The Bright Side Of A Rejection Letter

One way to make a living as a professional artist is to apply for things such as grants, residencies and public commissions. This can be a very competitive and daunting process as you might imagine. There are, after all, seven billion people on the planet guaranteeing an overwhelming number of artists all vying for these opportunities.

Here are a few things that I have learned from the perpetual application process I have been engaged in for the last year:

1. You will be rejected far more times than you will be accepted. This should be obvious.

2. The longer the rejection letter the further you made it in their selection process. I have seen enough of these now to tell the difference between an obligatory blow-off statement from a committee that doesn’t care and one that was written with regret over having to cut you loose.  (See below for my latest rej letter. The writer seemed  sincere about my not making the final cut and encouraged me to apply for future opportunities at his organization.)

3. There are an infinite number of reasons (other that the content & quality of your proposal) why you will be rejected. These may or may not include political squabbling on the part of the selection committee,  demographic issues, or any other reason you can’t think of.

The bottom line is that in order to participate in this kind of opportunity mining  you just need to keep applying with a bulletproof attitude. Its a numbers game; The more times you apply, the more you increase you overall chances of getting something.

Good luck and

-Stay Tuned

Rejection letter from Eyebeam:


Thank you for your considered application to Eyebeam. I’m writing to let you know that we are not going to be able to offer you a 2012 spring/summer Residency.We appreciate the time and thought that you clearly put into the process. You were one of 41 shortlisted applicants and we very much enjoyed discussing your application. The level of applications this round was extremely high. It is never an easy decision, but this application round was more difficult than usual. We had only about a 4% success rate overall. Your application was quite strong and there was a lot of conversation around it. 

The review panel this round was comprised of myself, Diana Eng, Michelle Levy, Fran Ilich, Mary Mattingly, and Marko Tandefelt. 

Thank you, again, from all of us here at Eyebeam. We look forward to hearing what you’re working on next. We wish you the best in all of your future projects!


Roddy (and the whole Eyebeam team!)”

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