Telling your Story: The What and Why of Artist Statements

Telling your Story: The What and Why of Artist Statements

Written by Corianne Wells | info@odessadenver.com  

9.6.2016

Joe had "Write Artist Statement" on his to-do list for months and was doing a great job of putting it off until an awesome residency opportunity came along. With only a few short days to explain the entirety of his artistic pursuits in less than a page, he rushed to finish it and submitted a rad portfolio with a less than stellar artist statement. Joe didn't get the residency....

Don't be like Joe. 

Whether you're applying for grant money, an artist residency, or space in an upcoming show, you will almost always need to include your artist statement. Writing an artist statement is often easier said than done. Luckily we're here to help you get started, so you can be fully prepared for any occasion.

Let's get to work!

Brainstorm:

Get started by writing down everything you can think of relating to the meaning and content of your work. It doesn’t all need to make sense yet, just be yourself and let the ideas flow. This stage could take a few hours to a week, so keep a running page in your sketchbook or journal and return to it often.

TIP: Don’t over think it. Be honest and clear about what's happening in your practice TODAY!

Outline:

Take all your ideas and put them in an order or format that makes sense to you. Don’t worry about fitting everything from brainstorming in the outline, just focus on answering what you are working on and why.

Draft:

Now take that outlined list of thoughts, turn those thoughts into sentences, and then turn those sentences into paragraphs! Try reading your draft out loud to yourself or to a friend. Ask for feedback.

Tip: When drafting your artist statement, ask yourself these two questions:

1: 'Does my artist statement motivate the reader to want to experience the work for themselves?'

2: 'Does my artist statement support the 'what' and the 'why of the work I have made? or does it overexaggerate / deceive the reader?'

Edit:

Cut the crap and fluff. You want your artist statement to sound like you. As much as we art-folk love 'linguistic-acrobatics', it's always best to stay direct and authentic to yourself and your work. In doing so, your artist statement will have a better chance at attracting the right kinds of investors and collectors to your work! PSSSSST, Don't forget to double check spelling and grammar. 

TIP: An artist statement should be 100-300 words

Read It Again:

You're almost there! Now that you've settled on a final draft, take some time away and re-read your artist statement in a couple days. If it still sounds wonderful to you, have a friend, colleague, or professor give it a look. There's nothing like a fresh pair of eyes.

Now, go share your unique story with the world!

STAND OUT:

              A short list of phrases that plague artists statements and should be avoided,  presented by "ART/WORK"

              “My work is intuitive”

              “My work is about the macro and micro”

              “My work is about the organic and synthetic”

              “My work is a personal journey”