How to deal with artistic rejection

How to deal with artistic rejection is the topic of my newest comedy bit since my favorite comedy is rooted in truth and sadness. In my bit I exaggerate and make fun of rejection, whereas in real life it is sometimes hard to do just that. As long as you make art, you will be rejected. The only way for no one to hate you is to leave the paper blank. How can you keep on making art with all the scars rejection has given you? I made these guidelines and posted them on my instagram stories some weeks ago. I got lots of feedback for it so I’m posting them on here too. They’re a hybrid of personal insights, all those self-help books I once read and good conversations with artist friends. Thanks for that.

  1. Don’t let it break you. Keep on doing what you love! Remember why you’re creative in the first place. Don’t stop.
  2. Don’t change your art for people that don’t matter. Let’s say a certain institution rejects you. Ask yourself, why do you want them to accept you so badly? Do you really fit in there? Would you have to change the core of your work for them to like you? That’s the artsy equivalent to angsty teenagers doing shit to be friends with shitty people. Don’t do that. Find a way to get appraisal from the right institutions.
  3. Rejection means: people see you and your work. Just keep it up until the right people see it. Seek people that like you and not just tolerate you.
  4. Keep praise from friends and fanmail in a feel good folder. Go through it when you think everyone hates you. Because that is never true!
  5. Not everyone will love your art. And that’s good. If you really want to appeal to everyone, you’ll eventually water down your art and it will be printed on cheap postcards at tourist shops. The more specific your art the more specific is your target audience. Finding that is hard, as I can tell you gladly with my three fans.
  6. Feel the pain somatically. Can you turn it into creative energy? Like make a sculpture with a buzz saw, draw a watercolor with tears and mascara, go on a gun rampage with a paintball gun, write a funny diss track? What do you feel? Anger? Anger can paint great paintings, write deep jokes and beautiful songs. I don’t glorify pain, but often today’s tears become tomorrow’s soil.
  7. Remember your work is not you. This is especially hard to acknowledge as a stand-up comedian. When the audience hates you, they hate your essence. Still, I try to separate Ingrid from stage Ingrid, an even more brazen, ballsy, callous version of me. Keeps me sane.
  8. Many others get rejected, too. You’re not the only one experiencing it. Don’t feel special, ha! Read biographies of famous artists. Which hardship they went through to follow their dreams. (I don’t know if this is just the urban legend of Arles, but apparently, Van Gogh has never sold one paining in his lifetime). By sharing your own story you can connect with others, who feel the same. Just don’t get dragged into an unproductive, downward spiral of lamentation and self-pity. Lament and then get back to work. These jokes don’t write themselves.
  9. Spoil you inner child. Remember what makes you happy. Now do that! That chocolate cake, a warm bath, a visit to the circus? Do it!
  10. Can you learn anything from it? Maybe there was some tiny truth in that rejection mail from that art school afterall? Maybe there is something I can actually do better? We can often improve either our art or our attitude, after we wiped away those tears.
  11. Now, focus on your next steps, what’s ahead, the future, new goals, good people that matter!
how to deal with artistic rejection
how to deal with artistic rejection

None of the above tips work for you? Well, there is one last, tiny truth, that hurts the most about rejection:

People do not get hired based on quality. Booking is arbitrary. No matter how much in control you are about your work, at some point you run into industry walls. It is merely up to you and your personal capacity to endure pain: you either jump over that wall, turn your back at it or smash your head against it.

Steve Martin’s famous quote „be so good they can’t ignore you“ is a myth. If you are that good, you will not need them anymore. 

Institutions reject good artists. That’s a common industry practice, so their own prima donnas won’t get scratched. If a music label builds up the next star, they buy up all similar artists to eliminate competition. German has a beautiful word for this: Karteileiche („card file corpse“ – a sleeping member, no one intends to wake up). Besides that, institutions send out harsh rejections to keep up a climate of fear to hold on to a respect and artistic relevance they have lost long ago. 

So here’s my last advice: Surround yourself with good people to stay sane. Develop and take care of meaningful friendships. Painter Rose Wylie says „unsuccessfulness gives you freedom.“ Stay independent. Find a source of happiness outside of your art. Be good to yourself. <3

Fruit Flies were my Muse at Sommerakademie für Komische Kunst

It all started with a fruit fly infestation in my apartment this summer. Mind you, I’m untidy but not filthy. Fruit flies magically give birth to themselves once they smell food. And I didn’t immediately take out the melon rind and apparently became the queen of my own fruit fly colony. 

The timing was especially unlucky because I was to leave to Lake Tahoe the very next day. I thought I had extinguished all larvae. Two weeks later I came back to a fly covered apartment as if I had forgotten a dead body. 

Still Life with Fruit Flies
Still Life with Fruit Flies (feat. Matisse)

 

It was useful that I learned how to golf in Lake Tahoe because these new hitting skills came in handy. In a three hour kill streak I murdered all flies. And for those I couldn’t reach on the ceiling I set up vinegar death traps. And here’s a tip for you, if you ever have a fly plague yourself:

Do not put the vinegar traps next to open windows. In fact close all windows. Because all the flies outside will be attracted to your little vinegar cocktail party. 

