A Slice of Humble Pie Served Up by Craftgawker

Here’s a story about craftgawker, and self esteem, and being human.

So, for those of you who don’t know, craftgawker is a site a lot like Pinterest in that it boasts a smattering of inspiring images just asking to be collected and clicked on.  It’s truly a beautiful site if you have an eye for things created by hand.

However, I have learned recently that craftgawker is not like Pinterest in one noteworthy way: you have to submit your crafty posts for approval (two submissions at a time max).  You can’t just pin things willy-nilly.  Oh no.  There’s a process.  With clear winners and very clear losers.

Let me break it down for you with an analogy.

Pinterest : craftgawker :: youth-soccer-where-everyone-gets-a-trophy : the Olympics.  Catch my drift?

Yesterday, in an effort to explore a new way of connecting with crafters, I made seven different submissions to craftgawker.  Are you ready for the results?

Here is my golden child:

A Slice of Humble Pie Served Up by Craftgawker - via The Thinking Closet


And my six rejects:

A Slice of Humble Pie Served Up by Craftgawker - via The Thinking Closet

I like to call this collage: “So you think you can take photos?  Think again.”

Now, as a courtesy, they do at least tell you why your submissions were rejected.  Here’s a screenshot of my feedback for “declined” submissions:

A Slice of Humble Pie Served Up by Craftgawker - via The Thinking Closet

Yeeska.  Apparently, my photos have low-lighting issues, as well as “awkward angles,” which I can only discern to mean that they prefer shots to be straight on?  Not from a 45 degree angle like my key hanger and wreath were.

Now, I know I have a lot to learn with photography – – in fact, it wasn’t until I started blogging two months ago that I even began to ask Mark about all the buttons on his fancy Cannon camera and learned about exposure, ISO, and shutter-speed.

So, why do I care so much what the anonymous judges at craftgawker think?  Why did it bother me so much to receive their feedback?  After all, I didn’t even really even know what craftgawker was until a few weeks ago.

Well, I did some reflecting, and I think that because there’s a submission process, craftgawker suddenly feels like this super elite club…and they let me in to one of their clubhouse meetings, but shut me out of six.  Which makes me desperately want to be in the club again.

There’s an essay I read in college by one of the wisest men to ever walk this earth, C. S. Lewis.  It’s called “The Inner Ring,” and it speaks directly to the topic of exclusivity and our futile quest to “belong.”

One of the most dominant elements [in our lives] is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside.

Apparently, that insecurity that plagued me (and probably most of us!) during my early school days is still within me – – to a lesser degree, but it’s still there.  That desire to be in the “cool” crowd.  To receive approval by those who judge “cool.”

If you stop and look, there are inner rings everywhere we turn.  In the workplace.  On Facebook.  Even at church.  I thought that as an adult, we’d grow out of them…but we don’t.  We’re still so very fragile and so very human.  So very starving to find a position on the “inside.”

What to do?  Lewis says it well.

The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it.

[Now, this is the part in the story where I talk to myself in the voice of Coach Eric Taylor from the critically-acclaimed TV series, Friday Night Lights…and to anyone else who needs to hear it.]

  • Remember why you do what you do.  When you start to do things for the sake of others’ approval, your work will suffer.  Your heart will ache to no end.
  • Strive to create spaces in your life that are open to all, not exclusive and ostracizing.  Because let’s be honest, being an outsider sucks!
  • And take the feedback for what it is – – feedback on something you did – – not who you are as a person.
  • Make sure not let the voices of the world rise above the voice of God.  He is the beginning and the end.  And if he says you matter, you matter.  No matter how many rejections you receive from craftgawker or anyone else.  Got it?

Okay, Coach.  I think I got it.

*            *            *            *

To read C. S. Lewis’s “The Inner Ring” in its entirety, click here.

Lovely comments so far...

  1. says

    Firstly – congrats on being featured! In my opinion all your projects deserved to be showcased 😀 I have had the same issue. I discovered Craft Gawkwer a couple of weeks ago and went to upload my chalkboard shoes but it was rejected due to lighting issues. I understand they want everything to look just so, and the fact there is a submission process does make it more elite, but somehow I get the impression they overlook the worth of the tutorial at times – your little bird pincushions being a prime example. Fingers cross you will get more on there soon (and maybe me too! lol) xxx

    • says

      Hannah, thank you for your thoughtful comment and oh so kind words. Guess I’m not alone in my craftgawker experience! And I think you’re right…it made me start to wonder is it just about getting the perfect picture or writing a really great tutorial. Those chalkboard shoes you made were awesome whether craftgawker accepted them or not! Truly, so creative.

  2. says

    I have about a 50% success rate with submitting to Craftgawker and have come to the conclusion it isn’t always about the quality of the photos (despite the “feedback”) – sometimes it’s more about a certain look or style that Craftgawker is devoted to promoting. I had a photo that was published in a national magazine rejected by CG due to “lighting issues”.

    I’m always happy when they do accept a photo, but I don’t worry about the rejections in the least.

