Developing Artist Statements
A good Artist Statement supplements the visual information in a portfolio or an exhibition so that the reader/viewer can better understand it. As an educational tool, it should describe:
- what is being seen
- who made it
- how it was produced
Too often, artist statements are written from a defensive point of view, as if the artist is envisioning a hostile reader.
Compose your statement with a sympathetic friend in mind, one who is genuinely interested in your work and wants to know the answers to questions that
may come up when viewing it. To get started with the writing of a statement, begin by describing one or two recent works. What do you want the reader
Some doís and doníts
- DO write a strong , compelling statement- free of art speak.
- DO identify the medium and specific procceses or techniques used.
- DO give an informative description of how the work was prdouced.
- DO develop a strong first sentence. Explain clearly and precisely why you make art, what it means to you and what materials you use. Or give use a story about something that moved you into making a specific body of work. Draw the reader into your world.
- DO keep it short. No more than one typed page, double-spaced- even less is better. It is an introduction and a supplement to the visual information- not your life story.
- DO focus on topics that may not be apparent from viewing your slides, such as themes and issues that influence your work. The techniques, materials used, or scale of the work can also be important information to include.
- DO NOT imitate the writing of art magazines, avoid overly flowery or pretentious language. If your statement is difficult to read, it will not be read.
- DO NOT try to impress the reader with your extensive knowledge of art criticism or vocabulary.
- DO NOT announce what you are attempting to do, us clearly express what you have accomplished.
Your statement should stand on its own, so that the reader can imagine what your work looks like- even if they havenít seen it.
Many artists include a small photo of themselves at work, to give the reader a human being to put behind the words/works, which is clever by not necessary by any means. The bottom line of the artist statement is to make the reader want to see your work after reading the statement.
DONíT PANIC!!! If writing is tortureÖ GET SOME HELP.
- Invite a friend to your studio/workspace and discuss your work. If you tape record the conversation, you will be able to pay attention to what is said rather than whether or not youíve written it all down. Make a note of questions that come up during these sessions, a there a pattern? If there is, it is definitely information needed in your statement.
- Have several friends who know your work (especially those who are not artists) read your statement and respond. They may have good points to add or can catch phrases tha donít make sense. Your non-artist friends will also be best at finding art speak, which you may want to rewrite.
Some Helpful Links:
Artist Statement materials adapted from Full-Time Artist Program from the New York Foundations for the Arts