Dear Artist,

I am the first to admit that I do not handle rejection letters in the most mature fashion. My gut reaction involves curse words and whining. It HURTS! What can I say, I don’t enjoy the feeling. It is difficult not to feel like I wasted my time, energy, and money just to receive an impersonal single white piece of paper that simply says, no.

Alas, I usually come around to the conclusion that, “This is what I signed up for.” And that rejection is just part of the process.

Moving forward and making new art is usually the best answer. Art comes from life anyway, so why not add a dose of rejection into the mix? I have done just that in one of my most recent artworks. Since my art concept revolves around the idea that everything matters and everything is connected I thought rejection letters from strangers was a perfect material to use. What a crazy idea. Sending letters to strangers that you know will crush them. What a connection to share with someone you will never meet.

I decided to sew some rejection letters I had been collecting and draw my emotion out on to them.

It felt good and wrong all at the same time. But, I believe that honesty is always the best policy and this is truly what a rejection letter makes me feel. I think many people out there can relate.

How do you deal with rejection?


  • M.M.E.

    First off, this is just amazing! I love it. I feel the same way and I could easily paper a whole wall with my rejection letters. Then I just tell myself it wasn’t meant to be and try to find another way to get to where I want to go. I know you’re work with the letters certainly put a smile on many faces, so maybe that was the reason you received them all.

  • Lauren Odell Usher

    Thanks M.M.E. I’m glad you “got” the work. I try to stay as light hearted as possible about everything in life. Making this work was the best way for me not to take things so seriously and add a little humor into a stressful situation. Thanks so much for the comment. I really appreciate it.

  • The Renzntzman

    Rejection is hard. The only way I know to combat it is to keep working and focus on the victories.
    One thing that has been bothering me lately is this: why do artists have to pay to have their work juried? Actors don’t pay to audition. What is the money used for? It seems very wrong to me.

  • Lauren Odell Usher

    Thanks for all of the encouragement everyone. The Rentzntzman, I agree that it sucks to have to pay entry fees to submit art to a show that you may not even get into! It is one of the reasons I haven’t applied in a good 5 months or so. Speaking from the other side (Lisa and I were part of a year long gallery collective project) the money is used mainly for promoting the show, food at the reception, and gallery sitters. Unfortunately, a great deal of galleries don’t sell a lot of work, but still want to show it, so the fees are a necessary evil. Thanks so much for the comment. Any one else have any thoughts on this matter?