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Writing the perfect Artist Statement every time.

Note: We have compiled a PDF guide on writing your artist statementwhich you can download for free via the link in the side bar or at the end of the article.

While it may seem daunting, the ability to articulate your vision through a compelling artist statement is indispensable

Your artist’s statement acts not only as an introduction to your work but also as a vital tool in bridging the gap between you, your audience, and the broader art community. Emerging artists, in particular, face the dual challenge of defining their unique artistic identity while engaging effectively with an audience that may be unfamiliar with their work.

If you are reading this, you may be in a position where you are required to provide an artist’s statement for an application or exhibition and are feeling a little out of depth, or you may be a seasoned artist simply wanting to refine their artist statement writing abilities. Either way, this article and the accompanying PDF guide will make writing artist’s statements a breeze—and potentially even something to look forward to.

Writing notes on artists statement guide on laptop
Pictured: Our PDF guide on writing the perfect artist's statement

The purpose of artist statements

Historically, artist statements are a relatively recent practice, rooted in the movement towards more conceptual artwork in the at the end of the 20th century. They provide a textual accompaniment to visual works, offering insights into the conceptual framework, creative process, and the personal significance of the artwork to the artist. In this article, we will dissect the components and significance of artist statements, drawing upon contemporary examples and industry perspectives to provide a thorough understanding for emerging artists.

Understanding the artist statement

So, what is an artist statement? An artist’s statement is a succinct, narrative introduction to your work. It should convey the themes, the processes, and the conceptual basis of your work. It ensures that your work is not misinterpreted and supports the visual cues present in the piece.

Artist's statements act as a direct communication channel to your audience, inviting them into a deeper engagement with your art.

Your artist statement offers a unique opportunity to tell the story behind your work. With the intimate familiarity of your own practice, it is easy to overlook the way that your art may be perceived as a first impression. While some may adopt the notion that good art should be able to communicate alone, this is simply not true. There are very few circumstances when one channel of communication translates a deeper understanding than many.

Movies engage audio and images, or closed captions, and audio descriptions for those impaired. These additional communication methods aren’t considered ‘cheating’, they are an important part of storytelling and without them, the piece would be considered inaccessible.

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When would you need to use an artist's statement?

  • Number 1

    Professional opportunities

    A well-crafted artist statement opens doors to galleries, exhibitions, residencies, and grants. It often acts as a first impression, providing curators and jurors with a clear understanding of your work and its relevance.

  • Number 2

    Marketing and sales

    For artists looking to sell their work, a compelling artist statement enhances marketability by connecting emotionally with potential buyers, giving them the backstory and deeper meaning of the artwork.

  • Number 3

    Academic and critical recognition

    For artists looking to sell their work, a compelling artist statement enhances marketability by connecting emotionally with potential buyers, giving them the backstory and deeper meaning of the artwork.

  • Number 4

    Development of practice

    Writing about your work helps you think about the theoretical framework of your practice and while writing, you may discover things that you weren’t aware of. You may also identify some gaps or new avenues of exploration.

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Key components of an effective artist's statement

  • Number 1

    Introduction to your art

    Start by succinctly introducing your art. Mention your medium, style, and the themes you explore.

  • Number 2

    Conceptual framework

    Discuss the ideas driving your work. What questions are you exploring, and why are they important to you?

  • Number 3

    Inspirations and influences

    Share your inspirations. These could be personal, historical, theoretical, or other artists' works.

  • Number 4

    Process and technique

    Describe your creative process and the techniques you use. How do these choices support your artistic vision?

  • Number 5

    Personal connection

    Reflect on your personal connection to your work. How do your background and experiences inform your art?

  • number 6

    Viewer engagement

    Specify what you hope viewers will take away from your work. How do you wish to engage with your audience?

Writing your artist's statement

The process of writing an artist statement can be overwhelming but is ultimately rewarding. It forces clarity and introspection, helping you to articulate the essence of your work and your identity as an artist. Here are some steps to guide you:

  • Begin with a Brainstorm: List down all the ideas, themes, and techniques that describe your work.
  • Draft an Outline: Organise your thoughts into the key components mentioned above.
  • Write Your First Draft: Let your thoughts flow without worrying about length or perfection.
  • Revise and Refine: Edit for clarity, conciseness, and coherence. Ensure that the statement reflects your voice and vision.

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Refining your artist's statement

Refining an artist statement is an ongoing process that should evolve as your artistic practice grows. Here are some iterative steps to improve your statement:

  • Feedback Gathering: Share your statement with peers, mentors, and professionals within the art world. Constructive feedback can provide new perspectives and insights that you might have overlooked.
  • Regular Updates: As your artistic focus shifts or you undertake new projects, update your statement to reflect these changes. Keeping your statement aligned with your current work ensures that it remains relevant and engaging.
  • Tailoring for Context: Different venues and opportunities might require slightly different emphases in your statement. For instance, a statement for a gallery exhibition might focus more on the specific series being displayed, while a grant application might emphasise conceptual innovation or social impact.
  • Simplification: Over time, review your statement for clarity and simplicity. A concise, direct, and jargon-free statement is often more effective than one that is overly complex and verbose.

Tips for writing your artist's statement

BE AUTHENTIC: Write honestly about your work. Authenticity resonates more than complexity.
KEEP IT CLEAR AND CONCISE: Avoid jargon. Your statement should be accessible to everyone, including those unfamiliar with art terminology.
BE SPECIFIC: Vague statements can dilute the impact of your work. Specific details can make your statement stand out.
REVISE REGULARLY: As your art evolves, so should your statement. Keep it updated to reflect your current works and insights.
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Conclusion

Your artist statement is more than just a formality; it is a reflection of your artistic journey and ethos. It is a tool that can open professional doors, deepen your understanding of your own work, and enhance your engagement with the audience. As you grow as an artist, your statement will evolve, becoming a documentation of your creative evolution.

Don’t forget to download your free PDF guide which contains everything covered in this article plus additional information. Keep it handy for when it’s time to write or review your artist’s statement.

Rosie Bird

Rosie is an artist and creative innovator from Brisbane Australia. With two fine arts degrees and years of experience in the contemporary art world, she has acquired a wealth of industry knowledge. She founded open-folio as a way of creating a vibrant online community of contemporary artists and helping them reach their fullest potential.

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