Writing A Great Artist's Statement

Perhaps the most challenging of the “big three” promotional items an artist needs to create is the artist’s statement. After all, as visual artists, we are most comfortable speaking in images, not in words. And yet, our artwork cannot always speak for itself, at least not in the verbal language so many are accustomed to, which is why we have to find a way to express in writing whatever it is we’re trying to express through our creations.

Your artist’s statement does not need to be long. Many are as short as a single paragraph involving one or two sentences. In fact, you probably wouldn’t want to go longer than about three paragraphs covering different facets of your art or art-making process. A statement should be mostly about the art, but when you do write about yourself, write in the first person (using “I” statements as if you’re talking to a friend about yourself). Also, your statement should be written in plain language, not jargon-y art-speak, although you should try to incorporate intriguing, provocative, or poetic language to make it interesting. Keep in mind that the vast majority of people who will read this are not artists, so consider your audience when you’re writing.

Here are a couple of prompts that will help you get started on writing your artist’s statement:

  • What inspires you?
  • Is there some technical aspect of art (color, texture, etc.) that particularly interests you?
  • Why have you chosen to paint in the subject or style or medium that you’ve chosen?
  • How and when do you start a new work of art?
  • How do you know when it’s finished?
  • What response do you hope people have to your work?
  • Is there something about you as a person that you’re trying to communicate through your artwork, such as a life motto?
  • Is there some element of your background or personal history that has influenced you and the artwork you’re currently creating?

Writing your artist’s statement will take some time, and you’ll undoubtedly go through many drafts before landing on one you’re happy with. It’s not a bad idea to enlist the help of a few friends who know you and your work well to get some feedback as you’re developing it. And even at that, you’ll probably go back and tweak it over the years. Like your artwork, your artist’s statement will evolve over time.

What’s the best artist’s statement you’ve seen? Please share, and let’s connect!

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