    • says

      Kelly, that’s interesting to hear. Yes, O think you’re right about a certain “look” they’re promoting. You can see that by looking at what they do accept. Good for you for just letting it roll!

  3. Marmie says

    I found your project on craftgawker! Congratulations! And I love your discussion of the inner ring! I am borrowing some internet since we are still out of electricity, but I want to read that article in its entirety one of these days! So glad you aren’t discouraged about the rejections! Hugs!

  4. mark says

    This was a very entertaining- and thought provoking- blog story. I wouldn’t call any of our your creations “rejects”!

  5. sweetathenajess says

    I am so glad you talked about this. I ironically just stumbled upon your blog today via craft gawker. It is funny how you really want to be included in the “club” and the rejection stings when you are really proud of a project you spent many hours working on. I have in private referred to craft gawker as a “mean girl”, you want to not care what she thinks, but still some how find yourself looking for her approval. Thanks for being honest, while I of course don’t want you to feel rejected, it is nice to know that I’m not the only one who has had those feelings.

    • says

      Oh, the irony…. :-) I still had a couple of submissions pending at craftgawker when I first published this post. One was accepted (my pincushion birds), and they shockingly accepted one today (my 10 tips for new bloggers), and I say shockingly because I almost didn’t even submit it, my photo was so grainy. That just goes to show you can’t always get inside the heads of those judges.

      And your “mean girl” metaphor is apt; rings so true for me! No, you are certainly not alone. Thanks for your comment. It feels really good to process these things with others!

  6. says

    I like this post. :)

    I’ve partaken of the same humble pie you speak of, but from FoodGawker. That feedback about cropping to include more of the polka dot blue bird is pretty impressive! I’ve never received such specific feedback from FoodGawker. But I have figured out what kind of photos they’re looking for and how to adjust my photo submissions accordingly.

    I LOVE those reminders you included at the end! Especially the last one. That one’s golden. :)

    Thanks for this post! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one being humbled by Gawker. 😉

    • says

      Lol. Yes it was VERY specific feedback; that was one that they accepted after the second try. And just from looking at their site, you can get a sense of the “look” they want. I guess I’m still a beginner photographer, so I don’t always know how to achieve that look. Oh well!

      (And just so you know, I gawked at every photo on your blog. My, you make some yummy creations! As well as take some fantastic photos. I could use a lesson or ten from you!)

      Glad you enjoyed the reminders…we need to remind ourselves of some of those simple, but oh so important truths sometimes.


  7. says

    After finishing the post and feeling frustrated with craftgawker, I then read all of your comments and was amazed to see the good fruit of such a post! Mainly people sharing their humble pie stories with cg, their frustrations and hopes. Such commiseration and building each other up! Wow, I guess we really do have craftgawker to thank for that community building…truly!

    Also, I love how you went deeper to question what was so bothersome about the whole thing. Thanks for directing us to the Inner Ring article…it’s about time I read it again, so its going on the queue. Man, the word “rejected” is harsh, and it does seem like they’re a bit nit-picky. But I’m proud of your journey with it and your perseverance! There’s comfort in the fact you’re in good company, along with another who was “despised and rejected.” :)

    • says

      Wise words, dear sister. I’m so glad I decided to write this post rather than bottle up my feelings of “rejection.” Not only was it cathartic for me, but I felt so bonded to my crafting friends out there – – it was a great opportunity to encourage one other! Thanks, craftgawker!

  8. says

    omg Lauren, thanks so much for sharing. I am a photographer for 7 years now but when I do shots of my projects I try to make it simple and quick (not like a photoshoots with days of preparation beforehand) and I got rejected too. i was upset, but will be trying again of coarse. will be breaking that ring :) Happy New Year!!!

    • says

      I’m so glad to know this post was an encouragement to you. We craftgawker rejects gotta stick together! (Lol.) It was a great really process for me to write that post; especially to connect with other bloggers (like yourself) through the comments. We can remind each other of what’s important, and while it feels nice to get accepted by an exclusive site like craftgawker, it is certainly not the be-all-end-all.

      I very much enjoyed the pics on your site – – what a precious baby you have! Happy New Year to you, too, Marina!

  9. says

    Umm, this is my 3rd comment for the night on your posts, but I just had to say that this was one of my favorite blog posts ever. You are funny and real and I appreciate that. I always feel this need to be “let in” and be a part of things, even if I’m not really interested in that “thing”. I guess its just my nature. But this post was a good reminder of what is and is not important. Thanks.

    • says

      Aw! Thanks, Heather! This was an important entry for me to write…and one of the first ones where I opened up more. I think a lot of us struggle with that desire to be “let in”…so whenever I feel that creep up in me (as it is apt to do), I try to take a step back, gain perspective, and remember what is most important. And it’s usually not that thing I was trying so desperately to be a part of!

  10. says

    This post also makes me think of my three young boys and how I try everyday to teach them to be who they are and not to change to fit into someone else’s category to “fit in”. Thanks for the great reminder that it extends to all parts of life!

