Earlier this week I submitted two paintings for the Albuquerque Public Art Program's open call for 2-dimensional art to be displayed in public places (libraries, bus stations, etc). Lots of artists submitted and only some will be accepted. I went through the application process in good faith but have very little hope that my artwork will be submitted. The competition will be intense and the works selected will probably be chosen simply because someone at the City likes it (as opposed to more rigorous selection criteria).
It is a total shot in the dark.
And that is OK.
There is an idea I've heard about called "100 Days of Rejection". It's pretty simple, you actively try to get rejections on a daily basis. It is a way of desensitizing yourself from hearing "no". From what I understand it has been applied in all walks of personal and professional life and is very successful.
I've started to apply it to my art submissions and whereas some people have spreadsheets and track the "100 Nos" very diligently I'm keeping it low key. I simply apply for stuff and don't attach a lot of emotion to the outcome.
So far it's working. When I get a "thanks but no thanks" message I just shrug and look for the next opportunity. And when I get a "thank you, you have been selected" I smile, put all the important deadlines on my calendar, and start looking for the next opportunity.
Either way there is always another opportunity.
Many organizations issue "open calls" for art. They typically have a theme or a medium or a level of expertise listed and if you have something that fits you apply. Often there is a fee involved and I've started to discern that some of these open calls are really just a way for an organization to collect money so I am becoming more picky about where I apply.
Overall I'm getting pretty comfortable with not getting selected and think of the whole thing like being in an ice cream shop. There are millions of flavors of ice cream: chocolate, vanilla, rocky road, mint chocolate chip, cheesecake, etc. Some people like one and other people like another. They are all good and just because someone likes strawberry that doesn't mean that cookie dough isn't also good. It's just personal preference.
I just need to find the people like like my flavor of art.
And to do that I need to make a million shots in the dark. Eventually a shot will hit the target.