Friday, February 23, 2007

One-Fifth Full!

Title: "Blue Surface Tension"
Series: Alien Water
Creation Year: 2006

Part 1

* Please Note: Because I wrote these entries in order and posted them in order, and, because I don't see a way in my dashboard to rearrange the order of these three posts...get to the point...you will be seeing Part 3 first above, then Part 2 and then this one, Part 1. Sorry! Maybe, if arranging individual posts the way the author wants is NOT a current feature, then it should be. *

This is a multi-part blog-entry, and please bear with me, hopefully you find it informative and interesting. If you are an artist or a photographer, you may fully understand where this is coming from and appreciate its message.

A few days ago, I received an email from a Fine Art photography consortium (of sorts), for which I had submitted some of my Fine Art Photographs for consideration. They sell Fine Art photography for various artists to their network of art buyers, museum curators and gallery owners - that is their target market. Of course I thought “cool,” I'll give it a shot.

As they only wanted a small sampling, that is what I gave them. There was no maximum number mentioned for the submission requirements, but they wrote somewhere in their website text to only send a few samples first.

I entered into this with hopeful, yet cautious optimism. I emailed five samples of my Fine Art work: I wanted to test the waters, so to speak, and see what they liked in a small sampling of my work. I didn't really have any reservations about submitting my work, and maybe over confidently I was thinking that all of my work would be accepted for their marketing endeavors.

A couple of days passed, maybe three, and I kept the submission in the back of my mind not trying to speculate what the results would be and just let whatever may be, be.

I think it was actually three days later that I got their email in response to my submission, and I soon realized that I was sorely mistaken about my submission. I was quite taken aback when I read the email and it said that they like my work, but they only approved one out of the five images for inclusion in their library. Of the items not approved, they believed they could not picture these particular images framed and displayed on a wall – and they may not sell well.

Upset...I was not.

Perplexed...yes I was.

I should know this by now: anyone in the art's game knows they will receive bad news, lukewarm news and sometimes, even good news. Rejection letters are standard medicine for photographers and artists. It is a good sign if a rejection is accompanied by positive feedback, which this was. They said they liked my work but did not believe they could visualize it up on a collector's wall, thus, making it a difficult sell. That's kind of positive, right!

Because I “needed” to make some sense of this “mostly rejected submission,” I spent time analyzing their response, and I finally came up with this conclusion: “We can not personally visualize your work selling well to OUR clients; however, we like your work.” That seemed more like what they were telling me, at least that is what I want and must believe.

I am not distressed by this incident – there are many other fish out there in the Fine Arts' World who will like my work better and who have clients who will love my work. I not only believe this, but I MUST believe it to be true.

If you are not believing in your own work, then what is the point of being an artist? There is a lot of madness in this life as an artist and at the end of the day, weather it was a productive or a nonproductive day; a good day or a bad day, you will need to still believe that your work is meaningful and has quality. You must also believe that there is a market for your work and it is your job as Artist/Photographer and business person, to find your market.

Anyway, this particular group's critique & decision that 80% of my submitted work was not suited to their purpose, is OK with me. I just have to consider that after my first submission, that my cup was still 1/5th full – they accepted one of my pieces!

For some reason though, as the darkness fell along the equator, so did my spirits – not sure why. That night I was kept awake by those nagging Gremlins-of-doubt. I tried to sleep but it was hopeless: I was pestered by a phrase that was painted on the side of Chiggy von Richthofen's spacecraft (from the TV show, SPACE ABOVE AND BEYOND): “Resistance is Futile!” Resistance to over analyzing, I think.

My mind raced with thoughts that my work may not be as good as what I believed it was. I worried that I was careless someway in my presentation or “the look” that my photographs had as introduced in digital format on a screen that may not be 'color spaced' and fine-tuned like mine.

Were my blacks showing up as muddy gray tones on their screen? Were my reds showing up like sickly pinks on their monitor? Were my shots just boring in their eyes? All these hazardous thoughts burned into my brain that night: how could I sleep – YES - resistance to these nagging thoughts, somehow, became futile!

Over the years, after dealing with various folks, I have developed a fairly medium to thin-thick skin when it comes to critiquing (criticism) of my work. I still run through the many ruminative questions I have about my work...over, and occasionally, over again. More about this later...I will get into the world of “Critique” in another part of this multi-part blog entry.

I think the main thing that kept me awake was thinking: “What could I have done better?” “What could I have done different?” And of course, the next question is a big concern of mine as a Fine Art Photographer, “Is this organization a good fit for me?” Finding good and trusting art partnerships is not easy and takes a strategic plan, a lot of patience, endurance, and some time to succeed. Sometimes you know that a business partnership is just wrong, like a five fingered hand trying to fit into a four fingered glove – it just feels BAD!

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