A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a well-constructed artist’s statement may hold the key to your professional future. When you seek gallery representation, an artist’s statement (also called an artist statement) is an important piece of your artist’s packet. It basically informs the gallery owners and curators of what your artwork is all about. Gallery owners want to see that you can speak and write clearly and intelligently about your art. They also want insight into your process and your motivations. Some artists like to think that their work “stands for itself”, but since art is so open to interpretation, you need to be able to explain your art in words. People who look at your art need to know your intention, and a well-written artist’s statement will provide them with that insight. If you feel like you’re not a natural writer, don’t pressure yourself. Start off with a blank piece of paper and just brainstorm. Ask yourself these questions:
- What am I trying to say with my art?
- Why do I work in this style?
- What is the meaning behind the imagery I have chosen?
- What do I want others to think or feel when they look at my art?
- What informs my art – what inspires me?
You can also write about the materials you use, the process(es) that you use, and why they both are relevant to what you are trying to express. When you write your first draft, just go with the flow. Write freely and don’t even pause to think about grammar or spelling. Just write. You can polish it later. After you’ve written your first draft, set it aside and come back to it later with fresh eyes. It may take several revisions before it really sings, and that’s normal – artist statements are rarely “finished” after the first go. Your goal as you rewrite is to trim and tidy your artist statement until it is concise, well-worded, and revealing. At this point you should also ask your friends or family for their feedback, as they may notice things you could include or take out. The length of your artist statement can typically be anywhere from 100-1000 words, as long as it says what it needs to say. To be sure, you can often double-check a gallery’s submission requirements on their website. If no guidelines are given, the main thing is to make sure the entire artist statement fits neatly on one page, double-spaced. Your finished artist statement is now ready to be part of your artist packet that you send off to prospective galleries. In a future article we’ll take a closer look at the other things you’ll need to include in your artist packet.