DragonCon Art Show Program, Grand Hall D, Fri 07:00 pm
The DragonCon Art Show is be located in the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Grand Hall West on the Exhibition Level. For more details, check out artshow.dragoncon.org.

This conversation is focused on creative professionals and how they manage rejection and relationships in their life and profession. Rejection in our creative careers comes in some basic forms – whether it’s submitting art to shows, a draft of your latest book, or pitch for a design solution. There are also more complicated forms of rejection that show up due to team dynamics or environmental changes. We’ll take a look at both layers.

Our relationships with others in our creative circles, professional careers, and even personal life can have a HUGE impact on how we manage rejection. Do you believe in the power of karma? Are you loyal to your people and are they loyal to you? Is there power in your ability to give credit out loud to someone and everyone listens? OR are you speaking ill of others? Are you gossiping about your colleague and tearing him/her down? Your negative or positive karma will return to you. Be ready to check yourself.


Before we move on, I need you to realize you own both the rejection and the relationships. My goal is that you leave this conversation more aware of your actions towards others AND aware of how to best take care of yourself. Your words and actions are more powerful that you realize on making or breaking others. Your ability to surround yourself with trust and love is important for bouncing back from rejection. 

ACTION: Take this time to introduce yourself to someone you don’t know in the room. Make a connection in this moment. 


Basic forms of rejection

With basic forms of rejection, consider being strategic in avoiding it the best you can. Let’s unpack that.

Plan for your audience and the situation

  • Do your homework and find out who is involved – do you know one of them already?
  • Don’t just think about yourself. What’s in it for them?
  • Build a calendar or spreadsheet to keep track of where you applied and to who. Seeing the frequency can help make it less scary and more strategic.

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Quality vs Quantity

  • Are you applying yourself to the right art shows or all of them? Consider using application tools like ZAPP or Café. They can also help you keep track of what you’ve applied to and open your mind to other opportunities.
  • You want to see at least about 30% return on your entrees. You’re not going to get everything and would you really want to anyway?
  • What’s the best use of your time and what’s your motivation?
  • Take the time to love on them. What I mean by that is write a note to the key decision maker.

Get back up

  • Okay, so you didn’t get it – so what. There are other shows to apply for, publishers to take your book draft, and you could come up with another design solution.
  • It’s not if it happens, it’s when it happens. And it’s not the end of your career because you didn’t get into some show.
  • Invest your love and don’t worry about the return rate. You love making art! Keep going and get better as you go. Getting organized wouldn’t hurt you.

Things just got complicated

Change Happens

  • Sometimes big changes happen that we have little to no control over. I’ve seen situations where a pack of people will outcast an individual because somewhere along the line, the leader let that be okay.
  • Your boss left and you didn’t realize how much he/she was your advocate. Your new boss isn’t as supportive and doesn’t understand you as a creative professional.
  • You and all your colleagues got laid off or impacted because of a corporate re-org.
  • Point being in these examples, sometimes things get messy and that usually involves people. You may be able to recover or there may be enough damage done that it’s time to move on.
  • You may even realize or feel that the rejection is justified because of some of your own behaviors or actions that returned to bite you. Learn from this and move on.

Let’s stop here for just a moment. Take your hand and put it on your heart. Feel that heart beat on? You’re going to be okay and life is going to move on. I know it’s hard on you when the people around you hurt you or reject you in some way. When you’re having a moment – put your hand to your heart, realize you’re still here, and you’re loved. Even if that’s just you loving yourself in this little moment. 


Is it time to move on?

  • Hey, that’s okay kiddo. That’s why it’s a career. I always liked that word “car” is at the beginning of career. You can drive on.
  • If you are not being respected or treated well – you must handle this. Never give someone the stick to beat you with. Never.
  • Always have a bag ready to leave right now.
  • You always have a choice. Always.
  • Freedom has greater value then all stuff you’ll ever own.

Let’s look trouble straight in the face and deal with it.

  • Take back control. Get your resume updated, review all the great work you did and update your portfolio.
  • Reach out to those favorite colleagues and clients for references. It may be the positive shot in the arm you needed.
  • Taking time to review your career and portfolio can be a healthy and uplifting check-in that you needed.
  • Reach out to your network of people to let them know you need help.

If you are the one being reached out to, best take care of your people. This moment of love and positive karma will be returned to you. I’ve seen it happen again and again in my own career. 


There are some great tools out there to help you:

  • LinkedIn is where it’s at when it comes to sharing your resume and career journey.
  • Glassdoor can give you the inside scoop on what the culture is really like at your next stop. You an also leave feedback about your employers.
  • Behance is a great place to showcase your creative portfolio.
  • Wix.com is great if you’d like to step it up and make your own website.
  • One Fantastic Workshop is November 15-20, 2017, in Nashville, TN. I have the pleasure of being one of the instructors there this year. Join us to help take your business and your art to the next level.

Get back out there and do great things. Be kind.