5 Creatives Who Were Initially Rejected

5 Creatives Who Were Initially Rejected
3 minutes read. May 23rd, 2019.

Thomas Edison

Back in 1879, when people first got wind of Thomas Edison’s latest invention, the general reaction was lukewarm at best. In fact, it was condemned by one Scientist from the Stevens Institute of Technology as ‘a conspicuous failure’ and ridiculed by others as the stuff of fairy tales, “unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men.” The invention in question? The lightbulb. Edison went on to file over a thousand patents for his various inventions and is known as one of the greatest inventors who ever lived.

Walt Disney

Several of Walt Disney’s initial business ventures ended up failing through bankruptcy. In 1923, after moving to Hollywood from Kansas City, Walt and his brother Roy formed Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, which has since become arguably the largest media empire in the world. Not bad for a man who was fired from a newspaper at the age of 22 for not being creative enough…

Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh began painting in his late twenties and went on to produce over 900 works. Tragically, his art was largely dismissed as amateurish and he only managed to sell a single painting in his whole life (for what would be around £1600 in today’s money). Posthumously, the Dutchman became revered as one of the greatest artists of all time, with his most expensive painting, Portrait of Dr. Gachet, fetching an incredible $82.5 million at auction in 1990.

J.K. Rowling

Nowadays, you might struggle to come across someone who is completely unaware of the magical world of Harry Potter. Yet J.K. Rowling’s original 1996 manuscript detailing the story of the boy wizard was rejected a staggering 12 times by various publishers. The book series, which has spawned a movie franchise, a theme park, video games and musicals to name but a few, is now worth an approximate £19 billion.

Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk

Three creatives for the price of one: way back in 2008, in their attempt to convince investors to part with $150,000 in return for a 10% stake, the founders of Airbnb were knocked back by five separate firms (a further two failed to respond at all). CEO Brian Chesky recently published the rejection emails, one of which read “…The potential market opportunity did not seem large enough for our required model.” Airbnb is now worth an estimated $30 billion and has more listings worldwide than the biggest five hotel brands combined.

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5 Creatives Who Were Initially Rejected

Paul Hough

Creative Director

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