December 5, 2016

Apply Yourself!

Today I’d like to remind you about a couple things you artist-types out there can and should be applying for, and also talk for a minute about learning to withstand rejection.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-3-28-18-pmFirst off, here’s a reminder about Signal-Return‘s Poster Competition. The deadline to enter is approaching. I am one of the judges, but DON’T SEND STUFF DIRECTLY TO ME. Do send it here, and please feel encouraged to share this link with your friends, colleagues and students.


Secondly, for ya’ll Detroiters, it’s Kresge time. You need to be doing this.

In 2017, Kresge Arts in Detroit will award 18 fellowships of $25,000 each – nine in Literary Arts and nine in Visual Arts. Kresge Artist Fellowships are no-strings-attached prizes given to both emerging and established artists whose commitment to artistic achievement, in contemporary or traditional forms, is evident in the quality of their work.

In addition, two Gilda Awards, $5,000 no-strings-attached prizes solely for emerging artists, will be awarded – one in Literary Arts and one in Visual Arts. Gilda Awards recognize artists who are early in their careers, are gaining momentum, and who demonstrate exceptional potential through creative risk-taking and pushing the boundaries of their chosen art form.

Key Dates:
Thursday, December 1, 2016: Online Application Opens
Thursday, January 19, 2017: Application Deadline
Check here for an FAQ doc about the program, and additional media elements, including an animated video created by 2016 Gilda Award recipient Ellen Coons.

Sure, you think. It’s easy for you to say I should apply for stuff, but you don’t know how much getting rejected sucks!

Oh sweetie, let me tell you something: my birthday is on Dec. 1, which happens to be the day that a lot of programs announce the winners of their various grants, because it’s almost the end of the tax year. So not only do I know about getting rejected, I know about getting rejected on my birthday. A lot. I’ve also been stood up twice on my birthday, but that’s because I have historically been attracted to terrible people. Off topic.

What I’m saying is, learning to withstand rejection is a skill, and one that is deeply relevant to being a successful anything, but especially a successful artist. Because there is more rejection out there than acceptance. Here’s the thing, though – except in the case of substances you are medically dependent on, not getting the thing you want won’t kill you. You can let it make you a bitter and unhappy person, if you choose, or you can let the fire of rejection forge you into a steel-plated juggernaut of application power.

Remember: You didn’t have that thing to begin with, so you will not die if you don’t get it.

Remember: It costs you nothing to try, other than ego. And if you’re anything like me, you have LIMITLESS amounts of ego.

Remember: There is a part of your brain that fears the vulnerability of really wanting something with your whole heart, and that part of your brain is always going to try to short-circuit your efforts, through procrastination, fear, and distraction, in a misguided effort to protect your feelings.

Remember: You do not need this protection. You are a juggernaut. You really gonna let some shitty form letter slow you down?

Remember: I believe in you.

So get out there and do the thing.

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