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How to Write Your Artist Statement


How To Write Your Artist Statement
Artist statement. No two words can inspire such fear and disgust in the hearts of artists. I know, I know. You hate it. Most artists tend to despise this task above all others. And I think I know why. Writing doesn't come naturally to many artists who are used to expressing through visual media and then to have to make a statement in words about something as ephemeral as art seems clunky and crude. I have felt this way many times myself but decided to dedicate myself toward always evolving my artist statement once I came to one poignant realization. It wasn't realizing that my artist statement can offer people insight to my work (which it can) but by realizing that not having an artist statement  built an invisible wall that shut people out and kept them from having a deeper connection with my work even when they wanted just that. How did I come to this realization? By being in the position of looking at a website of an artist whose work I really liked and wanting some information about their work and not finding it - it was really frustrating!

So let's not frustrate people - let's give them what they want: an artist statement. An artist statement about each body of work that you create is obviously ideal but you might want to start with creating at least one "go-to" artist statement that covers all of your recent works.

 

Step 1. DIG DEEP.

Commit to this. This is not sitting down in front of a blank screen or a blank sheet of paper and hammering something out. You need to find some gems here. For the next few days or at least 24hrs I want you to commit to thinking about your work and your process and writing down some of your ideas about your work - 2 or 3 is fine. If you keep a journal or have previous writing about your work this is a great time to review these documents and looks for common themes that encapsulate your work. 

Answer these questions:

a)What type of artist am I ?

b)What is important to me about my process?

c)Describe the attributes of my work and common themes that reoccur.

 

Step 2. CREATE A BASIC OUTLINE.

After Step 1 you should have stumbled upon 2 or 3 ideas about your work that are relevant to you. 

In blunt language write your statement following the example below:

a) What type of artist are you: I am a painter. I paint portraits. 

b) What is important about your process:

-It's important to have interesting lighting on my subjects. I use a variety of different lamps to create these effects.

-It's important that my subjects don't look like they are posing for a snapshot, with a big smile, and that they don't look too stern.I like to get an expression that is a bit more ambiguous. 

c) Describe the attributes of my work and common themes that reoccur: I often use a very subdued palette or a limited palette. I like to change the proportion of the figures features slightly. I frequently invent patterns in the clothing of the subject and work little symbols into the patterns. 

 

Step 3. FLESH OUT IDEAS.

I have heard arguments for writing your statement in the first person ie. making "I" statements and for writing statements in the third person (Ex. "Rebeca Chaperon is an artist from Vancouver, BC). You need to decide which you prefer. If you choose to write your artist statement in the first person and make "I" statements you will have the advantage of welcoming people to understand your art in a direct and friendly way.

Also please consider that the following points can be rearranged in different order:

a)What type of artist am I ?

b)What is important to me about my process?

c)Describe the attributes of my work and common themes that reoccur.

 

In this case let's start with "B" and get right to the heart of what is important to the artist's process and then hit the other points. Point "B" is great because you can expand it in many ways. You can help illustrate what is important to you by mentioning what you are working against.

 

One of the most important aspects of my process is that I can capture an expression contains enough mystery that it is open to interpretation. I am not interested in painting smiling characters or a gruff curmudgeons. I am interested in an expression that falls in the realm of wistful introversion.

 

Then we can add point "C" as follows.

 

My works tends to follow themes of meditation and focus on the inner journey of human existence. I am inspired by anomolies in nature and enjoy distorting reality by altering the subject's facial proportions.

 

Then we can add "A" at the end if we want.

 

I am an oil painter with a background in watercolour painting which inspires my oil technique in that I like to create "washes" of colour with a glazing medium.

 

These 3 statements can be put together to create a short but compelling statement. Adding in some of the other points from the basic outline can help add depth and volume to the statement.

 

4. UPLOADING YOUR NEW STATEMENT TO YOUR ARTIST RUN WEBSITE

 

Log in and click edit website:
Edit Website Screen shot
Click page to add a new page:

Page Website Screen Shot
Give your new page a title and cut and paste your new artist statement into the window. Don't forget to hit save!

Artist Statement Screen Shot 


About the author

Artist in residence Rebecca Chaperon

Rebecca Chaperon is our Artist-in-Residence

With a compulsion to create unique visual stories, her paintings often follow the thread of a heroine's misadventures through a surreal landscape.

She's had the pleasure of teaching at Langara College and given community workshops on painting techniques with an emphasis on watercolour, oil and acrylic. She is a board member at the Grunt gallery.

View her online portfolio
Website: thechaperon.ca

Read more of Rebecca's posts

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