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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.

Artist Statement? What’s that and why do I need it?

Artist Statement? What’s that and why do I need it?

Most artists that I deal with do not like writing an artist statement and many don’t have one at all. Since most artistic people are more visual than language oriented, writing an artist statement becomes a difficult task. So why should you bother? People communicate with language and when they are interested in your art and want to know more, the artist statement can be the start to that conversation. Whether it is something you give to potential buyers, give to galleries or is required for entering shows, the artist statement is essential for communicating what you do in your art and why you do it.


A good artist statement reveals more about you the artist, your inspiration and motivations, how you work, the materials you use and what your art means to you. To communicate this information, you need to keep the statement short and succinct in language that anyone can understand. Avoid using vague language that could be used by anyone such as “I am inspired by nature”. What specifically inspires you about nature? Is it the vast desert landscapes and the colors of the sunset? Or are you inspired by the textures of lichen on a rock? Use your thesaurus to find adjectives that specifically communicate the idea you are expressing. Find words that match the type of art that you create. Is your work comical or funky?  Think about the language that would fit and express that side of your art.

Start listening to what others have to say about your art. What words do they use to describe your work? Write the words down. Think about why you do what you do. What makes you the happiest about your work? Is there a specific method that you like the best? Why? Is there something that you do that never fails to inspire? Write it all down quickly like taking notes. Don’t try to edit the words when you first start. Just write it all down.

Once you’ve started your list of words and phrases, look all these words up in the dictionary and thesaurus and find more words to add to your list. Spend time on this search and keep thinking about your art. Ask yourself what your art means to you. Keep your list handy so when an idea pops into your head, you can write it down. Many times your subconscious can work on these questions while you are busy doing something else and  great ideas will arrive at the most unexpected times.

So do you have an artist’s statement? If you do, are you happy with it? Did you write it ten years ago? Take the next two weeks to get a list of words that describe your art and why you do what you do. I’ll discuss writing the full statement in my next column. Don’t miss this opportunity to better communicate with the world what makes your art unique.

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