My undergrad professor, Gerry Wubben, used to always say to me, “you’ll get more rejections than acceptances.” Hearing that as an undergrad doesn’t make it easier when it actually happens. The more it happens the more you get used to it. I recall one year in graduate school I sent to fifteen shows and got accepted into two. These things are a part of the life of an artist. The other day as I was cleaning my studio, I found a few letters that have always stood out to me as very different from other rejection/acceptance letters.
Many of you may be applying for tenure track positions right now. I’ve always thought of it as two hundred mice going for one tiny piece of cheese. It’s tough! Right out of grad school I was sending forty applications a year (back when there were that many jobs) and I had piles of rejection letters. One year I got a call for an interview and then they never called me back to interview – I never got a rejection letter either. COLD! Most of the letters were very considerate and addressed the following: apologies for not being selected, something about the number of applicants, appreciation for sending an application and well wishes in your job search. Having been on both sides of the situation as an applicant and search committee member, I understand the sensitivity of the situation. The letter I received below hilariously cut to the core and left out all the fluff….although by September (these are usually sent out in the Spring), I probably figured out that I didn’t get the job.
When you receive an acceptance letter, there is a feeling of euphoria that can affect the rest of your day. Getting into a show or having a proposal accepted is an awesome feeling that validates what you have been working on. The letters usually embrace that…”congrats! You are a righteous artist and you are invited to join the ranks of these other righteous artists. Join us in righteousness.” Every acceptance letter I have ever received has given me joy….except this one below. I found it odd and off putting that I would get a critique in an acceptance letter. It should start off by saying “Congrats, we begrudgingly accept you.”
Juried show rejection letters have a pretty common theme to them – they usually appear very formal and a little on the apologetic side, as they understand that rejection can be hard to take sometimes. There was one rejection letter for a juried show that has always stuck out to me. This is by far my FAVORITE rejection letter I have ever received. I thought it was so funny, that I wasn’t even annoyed that I didn’t get into the show. I have highlighted the best part.
I hope you found these as funny as I did and good luck to all of you that will be submitting to shows, jobs or whatever else this year.
PS – Here’s an article I found that analyzes the academic rejection letter.