Rejection, it’s good for the Ego

Mnster Suit #6 oils by HMBT available for sale on web site
Monster Suit #6 oils by HMBT available for sale on web site

Rejection, it’s good for the Ego.

“In rejecting the Beatles, 1962: We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” Decca Recording Co.

 How does one deal with the inevitable rejections that we get along the path of the creative? Well, one of the best ways to deal with rejection is to embrace it. Yes, I said embrace it. Learn to love rejection, failure and disappointments.

 Rejection is our friend; it tames the ego, creates drive and ambition, and clears the mind.  Rejection is always part of the path, for any endeavor, creative or not. You will encounter it at every turn, even if you are the most creative, most skilled and most passionate person in the world. Rejection is a numbers game. I feel pretty good when I get a rejection notice. Why you ask? Why good and not bad or self-pity? Every single NO is another no on the way to my YES. You have to accept that fact. If you allow yourself to take rejection to heart, you will die, wither on the vine of life and give up. If you fear rejection you will never succeed.

 Your ego is not that fragile, your work is important to you and the world. We take rejection because it is part of living; it is part of the equation of life itself.  It only matters what you think of yourself, your own work, and your desire to accomplish whatever it is that you are working towards. Never ever, let anyone disrupt the relationship you have with yourself; it is the most important relationship you will ever have in this world.

  No matter what we do in this life, there will be someone on the sidelines that is pointing a finger and telling you why it and you are wrong. We must have the courage to face those people with the convictions of self-love and say, my own opinion of myself is much more important than anything else. If we fail, fail with grace and grit. Learn to fail with grace. Become aware of your inner self and motivations. Embrace that you will not always be a winner and rejections and failures cease to be difficult to endure and grow from. It is just another no on the way to your yes.

 Rejection keeps you humble, keeps you motivated, keeps you striving. It is not the end of the world, just another disappointment on your path. There will be many disappointments, many bends in the road you will not see around. If you have the courage and conviction of self-love then that is all they are, just potholes to sidestep, lessons to learn, another no for the bone pile of life.

 “There are a billion people in China. It’s not easy to be an individual in a crowd of more than a billion people. Think of it. More than a BILLION people. That means even if you’re a one-in-a-million type of guy, there are still a thousand guys exactly like you.”

A. Whitney Brown

 I want to share a story, my own story. When I started out in the world of art, I started with painting recycled furniture. I did my first work and liked it. I went on to create four more works. At the time, I was sick, out of work, facing my own mortality and penniless. I was painting to keep my mind sane while I dealt with my very possible death.

 I wanted to see if my friends were just being kind to me when they told me my newfound passion for art was a latent talent. To me the only way I could find out was to try and sell the work to strangers. So, when the fifth work was done, I loaded my works into the back of my rusted out Volvo station wagon and set out to find a buyer. No plans really, I just started with the phone book and a list of galleries. Never having been to school for art and having no resume for my works I had no idea what I was setting myself up for. I did not know any of the art world rules, that galleries don’t appreciate people just walking in and asking for a showing. I did not know that I was setting myself up for a day of rejection and heartbreak. I did not know what I did not know.

  The first three places I stopped at were really mean to me. I almost stopped right then and there. The fourth place I walked into, when they said no, I asked why and what could I do better to get them to say yes. I was lucky, that gallery owner took a moment to tell me I was breaking all the rules in the book. I asked what the rules were, I said thank you and left.

  I went into a coffee shop to take a rejection break and sat down. The owner had local art on the walls. It gave me a thought; maybe this is where I should start. I approached the owner and asked for a moment of their time. They were nice folks and stepped outside to my hunk of junk on the corner and peered in. They were not interested in my works either, but they were kind enough to tell me I should try a consignment furniture store that they frequented. I looked the store up and drove across town to see them. I got there filled with hope. They were not interested either, but were kind people and suggested another store for me to try. I drove back across town and tried them. No go, but I did ask for another suggestion from them, I also asked what they looked for in hand painted furniture and home décor. They told me, I wrote it down, said thank you and left.

  In this day I am now up to my seventh no. The last store gave me three other stores to try. The first two, they were big fat no’s. Now at nine rejections and counting, I was starting to loose my faith and determination. I almost just went home, but instead I steeled myself for another NO, and drove over to the last lead I had for the day. They were very excited by my work! They took me on right then and there. Five days later they called to tell me that all five of my works had sold and asked for more. My career had begun.

 I spent the next two years doing furniture and up-cycled works of all kinds and selling them as fast as I could make them. I also started painting on canvas for the first time. I took my works around to restaurants, frame shops and coffee shops and booked several shows. I started selling my canvas works just as fast. I was off and running.

 I then started learning about the world of galleries and self-representation on the web. I started a rejection pile from the galleries and at the same time I started a web site and a blog to sell my works directly. Three years later I got my first gallery acceptance, this is now five years into my working full time as an artist. By that time I had sold over 200 works so I was feeling pretty good about myself. The show was a total flop. The gallery owner suggested that I remain a “hobbyist” painter. I was crushed.

