As an artist, your artist statement is one of the most powerful tools you have to communicate your art and the ideas behind it. We sometimes hear from artists that they "want their work to speak for itself" and therefore don't make one at all! It's entirely possible to make a statement that allows the viewer to draw their own conclusions. Think of it like a bridge between the viewer and your work. Yes, you know a lot about your work and practice, but they may be seeing it for the first time. This is your introduction to your work. An artist statement is often the essential key to unlocking your next goals and steps in your art career. You simply must have one if you want to move forward. In this article, we'll explore how to craft a strong artist statement that will help you in your professional art
Your first sentence is your thesis statement of your work
Your artist statement is your opportunity to describe your work, your goals and your vision as an artist. As such, it should be written in a way that captures the attention of your audience. A strong and concise thesis statement is the perfect way to begin your statement. It should be clear and concise so that readers understand what they are about to read, while still giving them a glimpse into what makes your work unique. Your first sentence should describe the core theme or message of your art, as well as explain why you believe in it. Use descriptive words to draw readers in and make them want to learn more about your work.
Describe your why
When writing your artist statement, you want to explain why you make art and what drives
you to create. For emerging, mid-career, and contemporary artists, this is an essential part of the artist statement. You should try to explain what it is that motivates you to make art and why you do it. Answer what connects you to your own art, and why you make it. Is it to share your thoughts and feelings, explore new ideas, or make a personal connection with the viewer? Do you find beauty in everyday life? Do you wish to make a political statement or challenge a preconceived notion? Maybe it’s simply a form of self-expression? Describe why you make art in a way that resonates with you and your work. This will help people understand what makes you unique as an artist and connect to your art on a deeper level.
Optional, but encouraged - share your message
Your artist statement can serve as an effective way to share the message behind your work and should be as clear as possible. Are you sharing work as advocacy? Maybe you are sharing a story or people? Whatever it is, use your artist statement to make sure it's crystal clear to the viewer so they understand the meaning behind your art, no matter if you're just starting out, midcareer, or established. A good rule of thumb is to include words that clearly
define what it is about your art that makes it unique and meaningful for viewers. Share your passion about your work. After all, this is what will grab their attention and make them want to know more about your art and yourself! When midcareer artists write their statements, it is important that they consider how their previous works of art have been received by others, both personally and professionally. This can help provide focus and clarity in order to create a strong, concise, and powerful statement. A strong artist statement will not only help others understand more about an artist's philosophy and purpose but also help explain why this particular artwork is meaningful for the midcareer stage of their career.
Use "I" or "the work" Statements
When writing your artist statement, it’s important to use ‘I’ statements. This means you should be describing your artwork and its meaning in your own words, not relying on quotes from other sources or trying to sound like someone else. Using ‘I’ statements allows
you to express yourself and your message in a more personal, sincere way that speaks to the audience. For example, rather than saying “My work is about...” or “My art is inspired by...”, say “I create work that reflects...” or “This work is inspired by...”. This will make your statement more personal and engaging.
When using I statements, it’s also important to keep the language simple. Stick with clear and direct language that conveys your message in an honest, concise way.
Using "I" or "this work" statements in your artist statement will allow you to connect to your audience on a more personal level and show that you are passionate about your work and its meaning. Be sure to be truthful and accurate when writing your statement, as this will help people understand your artwork better and engage with it on a deeper level.
Know Your Audience
Know Your Audience! We always recommend that artists have a base artist statement, but make slight language adjustments to their audience. Think of it like a cover letter to a job. You and your art, and even the basic content of your statement isn't changing, but you slightly tweak the language to your designated place. A coffee shop is different than an interior design firm is different that a museum. Some may require more conversational language, while others may require more corporate language, while others still may desire more academic language.
Furthermore, try to keep the length of your statement in mind and make sure you don't go off on too many tangents. Keeping your artist statement succinct and to the point is key.
Stand strong in your work - Be Confident
Confidence is key in any artist statement and this applies to artists of any level: emerging,
mid-career or established. You need to be confident in the work that you create and be able to communicate this to your audience. Showing confidence in your art will give readers the impression that you are a passionate and serious artist.
We often see statements that read "I aim to" or "I am trying to..." we encourage artists to own what they are doing. Skip those statements and hop right into what you're doing. "I am ..." because you are doing the work, and you're doing a good job. Own that.
You can further demonstrate confidence by highlighting the strengths of your art. If you have an emerging practice, make sure to mention your progress and development as an artist, such as the materials you work with or any awards or recognition you have received. Likewise, for mid-career or established artists, discuss your journey and what has been achieved in your career, such as exhibiting in international galleries or having artwork collected by contemporary museums.
Highlighting your experience, successes and achievements are important in conveying
confidence in your art. This will not only give readers an insight into who you are as an artist, but also showcase the value of your artwork. This will ensure readers that your artwork is worth looking at and investing in.
Edit, Edit, Edit
Edit it yourself, have a friend or colleague edit it, and have a fellow artist edit it! Editing your artist statement is an important step in getting your message across and making sure it is clear and concise. We tell artists that yes, YOU know your work inside and out, but many people will be reading this work and seeing your work for the first time. Does your statement clearly convey your message? A strong artist statement needs to be free of any errors so that the reader can focus on the message.
When editing, focus on clarity and brevity. Make sure that you are saying what you want to say without using too many words. This means that you need to get rid of any unnecessary words or phrases and make sure that you are only using the most important words and phrases. Also, read your statement out loud to ensure that it flows well.
You should also pay attention to the structure of your artist statement. Make sure that each sentence has a purpose and that the points build off each other. If there are any sentences or phrases that don’t really add anything to the overall message, get rid of them.
Finally, make sure to review your statement for any grammar or spelling mistakes. It’s best to have someone else look over your statement before submitting it as they may catch errors that you missed. By carefully editing your artist statement, you can make sure that it conveys your message in the best way possible.
Put in the time and effort necessary to craft a statement that accurately describes who you are and what your work is about. Doing so will make sure that anyone reading your statement gets a great first impression and will be interested in learning more about you and your work.