28 Sep 2012

How To Write An Artist’s Statement

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For an artist, next to their artwork, nothing is more important than a powerful artist’s statement. An artist’s statement is a marketing/sales piece. It should capture the imagination of an audience, engage their interest and explain the artist’s work so that people want to show it or buy it!

So … what is an artist’s statement?
• An artist’s statement is three to five paragraphs,
• of three to five sentences each
• and it provides basic information like … why the artist create his or her art, what is signifies, how it is made, what it’s made out of and what it means to the artist.

The idea is to entice potential buyers to want to know more about you and eventually to buy a piece of art.

An artist statement is about facts. It is a basic introduction to your work; it’s not instructions on what to experience, what to think, how to feel, how to act, or where to stand, and if it is, you’d better do a rewrite.

It should be written avoiding art jargon. Everyone should be able to read it and understand what you do and why you love doing it.

So what is the difference between a bio and an artist’s statement?

A bio is basically highlights from the artist’s art resume. It should include the artists’ education, awards, showings, accolades, as well as where they were born, where they live now, and a description of their current work.

An artist’s statement should capture the imagination of a reader immediately and entice them to learn and see more. In short, it is an advertisement for the artist and his or her work.

Here’s an example that should show the difference: This is a description of a sweater in the Coldwater Creek (a woman’s clothing store) catalog…

A shadow dance of artisan-rippled seams and smooth-flowing stripes, in tee-soft fabric that doesn`t add an ounce.

Just like this statement, your artist’s statement must lure galleries, shows and buyers to want to know and see more of your work, and most importantly, to buy your work!

So how do you write an artist’s statement?

Start with some basic exercises.

Exercise #1Take five minutes and think about why you do what you do. How did you get into this work? How do you feel when work is going well? What are your favorite things about your work? Jot down short phrases that capture your thoughts. Don’t worry about making sense or connections.

Exercise #2 Take a few minutes and make a list of words and phrases that communicate your feelings about your work and your values. Include words you like, words that make you feel good, words that communicate your values or fascinations.

Exercise #3 Think about your favorite tools, materials, medium, and how you feel when a piece turns out really well. Think about pattern, in the way you select materials, the way you use color, light, texture, etc. What is your favorite color and why? Jot down all the thoughts that occur to you! Don’t try to make them into sentence, just get the words down.

Once you’ve completed the exercises, it’s time to write a rough draft of your artist’s statement. Use the words, thoughts and ideas you wrote down in the exercises as you create each paragraph.

First paragraph. Begin with a simple statement of why you do the work you do. Support that statement, telling the reader more about your goals and aspirations.

Second paragraph. Tell the reader how you make decisions in the course of your work. How and why do you select materials, techniques, themes?

Third paragraph. Tell the reader a little more about your current work. How it grew out of prior work or life experiences. What are you exploring, attempting, challenging by doing this work.

Once you have a rough draft, let it sit overnight. Then read it out loud the next day. As you listen to the statement, you’ll hear where the rough parts are and you can smooth it and make corrections.

Updating Your Artist’s Statement
You should update your artist’s statement every six months to a year. As your artwork changes, matures and grows, so your artist statement needs to reflect these changes.