Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Failure, Rejection and How to Move On

Failure, Rejection and How to Move On

Today with my diploma students I was discussing failure. It's a fairly meaty subject, and one that people respond to differently.

In the creative sector, we fail all the time. 

I failed at least ten times last week alone; rejection of work to blogs, (My Modern Met) a drawing mistake during a work-in-progress, (private commission) and perhaps worst of all, failure to help an old lady I saw on the street cross the road.  Seriously - her forlone image haunted me all the way home.  So much so, that I wanted to head back the way I had come in the hope that she was still there, just so that I could redeem myself. 

And so, today with my students, I asked them all to identify a moment in their lives where they believed they had failed, and invited them to share with everyone in the room how they dealt with it.

I received a variety of different answers, many varying situations; job interviews gone wrong, relationships broken apart, feeling like an inadequate parent. 

Russell and

The list went on, and on. 

The more we discussed it, and the more 'failures' we shared, it was clear that all these forays of misadventure had one thing in common; in one way or another, every one of my students had learned from the experience. 

We use failure as an important learning device everyday, whether we realise it or not. 

My rejection from My Modern Met had me panicked, and that panic, coupled with a fierce desire to prove my worth, resulted in my landing my next big job (long story!) 

A student in my class was rejected from their dream course, and then landed a coveted place at one of the best colleges in the country, through the same frenzied desire to prove himself.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but I guess I'm trying to say: embrace your failures. They were probably meant to happen. Your defeat will only make you work harder, be better, and in the end, result in you becoming more awesome.

To see some of my (occasionally rejected!) work, check out my new Tumblr page! 

End : )


  1. My failure, or at least my most recent one, was to read this post yesterday when I first saw the link. I have now redeemed myself. Thank you for the wonderful words. Mistakes, which are failure by a different name, have often lead to advancements in science and medicine, new forms or directions for art, and the list goes on. Failure or loss isn't the end of life, but the next step on the ladder.

    1. Thanks Craig! So glad it's useful. I always find I go through ups and downs with this kind of work, but it's always good to remember that failure is a big part of getting better. : )