Writing an artist statement can sometimes be a challenging task. These writing tips can guide you through the writing process.
1. They Should be Understandable to Anyone: The most effective artist statements are readable and anyone can understand, even to someone who isn’t familiar with the art world. Your statement should support the art its describing, perhaps decode it a bit for the viewer if you wish, but essentially shouldn’t create more confusion.
2. Get Specific with Your Words…but Leave the Jargon Behind: Many artists statements can get packed with words that don’t actually say much. Sweeping statements and generalities make for a boring artist statement. Being specific can help with this issue. Be careful though, getting specific doesn’t necessarily mean plugging in art speak. Never plug in fancy language and jargon to make it sound like what you think an artist statement should sound like.
3. Format them as a Paragraph: An artist statement is a statement., meaning its a short paragraph (or two). Its not a piece of narrative, its not a poem, and its also not a page long explanation. We can get pretty creative with our artwork, but we don’t need to get creative with the way an artist statement is formatted. Most opportunities who request an artist statement are looking for a formatted paragraph, not a piece of creative writing.
4. Keep them Short in Length: Keep it short, a few hundred words or less. You should be able to distill your ideas and get to the point pretty quickly in 4 to 7 sentences. The statement should describe what you do and why you do it. One paragraph is the perfect length, when you write more than two paragraphs you begin to loose readers.
5. You Need to be the Author: You can always work with a consultant or a fellow artist to help you with your technical writing, but your artist statement should always be authored by you, never by someone else.
6. Let Your Personality Shine: Be sure to allow your personality and uniqueness to shine through your statement.
7. Edit, Edit, Edit: Always have a friend read over your artist statement. An outside perspective (and a good editor) can benefit you greatly. Spelling and grammar should be on point.
8. Multiple Versions: Like a resume, you can have multiple versions of your artist statement. You can have an overall big picture artist statement, statements for series of works or a statement for an individual piece. Think of your artist statement as a working document. Its something you can always change and update, and it should be changed and updated when your work evolves.
9. There’s No Wrong Way: You can’t do an artist statement wrong. Any if you Google search how to write one, you will find countless tips and ways to write it. The only time you need to tailor your artist statement to a specific format is when an opportunity has asked you to submit a specific statement, word count or format. Follow these guidelines for each opportunity you apply to.
Still having trouble avoiding art speak and jargon? Check out this blog post to help!