Artist Statement, how to write a powerful statement that will achieve its goal.
To help the viewer want to know more about the work.
Now, don’t take that lightly. You write your statement so that your reader is enticed, urged, and given the desire to see your work, learn more about your work, learn more about you!
What is it used for? Just to list a few:
Point the viewer to your concerns that are important within the work
Set’s the tone for viewing the work
Helps publicists, curators, critics who write about your work.
That last item is very important too. By writing a great artist statement, you help others in the writing community with ideas that make their jobs easier. Nothing wrong with a critic publishing most of your artist statement for that big kick of free publicity!
Your artist statement usually is only one page long, but sometimes two.
Here are some ideas on how to start (some of the nuts and bolts):
Think of someone specific in your life and tell them about your art. You want to convey your thought process, and concerns that are of interest to you the most. Speak with feeling and without being pompous. Stay away from the “we” word.
Describe the actual process that you use. This answers the “how” question.
You can also answer the “when” and “what” questions by talking about what you use, and when you become inspired or when your best painting time is.
What inspires you to paint. This answers the “why” question. You can describe what motivates you, what rewards you get when producing the work. Why do you invest so much time, money, energy and emotion into the art that you create.
This process is going to be good for you too! Why? It gets you into the mindset of describing why, and what you do in your art. Your artist statement will be very important when it comes to a show date, or an art fair setting where lots of folks will be visiting your tent and asking about your art. You’ll be fully prepared! Your artist statement will already be written and you’ll remember the keys points.
Why do I paint Flowers?
“I am constantly struck by the utter beauty within the flower. Flowers are so short lived, do you ever stop and take a very close look? Most folks don’t, but when they do, they find an amazing world. The close-ups of my blossoms bring that world to them.”
Some more nuts and bolts on the how-to part of this process.
Try this. Start our in small steps. Really small steps. Remember, “how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”
The Nuts and bolts:
Take 5 to 7 words that describe your work.
One of these should include the medium. You can describe in terms of style, color, mood, purpose, etc.
Set on these overnight.
On your next opportunity create 3 to 5 sentences around each of these key words.
If personal events and memories have shaped your work, and you have a tough enough hide to share them, then do.
If you have strong feelings or emotions, loneliness, fear, satisfaction, joy, wonder, admit to these and it may induce your viewer to relate to you and your work more.
Its always a work in progress, as your work develops and changes, so must your statement.
See my examples over a period of years included below.
Some more steps to get your writing juices going:
It should provide clear information on your background, technique, style, ideas behind the work, and goals as an artist.
If helps you to focus your own vision, your voice.
Know your audience. Who are you writing for, potential buyers, academic committees, local businesses, civic organizations, art centers? Adjust your statement accordingly. Remember your audience and their interests.
After getting your words and sentences together, form the outline.
It can take the form of a speech, interview, long article, or short one page summary.
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The artist statement, what you should and shouldn't have included.
Do use similes and metaphors:
Simile = a comparison using like or as. “The blossom was bright as the noon day sun.”
Metaphors = a comparison that implies equality between two things compared. “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”
Develop your own definition of art. This definition, when clearly presented, lets your viewer know exactly where you stand, and can invoke an energetic reaction! Be careful here. If you’re a realist, never bash the abstract art of the world. If you’re an abstractionist, have patience with your realist brothers. Each genre has it’s strengths, dwell in this arena alone, and let your viewer be the judge of your work.
Finally, a few parting ideas for creating your artist statement:
Get personal, allow your personality to show through.
Quote other artists.
Connect your ideas, don’t ramble.
Use non-artsy language for the non-artist in your audience.
Check spelling, grammar, proof read, proof read, proof read, then have a friend proof read!
Use the informal “I”, “me” for website/blog/ general statement.
Use the formal “Name”, “he/she” for exhibitions, grant applications, gallery packages.
Should never be funny, pretentious, precocious.
Don’t use, “really, very, however”.
Don’t use weak phrases like “I am attempting”, “I hope”, “I am trying”.
Do use these stronger words that show your confidence in your work!
Organized rather than “put together”
Achieve rather than “attempt”
Co-ordinate, Establish, Generate, Instruct, Lecture, execute, introduce, manage, develop, formulate, implement, solve, plan, launch, utilize, research, direct.