What is an Artist Statement and How Do I Write One?

An artist statement is a few sentences to a couple paragraphs of an introduction to your art. Your artist statement is your opportunity to express your choices of mediums, colors, subject matter, what you felt when you were creating your art, and why you create art at all. It is one of the best ways to clarify your own ideas about your work and express your art in your own words. It is not an introduction on how people should view your art, how they should feel when they see your art, or what they should experience in the presence of your art. Your artist statement provides an opportunity for others to learn more about you and your art whether it is the first time or are a long time fan. Think of your artist statement as one of the many tools to help you communicate your reasons for creating and developing your brand and uniqueness as an artist.

An effective artist statement offers people an insider perspective to art your, no matter how much or how little they know about your art or art in general. An artist statement is NOT created to belittle or exclude anyone from appreciating art. What it DOES do, is it introduces and includes a broader audience of people to the underpinnings of your art and what you want people to be aware of when you were creating your piece(s). Your statement is not where you discuss your philosophical meaning behind your art, but it is to describe the reasons why you make your art, what inspires or drives you make your art, why should they care, what does your art signify or represent, what are you wanting to communicate to others, what makes your art special and unique, and briefly, what does your art mean to you. The more specific you can be in your statement, the more your reader will understand your message.

The people who appreciate your art will be intrigued and will ask questions about your art, so your artist statement starts the conversation even if you are not present or available to answer them. For people to buy your art, he or she needs to understand the point of your work and the more someone understands your process, the more likely someone is willing to buy your work. The goal with your statement is to entice your audience to want to ask questions. Those who are serious about learning more about your art and your choices will ask you. This will be your time to speak to your admirers about the technical, philosophical, personal, emotional, socially relevant, historical, environmentally responsible, political, autobiographical, or anecdotal points of your art. This is your time to let your audience understand your art in the context you created it.

How Do I Write An Artist Statement?

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When you are writing your artist statement, write it in first person and avoid using the word “you” in your statement. Your artist statement is about not your audience, it is about you! Instructing people on how to feel, respond, or relate to your work will only disconnect people from your message. Let the viewer create his or her own thoughts and feelings to your art. An example of this would be “you will be feel anger when you see my art”, instead state “I had a lot of anger when I created this piece/collection”. 

Write your statement in a language everyone can understand so you can get as many people as possible to appreciate you and your art. The point of the artist statement is for people to learn more about you, so writing your statement in a language that confuses people will only turn them away from hearing your message and disconnect from your art. It is also important to note, your statement begins the narrative of your art, so you should be okay with readers agreeing or disagreeing with you.

After writing your statement, ask family and friends to read it over to ensure the message you want to convey comes across and is not confusing. If you find people confused or not truly understanding your message, re-write it until it relays the message you want your audience to understand and know.

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Your Artist’s Statement

is NOT:

1. Pomposity, writing a statement about your role in the world.

 2. Grandiose and empty expressions and clichés about your work and views.

3. Technical and full of jargon – (remember to write in language everyone can          understand)

4. Long dissertations or explanations.

5. Discourses on the materials and techniques you have employed.

 6. Poems or nondescript writing

7. Anecdotes about some important event in your life – (unless  something is integral to the understanding of your art, keep it short and concise and no more than 2-3 sentences)

8. Nothing about your childhood or family unless it is very relevant to your work.

9. Not a brag fest or a press release – (no name dropping or comparative and evaluative comments about your art made by third parties - these belong in your bio, resume, or curriculum vitae)

10. Comparing yourself to other artists – (let your viewers make the comparisons themselves)

Types of Artist’s Statements

1. Full-Page Statement: This statement you will use most often; it speaks generally about your work, the methods you may have used, the history of your work, etc. It may also include specific examples of your current work or project. (This is used more for proposals, graduate school, giving a lecture, applying for a teaching position, etc.)

2. Short Statement: A shorter statement that includes the above in an abbreviated way, or is specific to the project at hand.

3. Short Project Statement: A very short statement about the specific project you are presenting.

4. Bio: Often a short description of your career as an artist and your major accomplishments.

Need helping writing an artist statement? Email me at info@dustydawnconsulting for assistance. I am here to help.