category, though perhaps large, probably has the highest percentage of non-professional work as well.

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    3. Same thing here. But we are often dismissive of the qualities of our own work. The piece I had nominated for an award wasn't my favorite when I painted it. Yet, every friend that walked into my studio was instantly like "Whoah, you should paint more stuff like THIS." So obviously it was striking a cord for other people. As the artist, I think we just have different ideas of what made a piece successful to us. Potential and struggle play larger roles, roles that the audience couldn't care less about.

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    4. Definitely, Bill. I've often said Spectrum is the best advertising a SFF artist can by. I submit at least 10 pieces every year. If I get in, I'm basically buying a full page ad in one of the most prestigious annuals for $200! You can't beat that deal.

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  15. I propose the Rotten Tomatoes Success Scale (RoTSS) become standard.

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    1. I second the motion. The motion carries. I does help to clarify. Confusing percentages and maths are off-putting. The RoTSS scale on the other hand is universally relatable. Well done Godbey.

      I anticipate an acceptance rating of RoTSS somewhere between "Snowpiercer" (95%) and "The Tale of the Princess Kayguya" (100%)

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  16. Dan, thank you for this post.

    For a while there, I was submitting to Spectrum every year, and never got in, and it was beyond frustrating, beyond discouraging, it was demoralizing. So, I stopped submitting and gave up. Over the last few years, I concentrated on making my art the best it could be for ME (or, let's be honest, my client,) not some random panel of random judges.

    This post makes me want to try again.

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  17. It would be cool if you posted artwork you have submitted in the years where absolutely nothing has been accepted. I bet that would be even more inspiring!

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    1. J.L., I've been really lucky with Spectrum, and I think I've almost always gotten at least 1 piece in. But there are other competitions, like the Society of Illustrators, where I have been completely rejected for 5 years straight. Still gotta try though!

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  18. Thanks for the great post! The perspective is nice - I always end up thinking of the Muddy Colors folks as sippin champagne and rolling around in there numerous acceptance letters. It can be easy to end up seeing your art heroes as super human. Thanks for your candor on the subject!

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  19. Great post, thank you! I am relatively new to Spectrum, and something you said surprised me:
    "some of these very same pieces may be accepted next year by a different jury." How is this possible? If you submit as personal work one year (the year the work is created), and published work on a following year (when the work is published)? Is there another possible scenario? Thank you!

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