The Artist's Statement
by Janet Bloch
Today, I want to provide everyone with some information on how to write an artist's statement. This seems to be an area of great concern for many artists. I have included an excerpt from Chapter 7 of my workbook, Strategic Marketing Tools for Visual Artists, and three prompts to help you start writing about your work. Good luck and happy writing.
The purpose of your artists statement is to communicate, in a concise and direct way, what you investigate, observe, or want to express with your art. This is accomplished by informing the reader about specific motives, processes, and influences.
Many artists have a difficult time writing their statement, but its a very good exercise for figuring out exactly who you are as an artist and what you hope to convey through your work. If you exhibit your work mainly at art fairs or in artisan galleries, a statement that focuses on your process (how you make your art) may suffice.
However, if you intend to enter the fine art world and be taken seriously, you must develop your artist statement fully. The notion that the statement is merely an academic exercise that is full of "art speak" is outdated. As you embark on your art career, you'll be expected to discuss the ideas your art addresses with your audience, other artists, collectors, curators, and critics. Of course, you want to be able to articulate your vision in these discussions.
Writing a statement will help you do just that. Whatever your objections, please suspend them for now. The statement will not limit your options or stifle your creativity. Set aside your resistance, because Im going to help you write a useful and powerful statement that will tell the world who you are as an artist.
The first mistake many artists make is to launch into writing a statement before taking the time to journal about their work. Below is a list of exercises that I suggest you take some time to complete before starting your statement. My advice is to answer each question over the next few weeks. Not every question will resonate with you about your work, but answer all of them anyway. For example, if youre a painter with a fairly traditional technique, your statement need not mention your process, but journal about it first to make sure youre not overlooking an interesting detail.
If a question resonates with you, return to it several times. Allow yourself to delve deeper into the topic each time. If you find it difficult to discipline yourself, set a timer for ten minutes and write until the time is up. Over time, information and insights will emerge about your work. I suggest writing without formality at this stage. Don't get hung up on grammar and punctuation, as you can polish your writing later in the process. Following are several questions that will help you begin to formulate your statement.
1. What are the two most important themes (ideas, concepts) that your artwork addresses?
2. What are the two greatest influences (genres of art, artists, philosophies, etc.) on your current work? Explain the relationship of each to your work.
3. Describe, step by step, your entire process for creating an artwork.