Try This Magical, 30-Minute Method For Creating a Pretty Darn Good Artist Statement
By Thea Fiore-Bloom, Ph.D
Why do artists hate writing artist’s statements?
Because trying to write or refresh an artist statement usually feels about as good as jabbing the tines of a fork into your forehead.
And, I’ve got the fork marks to prove it.
I’m in the process of rebranding my Etsy shop and I needed a shiny, new artist statement. But the long books I was reading on how to do it left me overwhelmed.
In desperation, I hit YouTube and stumbled onto an eight-minute video by “Breakfast With Sergio” Podcaster, Sergio Gomez, MFA.
In it, Sergio only makes you answer three questions about your art, add some tinkering time, and you got yourself an artist’s statement.
It worked for me, it’s worked for my writing coaching clients, and I bet it will work for you.
So how about we try out this fork-free, three-question method to writing an artist statement— together?
The 3 Questions for Your Down and Dirty Artist Statement
First Artist Statement Question
What kind of art do you make lately?
Are you currently taking extreme closeups of utility poles? Or is your work a melange of genres like mine?
Here’s how I answered the question, “What kind of art do you make currently?”
My book nook shelf inserts are a love child born from the unlikely union of Cabinets of Curiosity from the 1600s, classy historical dollhouse interiors, and junk-based assemblage art.
Now on to question two.
Second Artist Statement Question
How do you make your art?
In other words, what’s your specific process?
I answered the question this way:
To populate the tiny worlds inside my cigar box dioramas I loot through my collections of miniature curios and odd natural history-related artifacts.
I tend to assemble strange, alchemical combinations of objects. For example, I might take a salvaged cerulean-blue moth wing and suspend it in clear resin inside an antique apothecary jar.
Okay, let’s head to the finish line question.
Third Artist Statement Question
Why do you make it?
Put differently, why does it matter? Here’s my answer.
I make these box dioramas to explore what provokes wonder within me.
But more importantly, I make my boxes in hopes of reminding the viewer of the mystery of her own mind, and the magic of her own memories.
When you’ve answered the three questions you’ll have your first draft. And if you obey the following five light-hearted commandments, you’ll have that first draft in as little as fifteen minutes.
The 5 Commandments of Writing a Fast Artist Statement
1. Write two sentences per answer; three in case of emergency.
2. Stay loose. Approach it in the spirit of fun.
3. Write your artist statement in the first person.
4. Refuse to allow any artspeak or art jargon into your answers.
5. Also, don’t be afraid to be different (i.e. yourself). Try to write about your work in a way that makes a reader put a finger to her lip and think; “Oooh, that sounds odd or intriguing…I wonder what this artist’s work looks like? Let me click on over to it.”
Now Onto Tweaking Your Rough Draft
- Don’t edit your draft after you finish the questions. Leave it to sit in peace, and rise like dough for twenty-four hours or so.
- After you let it sit a day or two edit your artist statement for at least fifteen minutes (keeping in mind the pro tips below).
- Go on and let it breathe again for a few days.
- Now pay attention to it by printing it up and reading it out loud to yourself. If it’s ready to roll give it a final polish and check it with Grammarly.
- Consider showing it to a kind friend for feedback.
- Done and done.
8 Pro Tips For Writing a Pretty Darn Good Artist Statement
1. Don’t shoot for perfect- shoot for done. Why? Because done is better than perfect.
2. Remember this is just your artist statement for TODAY. It’s not going to be etched into the stone of the Acropolis. Professional artists trim, tweak, and even completely gut /re-do their artist statements often.
3. “Keep it short and punchy, says art coach Alyson Stanfield. “Leave the reader wanting more, leave them having to go back to your art to look at it.”
4. Don’t talk about famous artists who’ve influenced you. (Because you don’t want people comparing your work to Van Gogh.)
Your Inner Critic is a Loser
5. Hurl your phantom-gallerist-inner-critic out the highest window possible. Instead, write your statement as if you are tapping out an email to that friend who thinks your art is cool.
6. Cut down overly- long sentences. (You know the ones that include wagon loads of dashes and commas). Pop over to my post, Improve Your Art Writing Overnight by Forbidding Yourself These Two Things for immediate help with this.
7. When you’re editing that first draft do away with intensifiers and filler words like “really,” “very” and”extremely” because they weaken writing.
8. After you let your statement sit and you come back to it, you’ll be able to notice you’ve used the same word in different paragraphs. Substitute a synonym. Pretend you’re Joyce Carol Oates and romanticly leaf through a thesaurus or use Thesaurus.com.
Get Custom Coaching to Create a Captivating Artist Statement
Still flummoxed? Try your hand at answering the three questions, then have me help you rearrange your word furniture a bit.
Where to Show Off Your New Artist Statement?
Use your new artist statement for press mentions, press releases, and postcards.
Feature it on your Etsy shop, or the About page of your website. Effortlessly plunk it into applications or place it with pride at the bottom of your newsletter.
Stay confident. You can do this and do it well.
What do you think?
Got a question about artist statements?
Let me know in the comments below.
Additional Artist Statement Resources
I recommend Alyson Stanfield’s free, one-hour YouTube video Artist Statement Makeovers.
Or you might get support from Art Write: The Writing Guide for Visual Artists by Vicki Krohn Amorose.
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