Artist Statement – Top Ten Ways to Write One

Artist Statement – Top Ten Ways to Write One

In the last column, I discussed ways to start working on your artist’s statement and why you might need one. Did you get started? Do you have a list of phrases and words to use that describe your work? If so, you’re ready to start putting the statement together. Let’s get started.

  1. Keep it Simple – Make sure that everyone can understand what you’re saying. Use simple language, keep it short and concise. Forget all that artist speak and say it in your own words.
  2. Open with Flare – Come up with an original opening sentence. Most statements start with “My work is…” or “I’m inspired by…” Avoid those and come up with something fresh and from your own perspective.
  3. Speak as  Yourself – Write in the first person. What would you say to a customer or a gallery owner about your work? You wouldn’t say “Sue Smith makes felted scarves”. Make “I” statements.
  4. Include the Basics – Make sure to include how you make your work, what media and tools you use, what the work means to you, what inspires you and how that inspiration appears in your work.
  5. Keep it Short – This bears repeating. Your statement should be no longer than three paragraphs. More words doesn’t make it better. Once you’ve written a first draft, go back and cut out any unnecessary words.
  6. Let it Stew – After the first editing, leave it alone for at least 2-3 days. A week would be better. You will come back to it with a fresh eye. Edit the statement again after you’ve let it rest. Keep pruning!
  7. Share it – Let a close friend review your statement. A second opinion is always helpful. Tell them that they won’t hurt your feelings and that you want an honest opinion and suggestions for improvement.
  8. Rewrite It – Now that you have further suggestions, use those to rewrite and revamp your statement. Make sure the words match your work. If your work is playful, write the statement in the same vein.
  9. Save All the Work – Keep all your notes and all the versions of your statement. You will need to occasionally rewrite your statement and you can use these notes for rewrites.
  10. Put It Out into the World – You’re now ready to tell the world about your art. Print out copies to be ready to give to interested galleries, customers and to include in applications. Your artist statement will be your personal ambassador and will open new opportunities for you, so don’t be bashful.

If you write a statement, I’d love to see it. Ann started a post on the forum about artist statements, so feel free to add yours.

8 thoughts on “Artist Statement – Top Ten Ways to Write One

  1. Following your advice, anyone could produce an excellent artist statement.

    And it could make the difference between getting noticed – or not!

  2. I like the idea of the statement being in first person. When is it right to use a third person version if at all. Perhaps to go with a display of your work when you won’t be there?

    1. I would stick with first person most of the time. It sounds more personal. Many times a press release needs to be in third person.

  3. I really find whole thing of writing about yourself very difficult, those are good tips though, and I am working on my statement, might need more than “Felting is my bliss”

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