Really bumming....

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Forum topic by EandS posted 09-08-2011 08:29 AM 1666 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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73 posts in 2430 days

09-08-2011 08:29 AM

Got my bloodwood and maple table featured in my projects rejected by 2 art galleries. I’m extremely bumming about this. It’s hard to get yourself let down on something you poured your heart into.
Has anyone else had a similar experience with one of they’re pieces?

-- ~ ~

19 replies so far

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3077 days

#1 posted 09-08-2011 03:47 PM

Not with any of my pieces, I am still at a beginner-intermediate stage. However, I have had similar experiences with writing and publication. Over time you develop a thick skin, understand that the market has its own biases as to what types of products the curator, editor, publisher, etc. has a personal leaning to, and what types of artists, writers, artisans, etc. the institution likes to support. It really isn’t an intentiional spit in the face and the reality is that the majority of submissions will be rejected, not solely because of quality or dislike, but limited space and the type of end product they want to showcase.

If your goal is to be showcased in a gallery, I would suggest building up a portfolio (woodworking contests, custom work, anything with public exposure), having your pieces professionally photographed, and spending some time at the galleries and eyeing the styles that each gallery tends to cater to. When you build up pieces, you can identify which galleries might be a good fit for that particular piece or vision you produced.

Good luck and keep at it,


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2745 days

#2 posted 09-08-2011 04:10 PM

I tried that once, went to 4 or 5 local galleries and shops. Decided that what I make is not what galleries want – too bad for them.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View blackcherry's profile


3337 posts in 3791 days

#3 posted 09-08-2011 04:12 PM

Plenty of times the rejection is not about the piece, but financial restraints of the gallery itself, also some shop deal exclusively with there own craftsman ,friends, relatives and shop co-ops. Don’t get discourage your piece is probably worthy of display, keep looking and working your talents…BC

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4186 days

#4 posted 09-08-2011 04:18 PM

Just remember that Vincent van Gogh never sold a painting in his lifetime. It’s the nature of art… not a reflection on the quality of your work.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2745 days

#5 posted 09-08-2011 04:26 PM

Charlie – this is true, most people are not recognized until they are dead – sucks.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View helluvawreck's profile


30765 posts in 2835 days

#6 posted 09-08-2011 04:39 PM

Henry David Thoreau was pretty much a failure as an author when he died but now he is recognized as one of the best of all of the American writers and is now read by people all over the world. He is certainly one of my favorites and his book, Walden is an American classic which I dearly love.

I would love to think that I might be able to sell something one day but doubt that it will ever happen. I really just do my woodworking and carving because I love it and I hope that I can leave behind a few things for my family and loved ones that I can be proud of.

For those of you who are trying to make a living out of what you build I am sure that success always comes after a struggle for most. EandS, I hope that you will always be happy in your work and that you will one day find the success that you desire and I would leave you with this advice – be persistent, keep your chin up, do your best, and never give up.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View will delaney's profile

will delaney

325 posts in 2604 days

#7 posted 09-08-2011 05:21 PM

I would not be bummed out . Fellow LJ who know what a great piece looks like have given you complements. Art is very subjective but true craftsmanship is not. Now you can give me the taper dimensions of the legs.

View WoodNuts's profile


74 posts in 2916 days

#8 posted 09-08-2011 09:57 PM

Ya thats a let down, but not a reflection on you, or your craftsmanship.
Keep your chin up, my man.

All this dead poet (I mean Artist) stuff, Jeez.

I bet it would sell if you plaster a pic of Opra on it?

-- ...there's a fix fer dat...

