What's Your Story?
Getting your unique message out into the world is more important than ever with so many places calling on you to share your intentions, your history, and your work. Your artist statement explains to the viewer what makes your work yours, what sets your work apart, and what makes you different from everyone else—even from artists whose work is similar.
You need a statement on your website, for social media, when giving a talk, being interviewed on a podcast, requesting funding, or showing your artwork at an exhibition. Even if you are happy with your current artist statement, you and your work are always evolving, growing, and changing and your statement should evolve along with you.
An artist statement invites the viewer to look closer and re-examine first impressions. You, the artist, talking and writing about your work, are in a position to provide language that shapes perception. If you have spent time in the contemporary art world you know that art can be hard to understand even for experienced artists. Your words can help your audience “see” and give them a compelling reason to look closer.
Your art reflects your unique point of view, life experiences, identity, values, and what matters to you. What you create is part of your DNA and there will never be anyone else on earth exactly like you. Your choice of style, skill, subject matter, and medium is yours alone. Your artist statement is an opportunity for you to connect with your audience and convey what you do and who you are as an artist.
Begin your writing process by defining your audience. Who are you writing for?; someone who might buy your art? art show judges? social media? sponsors? museum boards? teachers? students?
How: How did you make this? How did you use the medium or combine mediums? How did you physically engage with the creation? How is it constructed? How are you uniquely presenting the subject? How did accidents or discoveries lead you to the finished work? What: What is the viewer looking at? What is it made of? What was your process? What does it represent? What are you investigating? What was the initial inspiration? What could you say that would encourage looking closer? Why: What do you believe in? What belief are you investigating? How does personal belief/viewpoint/conviction come through your art? What emotion was primary while you made this artwork? I highly recommend consulting the book “Art-Write” by Vicki Krohn Amorose for her many sample sentences, jump-off questions, and sage advice. I featured several of her ideas here. She suggests that after you write your first draft, you should ask yourself the questions below and then re-write and revise your work again: Do my words explain what people are seeing? Is there a sentence I could translate from “artspeak” to plain language? Is this the truth? Do I fully understand what I wrote? What words might create a better understanding for the reader? What is my tone? Am I boring myself? What can I eliminate to be more concise? Does my statement encourage closer examination of the artwork?
Only you can write your artist statement. Your art reflects your unique point of view, life experiences, identity, values, and what matters to you - you deserve to be heard. Your artist statement explains to the viewer what makes your work yours, what sets your work apart, and what makes you different from everyone else—even from artists whose work is similar. If you would like to delve more deeply into your own inner questions and clarify your thoughts as you create an artist statement for your website, a gallery show, a sponsor, or another project, please reach out, and let’s talk. I have helped many students write compelling statements for AP Art, college applications, and competitions. I am here to support you in your artistic evolution. I invite you to allow me to lovingly guide, and accompany you in your artistic growth. With light and delight, Susan Convery