  11. says

    This post is so wonderful, as evident by your numerous supportive comments! :) Craftgawker is a tough site… I’ve been pretty successful with it, personally, but getting those “declined” responses still sting. Every time I submit, I remind myself that being accepted isn’t a given… Gotta brace up for the potential rejection! 😉

    Very insightful and thoughtful post, Lauren!
    mon makes things

    • says

      Monica, it took me a while to learn what it appears you have learned rather quickly…that craftgawker loves photos straight on and with very simple backgrounds and excellent lighting. I’ve gotten more successful at getting my projects and have started taking photos for a square layout, but still have miles of learning to go. The process of writing this post was so cathartic for me and was such a great way to connect with others…like you, my dear!

  12. says

    Congratulations on getting picked! I have submitted multiple photos and have had no luck. One photo was taken by my friend who is a professional photographer and it was edited to perfection in photoshop but it was still rejected.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      I’ve given up trying to get into the minds of the people at craftgawker who make these decisions. Sometimes, I’ll be sure that they’re going to reject a photo, and they take it. Other times, I think, “There’s no way they’re going to reject this one,” and sure enough, it gets the old, “Unfortunately, your post entitled blah blah blah was not accepted” spiel. And I try not to let it hold more weight than it’s worth. Remember, it’s probably one person sifting through hundreds of photos that makes these decisions.

      Don’t let “the man” get you down, Zoe! :-)

      • says

        Being told my photography skills don’t make the cut doesn’t bother me, but when something was rejected for “craft composition” I couldn’t help but think they were dissing my sewing skills!

        • thethinkingcloset says

          How weird! “Craft composition”? Surely that was a typo and they meant photo composition. Right? At least, I can hope that’s what they meant! Otherwise, majorly uncool on their part.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Glad it may have been an encouragement to you, Chrissy. We craftgawker rejects need to stick together. I’ve still received WAY more rejections from craftgawker than acceptances…and I’m starting to take them less hard. Still, I keep chocolate nearby to help lessen the blow when those rejection emails come. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

  13. says

    I found you today when I googled: CraftGawker won’t take my submissions! :)
    I’ve submitted 4 to them and 1 to Dwelling Gawker and only 1 made the cut. I thought they were some of my better photos…I’ll keep trying even though I’m developing a fear-of-my-inbox!
    Anyhoo, I’m sure you’ve had tons accepted by now :)
    thanks for giving me someone to commiserate with xo
    (ps…will you be at Haven next month!? I’d love to say hi !)

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Ha ha, I totally can relate to that “fear-of-my-inbox” syndrome. I’ve come to just expect seeing that “Unfortunately” sentence starter and knowing what’s to follow. I definitely still get rejected more than accepted, but the blows aren’t so heavy now. Especially when I remember I am not alone in feeling humbled by craftgawker!

      Anyway, let’s commiserate in person at Haven! (Yes, I’m going!) Will look out for you there, Robin. Until then, hang in there! You are a talented, creative, and significant human being…no matter what craftgawker says! (And don’t you forget it.)

  14. says

    Ok, this post is old, I know……..but I have a newbie blogger question. When you KNOW that nobody is reading your posts, how do you get past that dreadful, “I’m talking to myself and everybody knows it” feeling? Awkward! :)

  15. Gen says

    OMG thank you for writing this. I know it’s an old post but I want you to know it still resonates with me. I found this page 12 minutes ago, after being rejected by CG 14 minutes ago. I thought somehow I must be a complete loser when I still didn’t see how my picture was an ‘awkward angle’. It’s good to know that *this* club is made of awesome crafters and photographers so I don’t feel so bad anymore. I don’t want to look like I’m advertising, but I wrote this article after my second round of rejects from CG. Thought you might enjoy it :)


    • thethinkingcloset says

      You are so welcome, Gen! I wrote it to encourage bloggy buddies like you who were also struggling with rejection after rejection by craftgawker (or any of the gawkers for that matter). No, you’re not a complete loser at all, though I’m sure it feels that way. Since writing this post, I’ve gotten a lot better at capturing the sorts of photos that craftgawker accepts (you’ll find it has NOTHING to do with the content of the post, just the little 1.5″ x 1.5″ photo – – the angle, the composition, the background). But still, I get rejections. In fact, I’m coming off of three in a row rejected…but it doesn’t quite get me down like it used to. And when I weigh my priorities, spending an extra hour snapping and editing photos just so I can get that perfect craftgawker image just isn’t one of them. And I’m okay with that!

      Anyway, thanks for your article link! I read it, and really resonated with the last several paragraphs in particular. Ah yes…the struggle for natural light (especially when you’re a night owl…like me!).

      Also, I thought I’d share this article written by my friend Allison from Dream a Little Bigger. I thought it was really informative on how to get photos accepted to craftgawker…if that’s something you still want to try for (and it’s great for visual learners). http://www.dreamalittlebigger.com/post/get-photos-accepted-by-craftgawker.html

      Best of luck, Gen!


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