Showing Up and Playing By Catherine Davies Paetz

JustShowUp_ChristinaRosalie1The other day I was at Trader Joe’s, checking out with my bags in hand. The cashier asked if I wanted to enter a drawing to win a gift card–a “reward” for bringing my own bags (as if saving our planet isn’t reward enough, but that’s another story). I almost said no, because I fill out a ticket every time and I haven’t won yet. But then I thought about the saying, “You can’t win if you don’t play,” which I often use to encourage people who ask about entering a show or submitting work to a book or event. So I filled out the ticket again.

That experience got me thinking more about entering, submitting, and the whole jury process for artists. Woody Allen said, “80% of success is showing up.” I think that goes hand in hand with “You can’t win if you don’t play.” Many people don’t even try to submit work because they don’t think their work will be accepted, or they fear rejection. But in order to have any chance of being accepted, you have to show up and play.

I’ve been on both sides of the jury process over the years.The process itself requires that some people’s work will be accepted and some people’s work will be rejected. Recently I acted as a juror again and, as expected, I had to reject some of the work that was entered. There always are more entries than spaces. As a part of a team, I knew there also was a subjective factor. It’s human nature to rank things a bit differently, despite certain criteria. With space constraints, ultimately the pieces that received the highest over- all rankings were accepted. The others faced rejection.

I always think about those people whose works are rejected, especially when they are new to the experience. It’s tough to face it the first time. But never let that rejection shut you down. We know that there are many reasons for rejection and it doesn’t necessarily mean that the work doesn’t have merit. Depending on the show, event, or book, there could be any number of rea- sons for the outcome. For a show, it may have to do with what the jurors envision. Or it may be that you just missed the cut because of space limitations (too many jewelers applied, for example). Maybe it was the quality of the image submitted. Look at what was accepted and see how your entry might differ.showing_up

Once the same pieces of mine that had been chosen to appear in a book previously were rejected by a show. When I viewed the show later, I understood that what I had submitted didn’t fit with the jurors’ vision of the show, which probably developed only as they viewed the en- tries and how they might relate to one another to create a cohesive show.

If you face rejection, ask yourself some questions. Was this my best work? Was it truly one-of-a-kind? Did I pay attention to detail, craftsmanship, and design? Did I photograph the best possible view? Should I have opted for a professional photograph? And for more input, or if you experience repeated rejection, try to get some suggestions from a teacher or professional artist. Know that the more you enter, the easier it gets to separate yourself from that risk of rejection. Of course, acceptance gives us a great sense of validation, but we can learn from rejection. It’s part of the balance. And when you’re accepted, be thankful, and remember that someone else probably wasn’t–it really keeps things in perspective.

1.2 extract images_Page_66_Image_0001Catherine Davies Paetz has been designing and creating jewelry for more than 30 years and has a BFA in Metals. For the last 9 years she has been working extensively in metal clay. She frequently teaches classes and workshops and has written articles on metal clay techniques.


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