  I never let anyone tell me what I am, or what I can do in this life. I plunged ahead and kept trying. Eventually I found some success in the gallery system, but I found that I liked selling directly because of the personal connections I was able to make with my patrons. That was all 11 years ago this year. To date I have sold 557 works worldwide.

  If I had let my first 10 rejections infect my self-belief system, I would never have made it at all. Success is self-defined. If you are too afraid to fail, then you will never begin to live your dreams. That’s why I truly believe that Rejection is good for the Soul, Ambition and the Ego. Rejection is the foundation for the great things that come from perseverance and faith in self. Embrace rejection and the world will be yours.

Heather Brown Truman

BAD! Kitty Art Studio



  1. Vikki
    June 14, 2009

    This is really wonderful Heather and very inspiring. Thank you for sharing. All is so true. A great many people sit on the sidelines and don’t try because they so fear rejection or ‘failure.’ And the ironic thing is that if you don’t try- you are assured of failure. This is a subject close to my heart.

    Rejection- being told ‘you can’t’ -is just fuel for my fire. My mother used to jokingly say, “When you tell Vikki she can’t do something- you might as well be waving a red flag in front of a bull.”

    In the early 80’s my husband told me that ‘I could never make it as a Visual Efx Artist.’ He said ’those people are all programmers and an artist didn’t have the capacity to learn the technical requirements. He said ’don’t embarrass yourself or me.’

    I became one of the very best Visual Efx Artist in Los Angeles and the reason was because “I was real artist’ . The clients loved that. It made me stand out in the crowd and I filled a creative void they needed. The technical was just another tool in my paintbox. The way I look at is- anyone can learn how to do it if they make an effort. But pushing technology beyond its limits for creative achievement is only inherit to ’an artist.’ That is where we ‘as artist’ have an advantage.

    Oh- and ‘the husband’ became my ex-husband in about 18 months. I’d rather try and fail any day of the week… than to just life go by without me.

    1. badkittyartstudio
      June 24, 2009

      Oh Vikki, you are one of my favorite people in this world. 🙂

    June 15, 2009


    1. badkittyartstudio
      June 24, 2009

      Not sure what that means, but thanks for stopping by.

  3. jafabrit
    June 16, 2009

    You have sold more than I ever have, and faced more rejection. There is really no telling how the art market goes, what appeals, what doesn’t, and sometimes geography plays into it too. I think we just have to get on with it and not let rejection kill your spirit. I am so glad you stuck with it 🙂

    ps. great post.

    love corrine

    1. badkittyartstudio
      June 24, 2009

      Corrine, you sweet wonderful fantastic lass, you rock my world!!! Thank you so much for your words and encouragement through the years, it means the world to me. Folks Corrine is the artist that inspires me to new heights all the time! She is a constant incredible loving talent and I appreciate her input and presence in my world, words cannot cover it. LOVE! 🙂

  4. Shea Adday
    June 16, 2009

    Bad kitty is a smart kitty and a kindred spirit. I have been producing work and selling it for over 20 years. Taste is fickle and sales are not always a valid indicator of how good someone’s work is. Bad kitties determination is perhaps the key. Go, Heather.

    I’m an artist/writer and move between mediums to find the best way to express what I need to say. The passion for art and the creative life are themes in the novels I’ve written. The first was just published. When I first started writing, the internet didn’t exist as it does today, and I was looking for stories about the passion for art in literature and not finding what I wanted to read about. Getting published is allowing me to share my passions in a new way. Art work shows, but it does not tell all that went into making an object. Today, artists are able to share more about themselves online. With my fiction, I hope to share a little about art history and show and tell, within the context of a story, the depth with which the need to create can impact an individual.

    My first book, Trying to Get to You, touches on several themes, but central to it is a passion for making art and music. One of my goals is to promote understanding of the arts and to generate interest in them. Other artists or anyone who has really felt passionate about a thing or another human being will love Farley’s story.

    -Shea Adday

    1. badkittyartstudio
      June 24, 2009

      Shea, thanks so much for stopping by. I appreciate your comment, truths and wisdom here. I would love to get a copy of your book, it sounds amazing…I’ll look it up. I think your insight into the writers mind is really interesting, thanks so much for being here and sharing with me and my readers.

  5. artistatexit0
    June 18, 2009

    Rejection can also be a sign that you are on to something. I’m often surprised by how closed minded people in the art world can be. I saw a person wearing a “Bad Kitty” t-shirt on Bardstown Rd in Louisville this evening. Is that your work too? I am in awe of the way you seem to have “mastered” the myriad ways you can get your art out there electronically! I’m an artist too and I work at the river…here’s my link:

    1. badkittyartstudio
      June 24, 2009

      I think you hit it on the head with your statement that rejection means you are onto something…you are so very right on that! I am going to go check your artwork out. I did do t-shirts back in the day (it’s been a few years ago) so that may have been one of mine…:)
      Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope we can get to know each other better!


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