Every time the topic of “The Artist Statement” come up in coaching sessions, artists suddenly seemed gripped with fear and despair. Apparently, doing this exercise feels close to something of a punishment. So, is it really necessary? Do successful artist write artist statements? And more importantly, do art buyers care?
Actually, once the initial panic has settled and following some painful first attempts, the more interesting and exciting it gets. By consciously thinking and engaging in a deeper conversation about their work, artists often discover new aspects and connections. In fact, you often end up with a better understanding of what you’re doing, renewed enthusiasm and confidence.
The ideal situation is to have someone to interact and bounce off ideas with. But what do you do if you’re facing the laptop and have to deliver an artist statement for your upcoming exhibition on a tight deadline?
Artist Statement: Dos and Don’ts
- Use your own words and style
- Stick to what really matters to you in your practice
- Keep it as simple as possible
- State your main practice area (paintor, sculptor, video art…)
- Focus on the work and its content
- Mention where your inspiration comes from
- Mix emotional and theoretical discourse
- Write in the first person /„I“ form
- Answer following questions: How, What and Why
- Keep the text clear and structured
- Don’t speak about your work as if you were an art critic
- Avoid cliché sentences and expressions
- Don’t try to sound clever
- Avoid language that’s very technical on material and/or process
- Avoid anecdotes or personal biographical stories if not directly related to your work
- Don’t rely on sloppy and inaccurate translations
- Don’t use “artistic” font or design
- Don’t forget that the artist statement is a tool for communication!
- Try not to boring, make it exciting!
- Do not make it too long
A clear and well crafted artist statement should be included in every portfolio and artist website. But the artist statement is only one factor when presenting your work to new viewers. Therefore, make sure to seek out feedback from people around you, find out what they get out of your portfolio / website and whether it aligns with the artist statement.
Also, consider how the artist statement fits into the “big picture”. In my workshop Outside The Studio, you’ll get practical information on the protocol, conduct and temperament of the art world. In a total of 9 sessions, the workshop builds on your individual strengths with a hands on approach, based on my knowledge and personal experience from the artworld.
The workshop is divided into three main sections, each with 3 chapters for a total of 9 teaching modules (ca. 180 minutes total). Each section comes with a worksheet, templates and practical assignments. Scroll towards the bottom of this page to get the workshop outline.
We first cover “Meeting the Artworld”, looking at the interaction between the contemporary art market. The second part focuses on “Your Work Outside the Studio”, discussing how to document your work, creating a bio / CV and finally, how to promote yourself elegantly. Lastly, we get to “You Outside the Studio”, looking at the particular networking skills required in this business. This section covers the art of pitching, how to make the opening night a success and follow-up on new contacts and finally, preparing for a studio visit.
- Insight to the “Big Picture” of the art market
- Professional artist management methods
- Further clarity and strategy towards career goals
- Communication skills
- Confidence and motivation