I wish I could take credit for Little Mr. Rejected Portfolio, but it came with my cube.
After rejecting a pile of samples (going back to 2009! yikes) last week, the Rejectionist‘s latest essay un-contest struck a chord. Artists are rejected for all sorts of reasons, since each imprint is looking for something specific, so there are many illustrators that are wonderful, but we still have to reject them. This isn’t about them. It is the worst of the slush that haunts you in your sleep, and this ode is dedicated to those.
What Form Rejection Means To Me
Form rejection means never having to say “I’m sorry that you can’t draw”. Instead, we say, “Unfortunately, we are not looking for any projects containing your style at this time”.
Form rejection is supplying words when you’re speechless. Speechless at gruesome cartoons, horrifyingly inappropriate books about excrement, marker doodles, anime, scary babies, unintelligible collage, and even more unintelligible query letters.
Form rejection means please, please stop sending us oil paintings of your dogs. No matter how good they are. No matter how much I like them.
Form rejection means passing the buck on bad writing. “The art department does not review dummy books for manuscripts. For editorial comments and selection, please submit separately to the editorial department.” It means wasting extra trees, postage stamps and editorial interns’ time (sorry, interns!).
Form rejection means returning your dummy book in a SASE so that it doesn’t go in the trash with the other samples, thereby saving a few trees. Maybe.
Form rejection means signing your name as “The Art Department” because you’re afraid of stalkers and angry, unemployed illustrators calling your extension/burning down your apartment.
Form rejection means crushing hopes and dreams. Of every mom, dad or grandparent in the country that has a story they love about their kids. Of every artist who probably went to your school at some point. Of children – and adults – that draw and send in pictures in crayon or colored pencil. To them we say, “Thanks again for your interest and for sharing your work with us.”
Form rejection means feeling guilty for all of the children/parents/grandparents whose hopes and dreams are to illustrate children’s books. So you keep copying and pasting individual comments, finding something constructive in your heart to help them improve, and giving them a glimmer of hope that they could “feel free to send us samples of your work as you progress”… until you really don’t have a form rejection at all anymore, do you? You’ve just made it personal.
“Best of luck in your future endeavors!”