Rejection is part of the deal

rejection illustration

Something weird happened. Well, weird… I found the coincidence remarkable.

This morning I was typing my weekly blog post. I had a topic in mind but decided to write from my heart. Before I knew it I was typing the story of how I much I struggled in art school. One of my teachers told me: “Just stop pursuing a career in illustration. There are plenty of illustrators already and besides: you’re not that good any way.”
I was heart broken, shattered into pieces. I focused on graphic design, graduated (with praise) but still…

I wrote down the whole story for my blog post but mostly about how I quit drawing after that ‘advice’ of my teacher, not picking up a pencil for five years. How I worked as a graphic designer and art director, and as a photographer, after my graduation. All very creative but not illustrating.
And how I started drawing again because, you know: there’s no other path for me than drawing.
While I was not drawing I realised how much illustration is part of me. It’s not just a job for me, it’s my life. *insert dramatic classical music*

Even though I quit for five years because some lame ass teacher told me to, I did pick it up again. And I worked bloody hard for everything I have now. I was rejected so many times! It wasn’t easy, as you might have read in my last post. I can’t tell you how many times I was crying and considering to give up on it. Trying to make illustration your main source of income is sometimes like finding a unicorn: you go through every place on earth to find it but once you’re on that unicorn, it’s pretty magic.

journal doodles marloes de vriesFor me it helped majorly drawing and writing my Journal Doodles, which was later published as a book. In those little daily drawings I could draw and write down all my fears, joys, anger, everything. I got me on the right path again.

So, that’s what I wrote this morning.

But I didn’t post the blog. Because I was thinking rationally: I already posted a blog coming from the heart last week and this week was supposed to be a practical blog.
I thought: I will skip this week and write something else next week.

Until 20 minutes ago. I was scrolling through Twitter although I barely use it. I saw someone ‘mentioned’ me on it and to my surprise @m_atelier posted this photo:

flow magazine calendar
Photo by @m_atelier

It’s a page on the daily calendar by Flow Magazine. A year ago they asked me for some tips and tricks on illustrating and this was one of the tips I gave. I wasn’t informed on which day they would print it.

How remarkable is it that it’s on the same day as I was writing a blog post on the exact same topic, using the exact same anecdote?!
I don’t really believe in coincidences. Sometimes something is just the way it is for a reason.

So today, even though it’s almost Wednesday, I want to tell you: persevere when your heart tells you to.



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  • Reply Wening Sekar 19/10/2016 at 1:40 am

    You know, your blog posting always motivate me. The hard work is the fun part because it provide the reason to stand up after some break down.
    Thank you very much for your blog posting.
    Love from Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

    • Reply Marloes 21/10/2016 at 2:40 pm

      Thanks so much, so kind of you to say!

  • Reply Elisa Ansuini 19/10/2016 at 1:44 am

    I am a girl who faced your own downward and now struggle to climb. but i have not had someone to put me off like you .. I succeeded very well alone! I worked in graphic design but always with a sense of dissatisfaction and I thought that after all it was normal to feel that way. Then something clicked, almost a desire for freedom, I can not explain in any other way. In this period then read your post is for me a blessing because I don’t deny that the moments of discouragement are not lacking! Today was just one of those bad days and your words have rescued me. And so I wanted to thank you, simply.
    Sorry for my english.. I’m italian😁

  • Reply PTAK 19/10/2016 at 7:33 am

    Thanks for this inspiring article Marloes.
    Now I have to go back to work, persevere, and continue to believe in my dreams. I have no other choice with such an article ^^
    Have a sunny day,

  • Reply Kasia 19/10/2016 at 9:09 am

    Awwwww…… Let’s make a group hug please!
    …..It took me 10 years to pick up the pencil again…..
    And I’m still struggling with the voice of my teacher saying I can’t do it.

    • Reply Mathilde 21/10/2016 at 2:34 pm

      Just do it, just start…. Take little things in daily life. Maybe make it for someone you like, to tell about your life?

