What to include... and what to omit

How to Write An Artist's Statement

by Melanie Stagg

This article first appeared in the Milwaukee Artistís Resource Network website " title="http://marnonline.com/\">" target="_blank">marnonline.com/"> marnonline.com/ marnonline.com/

There are many instances in which an artist is asked to compose an artist statement. Whether in response to a specific request by a gallery or collector, in response to a particular grant proposal or in conjunction with a curatorial statement, or simply at the will of the artist, there are certain guidelines one should follow to creating an effective artist statement.

The intention of an artist statement is to be positive and educational. Not only does it clarify for the artist and the professionals with whom s/he may work, but it also prevents any misrepresentation of the artistís intent to the public and peers. The objectives of the artist statement are to inform, identify, and educate. You may believe that your art should and does speak for itself, but an artist statement acts as a basic introduction to your artwork, not an explanation.

Your artist statement should include such basic information as why you create your art, how you create it, and what materials are used. This should be kept simple Ė use language that will make sense to any potential buyers, collectors, or viewers of your art. You may want to mention any important or relevant influences that may set a context for your artwork. Discuss the process or technique if it is particularly unusual or an important element to understanding your medium.

Certain things should not be included in an artist statement, such as awards, exhibitions, and collections. These belong on your resume and will not be helpful to those reading your statement. Keep your statement short and succinct Ė as little as a few paragraphs but no more than a page. Avoid art jargon and language that those outside the art world may not be familiar with.

Itís important to remember that, although you may not like the idea of writing about your art, your artist statement is an important part of your professional career as an artist. It is meant to educate those who see your artwork about who you are as an artist and what you create.

For more help on writing an artist statement, follow these links:

Advice on Art: the dreaded artist statement

NAIA: Artists Information Statement

Your Artist Statement: Explaining the Unexplainable