It’s interesting Ileanna wrote about rejection in her last blog post because I’ve been thinking about that same exact subject. What’s also interesting is that she was also able to relate the theme of rejection to someone on her mind. She had reflected on Joe Hill’s literary career. I, on the other hand, had been reading Grace Jones’ memoirs and found inspiration in her past encounters with rejection.
I had a disappointment recently. I reached out to someone I venerated. This person did not take to my art. In other words, I was flat out rejected. I don’t generally invest worth in the approval of others but this was someone I genuinely admired. They saw my work but it just wasn’t for them. I was disappointed but I may have taken it worse had I not just read the following on Grace Jones’ career; When Grace Jones set out to pursue a modeling career she constantly faced rejection, primarily because of her race and androgyny. When she did book jobs, she’d have to do her own make up because no one back then worked on dark skin. In 1970, She moved to France on the advice of her manager but fared worse initially. No one would even try to get her work. When she confronted her agent on her lack of jobs, he told her “you know, trying to sell a black model in Paris is like trying to sell a used car that nobody wants.” She immediately cursed him out and set out hungrier than ever. She would very shortly thereafter model for designers like Yves St. Laurent, Claude Montana, and Kenzo Takada. By 1985, she was on the covers of magazines like Vogue and Elle, became a disco sensation and a Bond Girl. The obviously inspiring part of this story is that despite being rejected by this guy with influence she became a superstar. But that’s not why I relate to the story. I relate to it because sometimes you’re rejected for any number of reasons you can’t control. Grace Jones couldn’t not be black or androgynous looking. But the modeling agent was wrong to relate her to ‘a car that nobody wants”. Sometimes it’s just about finding your audience. Grace Jones definitely isn’t for everyone. But she changes the lives of anyone who does get her. I’d rather appreciate the audience I have and continue seeking them out as opposed to create work that lives up to someone else’s expectations. When you try to please everyone you end up creating inoffensive mediocrity. And who’s life is changed by that?