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A clear and intelligent artist’s statement will make you stand out from the crowd and will show people that you are a thoughtful and deliberate artist. Writing your statement can be a difficult process, but it is also an enormously valuable exercise as it can help you to achieve a greater understanding of yourself as an artist. Here is a helpful guide to steer you in the right direction.
Thinking It Through
Be honest with yourself. Before you write a word, take some time to just think about you and your art. You need to understand what it is that you are trying to achieve, before you attempt to explain it to anyone else.
- Ask yourself what you're doing. What does your art express? What makes your art unique?
- Ask yourself why you're doing it. What motivates you to create art? What emotions or ideas are you trying to convey? What does your art mean to you?
- Ask yourself how you're doing it. What do you draw inspiration from? What tools and materials do you use?
Consider your influences. Think about the things that influence you, whether it's art, music, literature, history, politics or the environment. Think about how these influences have made an impression on you and how they manifest themselves in your work. Try to be as specific as possible.
Make a mind-map. Mind-mapping is a good way to free your thinking. It will also help you to trace the relationship between different ideas.
- Jot down a key idea that informs your work in the center of a blank page. Then spend 15 minutes writing down any words, phrases, feelings, techniques etc. related to that idea.
- Free writing is another technique that can help get the creative juices going. Spend 5-10 minutes writing whatever pops into your head when you think about your art. You'll be amazed at what you come up with.
Determine what you want people to understand. Think about what you want people to take away from your art. What message or emotion are you trying to convey?
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Method 1 Quiz
What question should you ask yourself when you're brainstorming for your artist's statement?
"Why is my art awesome?"
Not quite. While you should think about your art critically, try to focus your thoughts on what you're trying to achieve and why you're doing what you're doing. Questions like "Where do I get my inspiration?" and "What motivates me?" are great starting points! Pick another answer!
"What makes my art different?"
Correct! Asking yourself what makes your art unique will help you get to the center of why you're making art, and what your art adds to the world. Augment this question with others like "How do I make my art?" and "What does art mean to me?" Read on for another quiz question.
"How much money do I want to make with my art?"
Definitely not! Your artist's statement should be focused on what art means to you, how you make it, and what you're adding to the world. Focus on practical money-matters later. Guess again!
All of the above.
Nope. Some of these questions are not ideal questions to ask yourself when preparing your artist's statement, but one of them is on the right track! Try again…
Piecing It Together
Make a statement about why you do what you do. The first section of your artist's statement should begin with a discussion of why you make art. Try to make it as personal as possible. Talk about what your goals are and what you hope to achieve through your art.
Describe your decision-making techniques. In the second section of you statement, tell the reader about your decision-making process. How do you select a theme? How do you choose what materials to use? What techniques to utilize? Keep it simple and tell the truth.
Talk about your current work. In the third section, provide some insight into your current work. How does it relate to your previous work? What life experiences informed it? What are you exploring, attempting or challenging through this work?
Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Your artist statement is an introduction to your work, not an in-depth analysis of it. Your artist’s statement should be one to two paragraphs and no longer than a page.
- Your statement should answer the most commonly asked questions about your art, not overwhelm readers with irrelevant facts and minute details.
- Brevity and efficiency of language are key. A good statement will leave your readers wanting more.
Use simple language. An effective artist's statement reaches out and welcomes people to your art, no matter how little or how much they know about art to begin with; it never excludes. It should make your work more accessible, not obscure it with convoluted language filled with artsy jargon. 
- Write in simple, straightforward, everyday language.
- Make "I" statements rather than "you" statements. Talk about what your art does for you, not what it's supposed to do for the viewers.
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Method 2 Quiz
What's the second thing you should include in your artist's statement?
What work you're currently working on.
Not exactly. You should include your current work in your artist's statement, but this generally comes last. Click on another answer to find the right one…
Your decision-making process.
Correct! Your decision-making process should be the second thing you discuss in your artist's statement. Include information about how you select your themes and projects, how you choose materials, and how you decide what technique you'll use for each project. Read on for another quiz question.
A personal discussion about why you make art.
Not quite. You should absolutely include information about why you make art, but this is generally the first section of an artist statement. Try again…
Applying the Finishing Touches
Let it rest. Your artist's statement is a piece of very personal writing. Once you've finished writing, let it rest overnight before your reread it. Taking some time will help you take a step back and give you the detachment necessary to polish the writing without violating your sense of integrity and safety.
Seek feedback. Before you go public with your statement, get feedback. Show your art and statement to friends, friends' friends, and maybe even a stranger or two.
- Make sure your readers get it, that they understand what you want them to understand. When they don't, or you have to explain yourself, do a rewrite and eliminate the confusion.
- Keep in mind that you alone are the authority for what is true about your work, but feedback on clarity, tone and technical matters such as spelling and punctuation never hurts.
Revise as needed. Many times, a little rearranging is all that's necessary to make your statement a clean, clear read. If you need help, find someone who writes or edits and have them fix the problem.
Use your statement. Make the most of your artist statement and use it to promote your work to gallery owners, museum curators, photo editors, publications and the general public.
Save all your notes and drafts. Save all the notes and drafts that you've made. You'll want to revise and update your artist's statement from time to time to reflect changes in your work. Having your original notes and drafts at your disposal will help you to immerse yourself in your past thought processes and will give you a sense of creative continuity.
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Method 3 Quiz
When should you edit your artist's statement?
Not quite. Any piece of writing, especially a personal piece, is hard to edit immediately after you write it. Give your artist's statement some time, and then come back to it with fresh eyes! There’s a better option out there!
After letting it rest overnight.
Correct! You want to give your artist's statement some time to rest before you revisit it. Giving it a few hours means you still have the idea fresh in your mind, but you can now approach it with a more critical eye, and make any necessary edits! Read on for another quiz question.
After a week.
Not exactly. Waiting too long can mean you forget why you wrote something you did, or what you meant by a particular sentence or phrase. Try editing it sooner than one week, so that the idea of your artist's statement, and what you were trying to convey, is still fresh. There’s a better option out there!
Definitely not! Your artist's statement is a very important piece of writing — remember, you're going to show this to industry professionals like museum curators, photo editors, publications, and other people! Try again…
Sample Artist Statement
Sample Artist Statement
- Avoid comparing yourself to other artists. It can seem presumptuous and you may not come out of the comparison favorably. Let the critic's decide who you're like.
- Not all artists can write well. If you're in that category, think seriously about hiring a professional writer or editor, preferably one with an art background, to help you convey what you want your statement to convey in language that ordinary everyday people can understand.
If you need to write an artist statement, start with a personal description of why you decided to make your art, including your goals for your career as an artist. Then, talk a bit about your decision-making process behind your art, like your themes, materials, and techniques. Next, include some background about your current works of art, and talk about how they relate or differ from your previous works. Remember to limit your statement to 1-2 paragraphs, since it's supposed to be a brief introduction to your work. For advice on planning out your statement and exploring your personal story, read on!
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