6 Tips for Writing an Artist Statement
There! I said it all in the title, “I Am An Artist.”
See, I painted “The Devil’s in the Detail Playing Tenor Sax,” Acrylic, 40×30. Therefore, I am an Artist.
That’s my Artist Statement. I wish this short statement would suffice. Unfortunately, writing more than a short statement is a more daunting and arduous task.
So much of who-we-are is wrapped up in what-we-do. The “Artist-label” denotes what I am, but does not indicate what I do, how I do it, and why I do it. Hence the “Artist’s Statement.” According to a Wikipedia article, “writing artists’ statements is a comparatively recent phenomenon beginning in the 1990s.” The same article states that an artist statement serves as a “a vital link of communication between you [the artist], and the rest of the world.” Well, it should.
The question becomes, “why is it so daunting and arduous to write a dynamic artist’s statement?” Like other artists, I would rather be in the studio creating more art. Typically, artists are not writers or even conversationalists. As an artist, I communicate through non-objective compositions on canvas. Furthermore, I am a loner, spending most of my time in the studio without communicating to others. Through my Artist Statement, I need to answer the following questions
- What do I do?
- How do I do it?
- Why do I do it?
- What do I want viewers to understand about my work?
Did I answer these questions in the latest version of my artist statement?
I paint emotion. In my process, I take an idea from life experiences and respond to that idea as I build each painting layer by layer. I am surmounting the negativities of those experiences and responding to each previous layer with a new one. Marc Chagall stated it best, “Art seems to me to be a state of soul more than anything else.” [This paragraph answers the “what.”]
I do not wait for inspiration, I paint. I know the act of painting, itself, will motivate me to be creative. I prefer vibrant, saturated colors that I blend on the canvas creating a multitude of effects. I paint with acrylics, house paint, spray paint, oil paint, ink, pastels, collage, transfers, sand, cement, and anything that will adhere to the canvas. When I engage with my surface, I brush on the paint, scrape it off, knife it on, sand it off, and so much more. [This paragraph answers the “how.”]
Finally, I choose a title that compliments the theme of the painting and that is ambiguous. I want viewers to have their own experience with the painting. [These final sentences answer the “why” and the “take-away for viewers.”]
I encourage you to reread my statement without reading the words in the brackets.
6 Tips for writing your own artist’s statement:
- Approach the task of writing with a positive attitude, otherwise you will be defeated before you start
- Avoid ArtSpeak, get to the point – avoid jargon, use a conversational style in the first person
- Your statement is not static – keep your audience in mind
- Take frequent breaks
- Have someone, other than a family member, read and edit
- Revise, Revise, Revise
I don’t care who you are, my short Artist Statement is: “I Am an Artist!”