Put on your war paint
My illustration for Neil Gaiman's August Tale
The last few weeks has been very trying. I worked really hard to finish the illustrations for Neil Gaiman's A Calendar of Tales project (if you haven't heard of this, check it out here). I was very happy with how they turned out. My favorite is to the left, and it was for the August tale. These were my first real attempt to use my mixed media art style to illustrate another writer's work. I found the experience quite interesting and inspiring. Plus, it was a really exciting contest. Neil Gaiman would actually be looking through the entries and choosing which illustrations would be published with his short stories. Thus, the prospect that Neil Gaiman would be looking at my artwork was thrilling in and of itself. And if my work got selected? It would get published! And not just published, but published in a book by Neil Gaiman!! I was so excited about this, I could barely contain myself. I told everyone I knew about it-posted the images on my Facebook page, even wrote about it on this blog. I got a lot of responses from fans. A few said they thought my submissions were way more sophisticated than some of the other pieces. So, extremely excited, I waited patiently to hear back. I figured it would take a few weeks for Neil Gaiman to sift through all the entries, so I wasn't worried when I hadn't heard anything by the end of the week.
Late Saturday night, I was scrolling through my tumblr trying to make myself be tired enough to sleep. Still curious about the Calendar of Tales project, I searched for it as a tag. The first post I see is one by an artist who had submitted a piece to the contest. Underneath their artwork, they state it has been "shortlisted." The following posts that I find are all similar; posts by artists excited that their work has been choosen as a finalist by Neil Gaiman. One even posted the e-mail they were sent. With a sinking heart, I realize that I did not receive any e-mail like that...meaning none of my works were selected as finalists, meaning Neil Gaiman looked at my work. And he didn't like it.
Needless to say, I got terribly depressed. I've never been terribly good at rejection, but this was worse. This felt personal. Maybe because I love Neil Gaiman's work, or because I felt close to him through social networking, or maybe it was just because I actually knew who was judging my work. Either way, I was crushed. So many emotions ran through me that night. I felt as if my heart had been broken, as if I had lost a friend. Neil Gaiman, who I look up to as a master of the fantasy world I am trying to belong to, saw my work and did not like it. Or, I suppose, liked others better than mine. With this single decision, I felt as if all my hopes of becoming a successful fantasy artist were foiled. It was as if Neil Gaiman himself was telling me to give up.
Now, even at the time, I knew all of those things weren't really true. But snapping myself out of this emotional turmoil was tough. However, I did recover, in thanks to my wonderful partner, Serena, my best friend Erin and my cousin Jenny, among others. Through their support, I was able to remember that one rejection does not mean failure. As Erin messaged me:
"One rejection does [not] mean failure or lack of talent. Rowling submitted [Harry Potter] to 11 place[s] before publishing so don't give up [you're] too good for that."
So after a few days of depression followed by encouragement from my family and friends, I am back to working. I will not give up. This opportunity was not a complete loss. He may not have chosen my work this time, but that doesn't mean he hated it. And even if he did, there are people out there who will (and DO) like my work. I will keep creating and I will keep pursuing my vision.
To end this entry, I'd like to quote Fall Out Boy's newest song, "The Phoenix." which has become my mantra for the past few days. I find it fitting, too, that it has the same reference to this mythological creature as the August Tale, by Neil Gaiman.
We are the jack-o-lanterns in July
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Kendra's rantings and ramblings about various topics, including art making, events, writing, movies, music and other inspirations.