Something to remember, when rejection comes along

Campbells_Soup_Cans_MOMA

Here’s something to remember, the next time someone criticises your art or work.

Andy Warhol’s signature work, Campbell’s Soup Cans, hangs on the walls of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. It’s their most prized possession.

They were gifted the art by Warhol’s friend Irving Blum, paying him just $15MILLION for it — that was 10% of it’s $150MILLION valuation. It’s worth even more today!

Compare that, with the rejection letter that same museum sent Andy Warhol, when he offered one of is artworks to the museum for free. See below:

Dear Mr. Warhol,
Last week our Committee on the Museum Collections held its first meeting of the fall season and had a chance to study your drawing entitled Shoe which you so generously offered as a gift to the Museum.
I regret that I must report to you that the Committee decided, after careful consideration, that they ought not to accept it for our Collection.
Let me explain that because of our severely limited gallery and storage space we must turn down many gifts offered, since we feel it is not fair to accept as a gift a work which may be shown only infrequently.
Nevertheless, the Committee has asked me to pass on to you their thanks for your generous expression of interest in our Collection.
Sincerely,
Alfred H. Barr, Jr
Director of the Museum Collections
P.S. The drawing may be picked up from the Museum at your convenience.

The letter has been confirmed by MOMA to be authentic.

Why such an about turn?

Andy Warhol’s art was just as amazing when The Museum of Modern Art asked him to take it away, as it was when they were prepared to pay millions for it. What changed was public perception of Warhol’s work. That shift happened because he kept creating amazing work. He carried on, regardless of the rejection and abuse. Eventually, others were able to see what Warhol knew all along.

Had Warhol allowed the rejection to stop him from creating, the world would have been robbed of one of its most influential artists.

Not only is rejection to be expected, it’s almost always what happens when people produce great art.

In other words, the rejection that so many artists fear, is an inevitable part of creating great work. When there’s no rejection and no criticism, it means your art is predictable. It means you’re colouring between the lines.

Embrace rejection and see it for what it is

Never let rejection or criticism stand between you and your art. If you believe in what you’re doing, do it. If YOU see the value of your work, keep on creating.

Never, ever allow the opinion of another, to stop you from creating your art.

Image credit: Museum of Modern Art.

4 Useful tips to help you become a better writer

creative writing

Here are 4 quick writing tips, which have helped me massively over the years. I hope you find them useful.

  1. Write for the waste paper basket. I stole this one from Ernest Hemingway. If you aim for perfection, you’ll seldom write anything. So, just write. Write with freedom and see where it takes you. Some of it will be terrible, but some of it will be gold dust. Use the gold dust.
  2. Write when you feel inspired. But make sure you feel inspired every day. Tip: You don’t wait for inspiration to appear, you go hunting for it with a club.
  3. Write as you speak. Imagine one of your readers is sitting opposite you. Now, write as if you were talking to them. If you do, all your readers will feel as if you’re writing for them specifically.
  4. Write without fear. Don’t waste a second worrying about what the critics or trolls will say. If you do, you will play it safe. Safe writing is dull, uninspiring and forgettable. So choose. You can either be criticised or you can be ignored.

Now, go and write something!

Old ways seldom open new doors

If you’re struggling with a new problem, you may need new tactics or a new strategy.

If you’re struggling with a lingering problem, you definitely need new tactics or a new strategy.

So, stay agile. Old ways seldom open new doors.

An unlimited supply of unique, creative inspiration

barking

Nature has inspired creativity in people, since the first cave art. It’s a constant, beautiful and limitless source of creative inspiration.

I was thinking about that earlier, when I saw a photo I took a few weeks ago. The shot was taken during a walk through Sherwood Forest. As you can see, it’s just a close-up shot of the bark on a Silver Birch tree.

Unique, creative inspiration

As I looked deeper into the photo, I was able to see lots of shapes, shades, cracks, textures and colours. It’s also unique, as no two trees are exactly the same.

That got me thinking.

  • I wondered how useful that kind of unique combination would be to a visual artist.
  • How might that totally original composition inspire a fashion designer, in search of a new look?
  • How could it inspire the creativity of a web designer?
  • How would it inspire a furniture designer, looking for a fresh pattern or colour mix?

The next time you’re in search of some creative inspiration, remember that it’s all around you. You simply need to expose your senses to it and let your mind go where it takes you.

And remember: You don’t wait for inspiration to arrive. You command it to appear, because it’s there. All around you. All the time.

How I got a lot more creative. Could this work for you?

studio

Today, I’d like to share some feedback, from a creative experiment I have been running for the past 3 weeks.

If you’re looking to improve your creative thinking or your creativity in general, you’ll find this really useful.

It’s about working from a very different kind of environment. Allow me to explain.

As I’ve said before, it’s possible to significantly enhance your creative output, by changing your creative environment. I know from reader emails that many of you embrace this idea and find it highly effective.

A new creative space

As regular readers will know, I usually work from either a studio where I live, a coffee shop or an outdoor space.

Well, over the past few weeks, I have experimented with something new. I have worked most days, for several hours or more, from a new creative space. It’s called Helm. Based in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, Helm is the brainchild of my friends, Liam and Ryan Swift from attract. It’s comprised of 2 largish studio spaces and a series of smaller rooms, which are used for meetings and video conferencing, etc. A recording studio is also under construction.

The space is currently used by a number of creative professionals, so there’s always something creative happening around me. This gives it a very different vibe to what I experience, working from the solitude of my wonderful home studio. It’s also nothing like working outdoors or working from a coffee shop, [what Andy Ihnatko brilliantly refers to as a field office].

It’s the change in vibe or atmosphere, which has been most interesting. As the vibe changed, so did my creative output.

A new creative dynamic

I discovered that there is a very different dynamic in play, when creative people share the same space. It has had a direct impact on my work. Whilst I’ve found it challenging to write there because of the activity around me, it has worked wonders for my creativity. I’ve found that ideas and answers come to me very easily. And that’s exactly what I wanted.

For instance, I came up with an idea to brand the images used on my marketing blog. I not only came up with the abstract idea, I also created the design template myself. This quickly attracted lots of positive feedback from my readers and has massively improved the look and feel of the whole site.

What creates the dynamic?

It isn’t that the people at Helm collaborate on projects. They don’t. They do, however, chat over a coffee. They also shoot a few hoops or play football at lunchtime. And if you want to share ideas over lunch, there’s always someone who’d appreciate the opportunity.

The dynamic at Helm comes from a group of creative people, working in close proximity. Think of it as a  microcosm of what we see, with artists in Greenwich Village and Internet entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.

When like-minded people share a space, something special can happen. That’s what I have experienced.

Ideal for everyone?

Will everyone find this type of creative environment to be equally valuable? No. We are all different and I know many would find this kind of space too distracting.

However, if you tend to work alone or from a field office, and there’s a similar type of creative space available in your area, it could be worth checking out.