For most artists, facing a blank page is more intimidating than starting a new painting!  We can ’deal’ with artist’s block, but writer’s block too! But the reality is – all successful or aspiring artists need an ‘artist’s statement.’

What is an ARTIST’S STATEMENT?

Simply put, an artist’s statement is a short piece written for your viewers to answer questions they may have about you and your art. The artist’s statement is a vital marketing tool used to promote you and your work to potential buyers, critics, fellow artists, friends and exhibition curators.  It should be informative and add to the understanding of the artist in an easy, concise manner.  Much of it is personal choice, but here are some art industry suggestions.

The process:

  • Write a rough draft
  • Start with the pertinent and fill in details
  • Where you were born (if necessary) career, influences, education and finish with current working life (this is written more like a list than a bio or resume)
  • Keep it in chronological order
  • Include objectives and goals together (near the beginning)
  • Include interests and influences together
  • Experiences and activities should be together
  • Remember your audience and their interests
  • Connect your ideas
  • Check your spelling and grammar
  • Proof read it at least two times
  • Have a friend read it
  • Final draft
  • Save!

And yes, as your art changes – so will your artist’s statement

Some DO’s:

  • Describe your creative process
  • Who inspires you?
  • Why do you create and what does it mean to you?
  • Describe your philosophy and passion
  • What inspires you?
  • Is there a message?
  • Answer questions about your art
  • Put your art into words ( this can be difficult!)
  • What techniques, style and mediums are used?
  • What are your future goals?
  • Mention significant awards, exhibitions and important collections
  • Use language for non-artists! Don’t get too flowery or technical
  • Keep it 3 paragraphs or less (100 words or up to one page)
  • Some of the best statements can be only 3 to 5 sentences!
  • Read other successful artists’ statements for inspiration
  • Use informal first person, “I” or “Me” for website or blogging use
  • Use formal third person, “Name” or “He/She” for exhibition, grant and gallery use
  • Consider your audience – you might have 2 or 3 versions that you use
  • Use PMI: This means PLUS, MINUS, INTERESTING. This gets you thinking metacognitively which means ‘thinking about thinking’…Next time you finish a painting, write down one positive thought about the piece, one negative thought and one interesting though you had while creating the piece.  File this information for your next artist’s statement draft!

Some DON’T’s:

  • An artist’s statement is NOT a resume
  • It is NOT a biography
  • Don’t catalogue works
  • Don’t be funny
  • Don’t be pretentious
  • Don’t jump around from idea to idea
  • Don’t be afraid to ask what the event, gallery or exhibition is looking for in a statement

In today’s world, artists are expected to do more than just create.  We stretch and prepare canvases, frame paintings, ship them, sell and market our work and ourselves while trying to stay current within the art market. And…most of us don’t have the luxury of a personal assistant or secretary. If you really get stumped you can hire someone to help you write for you.  Try using a secretarial service, a college student, or an unemployed writer or journalist.  Remember, a good artist’s statement can often mean the difference between getting accepted or rejected for a show or gallery.

Happy Writing – Lori 🙂

For some more art business advice: The Right Art Gallery – How I Found Mine or 3 Tips for Artists to Promote Themselves or Their Galleries