Rejection Can Be A Good Thing

by Debbie.
(Georgia, USA)

Over the past few years my confidence in my jewelry making skills and designs has grown tremendously. I love playing with wire and searching for beautiful stone beads and pendants to complement my pieces.

I’ve even began to branch out into working a little with poly clay to create my own beads and pendants, but didn’t feel they were good enough yet to actually use in jewelry that I sell. But I recently had an experience that forced my to push myself creativity.

Every year for the past three years I have participated in many fine arts and crafts shows sponsored by our local art association.

I am a member of the association, and even taught a class there (using polymer clay) to a group of teens from a local shelter. I have been juried often by the association and have always been accepted into their shows, that is until recently.

This past fall, two weeks before the show, I received the dreaded e-mail from the director that I had not been accepted. What!?! How could that be?

Quite simply, the other artists who applied were deemed better than mine. I was not happy to say the least and I thought “you want more artsy, I’ll give you more artsy!” But what came from this unexpected rejection was an opportunity for me to try new things and take more creative risks.

The photo here is my first polymer clay, autumn inspired branch necklace, that had been floating around in my head for several months. It took some time before I was satisfied with my clay leaves, but I finally felt that my skills using a new media was customer worthy.

Needless to say, I did get into the next fine arts and crafts show sponsored by the art association (with a different jury I was told). Here is what I learned from my experience: don’t take rejection personally . . . art is subjective! Don’t get complacent in what you do, push yourself out of your comfort zone and creativity challenge yourself.

I have made several more branch necklaces using the clay in a variety of colors . . . and they sold before I was able to take a photo of them. Hmm . . . maybe I should get rejected more often.

Earthly Expressions

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  1. This is stunning! I love the detail of your work and the colours that you have used! I agree that rejection is sometimes a good thing as it gives you that kick to push yourself harder and create more stunning pieces! Keep up the great work!

  2. Your necklace is beautiful!! It is a good thing that you experienced that rejection. You not only made the best of it, you flourished through it. It’s a great lesson for all of us. Thank you!

  3. I too want to jump in and say that that necklace is wonderful. I would have liked to see the piece that was rejected.

  4. Debbie I was surprised to find that the leaves were polymer, they look like silk to me. Very nice work. I am in that spot of not thinking my jewelry is good enough for shows. I have sold many pieces, but to friends. I keep wondering if they were just being nice. One of these days I will take that leap and try selling it. Keep up the beautiful work you do. Congrats to you!

  5. Thanks for this article! Your work is beautiful, and your experience encourages me as a young designer. I often fear that rejection of my art. It’s encouraging to know that life not only goes after rejection – it gets better!

  6. I LOVE this piece – absolutely beautiful. And thank you for the story. Great lesson and inspirational.

  7. Beautiful autumn colors, and well-placed in your design! It’s always good to take risks with our art because how will we know unless we try it out? Sometimes it works, sometimes it just needs more tweeking 🙂

    @Colleen: Your friends are being supportive, AND they love your work. Personally, I won’t buy something just to be “nice” and I suspect they feel the same. Also, ask for honest feedback on ways to improve your work or ask for ideas…friends want to be helpful, too! Never take a critique (can be positive or negative) personally because everyone has their own taste and sense of style; plus, any advice or suggestions can become a springboard for your new designs.

  8. Carol Wilson says:

    I love your leaf necklace . . . and the fact that you didn’t let the rejection get you down. You showed ’em lady! I’m not surprised that these are selling so well.

  9. Hi Debbie,
    I’m so pleased you posted this…I agree that sometimes we need to be pushed to discover new techniques and designs.
    I too have been rejected!

    A year or so ago, I was brave enough to approach a local gallery. was told that my pieces were a little “too handmade” for the owner’s liking. He suggested I made masters and cast numerous pieces from it. I told him that that wasn’t ‘me’ as each of my pieces were unique. He wished me all the best and added that he had a horrible feeling he may regret saying no to me…

    Like you, it was the push I needed…and my pieces got better and better, until this September I opened my own shop in the beautiful Cotswolds town of Chipping Campden!

    When I first started, I used to take everything personally, because we put so much of ourselves into our work…but honestly…I am grateful every day to that chap for rejecting me!

  10. Just wanted to also say that this is a beautiful piece. And your photography is good too which is something that might sway a jury. They goofed. Period.

  11. Thanks ladies for the feedback on gaining confidence. I try to ask my friends to be totally honest as that’s what I need to hear. It’s fun when I can get my friends to add suggestions on how to better something. It also lets them know that they too have a creative mind. I guess I will need the proverbial fire lite under my butt to get my stuff out there.

  12. I was rejected this past fall for a show I did the previous year, that was my best show to date. I was crushed and sent an email about being very disappointed. They said that there was a lot of competition (in jewelry, there always is) and they encouraged me to apply next year since there would be a different jury. FYI, read some of the conversations on Being rejected for shows you have been accepted into for years is pretty common. Knowing that helps me keep going, but I’ll never stop being disappointed.

  13. Beautiful piece & love your story!

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