An Artist’s Dilemma

So you have finished your project. It is a true work of art. Classy. Remarkable. Punchy. You completely adhered to the guidelines given to you, and fulfilled every strange request as well as you possibly could without making the whole project slip into the realms of the ridiculous. Done. Mark it down as a winner. You present it to your client full of pride and confidence. Your client has one look at it and says:

“I don’t like it.”

So now what do you do? Kill your client? There are several options: A handgun may be your first pick, but it’s noisy, messy, and finishes him off way too quickly. Something like a butterknife may bring your point across more effectively. Gasoline or electro shocks could lead to satisfactory results, but frankly speaking, the fantasy of using any of these things on the offending client have really never eased the pain of rejection for me. Torturing your client is a mere bandaid for the soul. So maybe the issue doesn’t lie with others — rejection is something you work out with yourself.

I used to be very upset whenever I got told something I created wasn’t “good”. But what I’ve come to realize is that as long as I believe it is good, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. However, if you are doing a project for a client, then your one and only interest should be your client’s satisfaction. You make suggestions, you can give him your opinion, but ultimately, he pays for it, and if he wants a line there and the whole thing in purple, you HAVE to oblige in order to collect a pay check.

Keep your designs, don’t delete anything. Even the ones that didn’t make the final cut. They may have been rejected by one person, but another person may love them. Don’t delete the pictures from your hard drive, even the ones that the stock agency didn’t want. You took them for a reason, YOU liked them. Use rejection to your advantage, as constructive criticism — even if it’s not formulated that way. “Don’t like it” doesn’t sound very constructive, but it’s a challenge to find out why they don’t and how to improve. For yourself. Let’s face it — you weren’t born a design genius, a master of photographic arts. You are still learning. And learning you will, by embracing rejection and using it to your advantage. So even if you think your design was awesome and your client is a jackass for not recognizing it, question your work one more time, and see if it can be improved — for yourself. Because ultimately, the most important client you ever have to impress is you. Everyone else really doesn’t matter. Even if they’re the ones paying your mortgage. Because let’s be honest — despite the fact that artists can be productive and creative when they are churning ideas of murder and suicide around in their heads, it’s just way easier to create something amazing when you’re convinced that you can do great things — otherwise, why don’t throw your camera in the next pond or ram a hammer through your monitor?

Rejection — it can be a good thing. Every once in a while.

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Karin Nelson

YouTuber. Graphic Designer. Fuji Shooter. Apple Fangirl. Cat owned. Made in Germany. Perfected in Italy. Imported to Canada.