    • Reply Stephie 17/12/2016 at 5:43 am

      I know I’m late, but I really want that group hug now (: wish I could see your drawings because no matter how good or bad they are, I think they will matter because they mean something to you (:

  • Reply Ayushi 19/10/2016 at 9:19 am

    Thank you for the motivation Marloes. I am going through this time where rejection is all I am facing, its hard to get up in the morining sometimes and pull out my sketchbook to draw. But I know drawing is the only thing that helps me stay sane and happy in the long term so I usually keep at it. Your blog post came at the right time, perseverence is all I need now… Thanks again. You are an inspiration. 😊 And please do keep posting these ones that come from your heart, they are as helpful as practical advice!

  • Reply Jannah 19/10/2016 at 10:24 am

    Wow this really strikes a chord with me. I was lucky that my art teacher was enthusiastic about my art skills, but maybe too much because I was convinced to take a two-year art qualification in less than a year in school. That made me miserable and hate art, and it’s now … oh crap twelve years since I could pick up a pencil without fear and revulsion πŸ™ But you’re right about those daily little exercises, I thought I had lost art forever until yesterday when my little sister declared that she’s the better artist D: (Turns out she was right after all!)

    Anyway I think that you’re right about never giving up, but at the same time starting with something simple and what you like to do. I hope I’ll never forget that and keep practising to pick up that pencil πŸ™‚

  • Reply Martina 20/10/2016 at 12:46 am

    Great post – so encouraging! I don’t want to know how many people have given up on their dreams because of terrible teachers…

  • Reply Mathilde 21/10/2016 at 2:32 pm

    Haha, thats nice! Well, I am happy you start drawing again! And there are never never never enough illustrators, this world need a lot of them to make it more pretty…. Don’t you think?

  • Reply Pri 22/10/2016 at 3:42 pm

    Dear Marloes,
    I’ve admired your work for years and find it so easy to relate to your drawings coz they are so close to how the real world is and what a normal person feels on a daily basis.
    I used to draw in school and gave it up after being rejected at design school when I was just 18. As no one from my family pursued a career in art I had no one to tell me that giving up is not a pod idea. So I left sketching and studied business management and slogged like any corporate fool.
    3 years ago I quit to start drawing again. I’m not a trained artist so you can imagine the different kinds of fear I harbour in me….fear of rejection, fear of what others will think of my art, fear of not having my own style …. oh I can go on abt it
    However every time I read your blog I am inspired to keep trying. I didn’t get to go to art school, but your posts are like the lessons I never had. So thank you for your kindness and sharing your skills and experience

  • Reply Hanna 24/10/2016 at 3:23 pm

    It’s really sad that so many of us had such a bad experience with teachers! I have always drawn myself as a cartoon character. One day my favourite teacher in art school told me, that this character was the dumbest thing he ever saw and that i never should draw it again. I was so devastated, because this little character belonged to me since highschool and i loved it so much. But after all, he was my teacher, he would know better than me, right? A few months, i drew nothing. Then i thought, who is he to tell me what i should or should not draw?? So i started again and it was the best decision. Ten years later, my little character visits my sketchbook everyday πŸ™‚
    I’m currently working in an ad agency, but someday i will start my own business with my illustrations πŸ™‚

    I love your blog, your articles and your illustrations and am very happy that your teacher couldn’t stop you from drawing!

    Best wishes, Hanna

  • Reply Lieneke 10/11/2016 at 11:12 am

    Superbedankt voor deze blogs Marloes. Het geeft me zoveel herkenning! Ik werk als zelfstandig illustrator voor 1,5 jaar nu. Durfde er pas echt voor te gaan toen ik in mijn master vastliep. Ik heb geen netwerk met mensen die hetzelfde doen. Daarom helpt het me extra om te lezen over jouw struggles, omdat ik ze zo herken en dan begrijp: het hoort er gewoon bij en het betekent totaal niet dat ik ooit op moet geven. Niet dat ik dat kan ook… tekenen is wat ik ben. En dat herken ik Γ³Γ³k al in jouw stukken πŸ˜‰ bedankt marloes!

  • Reply Caroline 04/10/2017 at 12:04 pm

    Such a nice motivating post Marloes!
    This little calendar looks like it is full of good chunks of advice. Which edition of FLOW was it in, do you remember?

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