View CharlesNeil's profile (online now)


2389 posts in 3839 days

#9 posted 09-09-2011 08:10 PM

Windshields and bugs, diamonds and stone , I understand,, been thrown under the bus a time or 40 , stay the course, “beauty lies in the eye of the beholder” , is true, Judges often look at what they like and not the whole picture, like food , too little salt, or too much, it all depends on taste, dont get upset, get even,,, stay the course,,, and ignore the critics, they will always be there, your work is worthy… I will also tell you this, I have seen judges reject something one year and the same win first next,,, its not a good barometer of your work, but as stated more the taste of the judge,I looked at your work, its not my taste, but that doesnt matter, I like what you have done,, and your execution , I would have given you high marks, just my .02 , shake it off and head for the next one, quitters never win,, never …

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 2661 days

#10 posted 09-13-2011 10:45 PM

And yet an “artist” got his products up on yesterday that included—

A walnut crotch slab table. The table legs were clear, square plastic columns. Eric_S and I had quite a laugh over it.

The price? On sale? $10k+ (reg. $15k+)

It’s all about being in the right place at the right time, I guess.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View WoodNuts's profile


74 posts in 2916 days

#11 posted 09-15-2011 08:37 AM

+1 Your work is worthy.

-- ...there's a fix fer dat...

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2954 days

#12 posted 09-15-2011 03:39 PM

I have spent most of my life being subject to this process—first as a painter, then as a photographer and now as a photographer & woodworker. I’ve also been on the other side of the coin, editing work to put into collections.

Things to keep in mind:

-Things in a collection (of any kind) must be cohesive and form a good show. In a gallery, this can mean that pieces need to flow from one to the next and make sense, without any outlying pieces or repetitions. It is extremely likely that your piece simply does not fit this. Maybe they didn’t have any allotted floor spaces right now for this, maybe they already had a table, maybe they were going for a feel that didn’t mesh with this (fairly modern) table. Maybe they want to do just paintings next season. who knows.

-You only spoke to two galleries. I’ve spoken to 30+ before I find one to host my stuff. It’s just like job hunting- sometimes you get lucky on the first or second application, sometimes it takes dozens or dozens of dozens before you find a match.

-I agree about the portfolio comment. Maybe they wanted somebody (somebodies) with a strong body of work so that the potential client could say “I love this, but I really wanted (something kind of different)”. For photography, I often provide the gallery or store with a portfolio they can keep that has a wide range of images of what I do, so that the client can see a bigger range than is up in the store. On your projects page I only see one table- it would be nice to see more. Of course, it can be unreasonable to just go and build a bunch of tables so it IS a fine balance. But you have two boxes that demonstrate the same aesthetic pretty well, so that is a start.

-Are the galleries you looked at selling work too? Have you considered that your price point might not be in line with them?

It sounds like you want to push your work into the more fine art range of things, which is a great direction in my opinion (although one not well travelled around here, because frankly, it IS hard.). I disagree with the comment that fine art furniture must be non-functional. I am pushing my recent table as fine art and it is specifically intended to be used. I am just starting my own journey of pushing my woodworking into the gallery audience but from my extensive experience with photography, I’m going to be looking for galleries all over the world. It may be a pain (and expensive) to transport that furniture to say, Europe or Japan or California, but there’s no sense in forcing your work into a local market that may not be interested in it when other people elsewhere are.

Please don’t be disheartened! Rejection is (unfortunately) a big part of success.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3276 days

#13 posted 09-15-2011 04:15 PM

Just look at it as their loss and not yours.

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 3974 days

#14 posted 09-15-2011 04:34 PM

Break one of the legs off, call it Hobbled Oppression and tell em you won’t take less than ten grand for it.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View derosa's profile


1572 posts in 2804 days

#15 posted 09-15-2011 04:54 PM

My dad was rejected by the same art show for 18 years before getting in and winning first place 4 years straight. During that 18 year span his work was hung twice in the first place spot because the museums that hung the show disagreed with the verdict of the judges who awarded the show. He was also rejected by a guild because of the way he looked but had to wait 6 months to get his two submissions back because the guild had decided to include them in their traveling show during the selection process. They didn’t realize that the works were from someone they had rejected. Art people can be pretty messed up in the selection process.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

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