Also, don’t leave food or trash around ever. In my fridge, I now have a unit for food, one for drinks and one for waste.

And lastly, do not leave empty bottles around. My fly tribe did not survive, as I had thought, on that one melon juice stain. Judged by an enormous fly graveyard next to the empty bottles, they had lived off molecular beer particles. Until all the alcohol was gone and many addicts dropped dead. 

 

Self Portrait with Fruit Flies (feat. Matisse)

 

I’m happy I had a fruit fly infestation. 

The day after my massacre I went to Kassel to attend the Sommerakademie für Komische Kunst. For one week, twenty cartoonists from Germany, Austria and Switzerland met, drew cartoons and drank beer under the guidance of German comic legend Gerhard Seyfried and the Caricatura Gallery. And my fruit flies functioned as my muse for ten artworks, cartoons and even paintings. I included some of them in this post. All of our works will now be shown live at Stadtmuseum Kassel opening September 14th.

 

Interieur with Fruit Flies (feat. Matisse)

 

 

And here, my dear blog readers, a gallery with photos both from the Summer School and Lake Tahoe (all Sommerakademie photos (c) Caricatura Kassel):

Some thoughts on pants and dresses

I once saw a wardrobe at a museum that could have been mine.  It had a sign „coats, please no pants“. (Their emergency exit plan’s sign was „this is no artwork“ and their toilet paper labeled „for free“. So yes, a great museum right up my alley).

Personally, I don’t wear pants. I hate them. I only wear dresses. A flowing fabric, basically a fancy blanket, that I wrap around my slack body. Wear a dress and you’re good to go! Unless you’re actually wearing a blanket, dresses will always make you look fashionable. People mistake my laziness for style. With pants, you have to match a top and a bottom. Really, who has time for that? Dresses are cold? Always have tights in your purse, like a good robber.

I’m short and therefore I only wear dresses that go just above my knees. Anything substantially longer makes me look like a character from The Handmaid’s Tale.
I once visited my friend Cindy in Uganda and didn’t check the dress code before (a tourist’s Russian Roulette). In Uganda, it’s perfectly okay to go topless. But it is not okay to show your knees. Yeah! Your filthy, revealing, overly sexual knees, you dirty thing you! Since I didn’t do my research, I got there with my short dresses. I had nothing appropriate to wear. I was a disgrace to her. And my tiny friend’s pants didn’t fit me. Ugh, see, pants again! I ended up wearing her curtains. I hid behind one, rolled myself in it and in a elegant pirouette I ripped it off the wall and on my body. Good to go! Still better than pants!

Pants suck because they have to fit well. If too long, you drag them through the mud. Or cuff them and tell people „they’re supposed to be like that“. (But deep down you know you look ridiculous. And promise yourself next time you don’t give up shopping jeans that fast).
A knee long dress is too long? Fine, they may cover my filthy knees then. A dress too big? Fine, I’ll use a belt and constrict myself until I look like a hot balloon dog. A dress to tight? I throw it in the closet and cry “I will loose weight at some point for sure“.

So, here, I have some shopping advice for you: Before getting ill fitted clothes, humble yourself and go to a mean but honest shop assistant. Advice and insult often live on the same street. A saleslady once told me „nah, don’t get that black dress. It emphasize your dark circles and wrinkles.“ Um, excuuuuse me? And also, get me all the white dresses you have. (I did almost punch her in the face though for saying „white is en vogue in Pari“.)

Here are some more jeans trends that I first posted on my instagram stories. They’re all inspired by my last unsuccessful shopping trip:

 

More Pics Pics Pics

I talked to my photographer Sergey Sanin from Hamburg. He asked „do you wanna do a shooting at your place in Berlin? I wanna try something out“. „Sure“ I said. He goes „okay I will send parts of my equipment to you via post“. 

Wait, what did I just agree to? A quick shooting with, well, a camera? Or a super elaborate studio production that apparently includes shipping heavyweights in trucks and cargo ships. Well turns out the latter! On the day of the shooting, we carried up more bags and boxes than when I moved in.

We took up so much space that we had to rearrange furniture. (Which was good because I swept under the couch for the first time.)  The lamps and metal gear you see in the following pictures are not my usual desk lamps. They are his bulky weights for complicated shootings. Boy was I glad to just be in front of the camera. I only had to look good. Well and here are five photos out of five hundred to prove just that.

The shooting was inspired by works of Brad Trent and by Chris Buck’s photo series uneasy. He even liked our instagram post! (This will be the only time I get excited about someone liking my instagram, okay?). Now Sergey is back in Hamburg and, if he’s not slain by his equipment, he’s probably working on more editing. So long, here are some first results and outtakes:

 

HIdden in this photo: a beastly photo bomb and my work ethic (somewhere on my desk)

 

Here are two outtakes from when my foster dog needed more attention than me:

 

The two following photos of me starring into the void are basically a photo quiz: Find nine differences and you can win an iphone (well maybe, if I find it, a broken iphone2 cable):

Was soll’s, here are two more: