If you are an artist serious about pursuing a career supported by the art you create and you haven’t written your artist statement, it is time, my artistic friend, to write one. An artist statement is a a crucial marketing tool and concise verbal representation of your own art- it’s important to understand the purpose of an artist statement and the best way to construct one.
“An artist statement is a necessary component of any professional artists’ portfolio or promotional packet.” – Alyson Stanfield
Keep It Simple, Silly:
Write your statement in first-person and with a language people can understand. Your art might be abstract, but your statement shouldn’t be. An artist statement should never sound pretentious or complicated. Painter Pamela Michelle Johnson has a fantastic body of work and 3-paragraph artist statement in which she says:
“The work questions a culture that equates fulfillment, pleasure and happiness with what we consume.”
This sentence sums up her artistic intentions quickly, and you don’t even need to draw another breathe to say it aloud.
Refrain from Comparing or Contrasting:
Avoid making comparative statements between your work and another artist’s – it’s tacky and presumptuous, and not everyone is going to agree with you. In fact, you might turn someone off to your work. The focus should be on your art. If you find yourself wandering away from your art and discussing irrelevant things, turn back, my friend! The focus is your art.
Show, Don’t Tell:
“Your artist statement is about facts, a basic introduction to your art; it’s not instructions on what to experience, what to think, how to feel, how to act, or where to stand…” - Alan Bamberger
Describe what your art strives to say, why you focus on a certain subject or medium, but never command a person how they should feel or experience your work. Johnson’s language is unthreatening and she never points a finger to anyone but herself and her own work:
“Through my work, I strive to invoke reflection on a culture focused on mass-consumption and mass-production, where the negative aspects of overindulgence are often forgotten or ignored.”
Take Breaks, Take Your Time:
Just as you take breaks from creating art, so should you when you’re creating your artist statement. You need moments to reflect and step away. Take your time, take a few breaths and take a few drafts to edit and perfect everything.
Get A Second Opinion:
Have a few family members, friends and/or professors to read your artist statement and give you input. They will tell you what they think needs to be explained, simplified or rewritten. And it never hurts to have a few extra pairs of eyes looking over your writing.
Here are some links I found friendly and informative for writing an artist statement:
What other sites do you find useful resources?
Happy writing & art’ing, friends!