Artists need to stand out from the crowd. How can they make sure their statement gets noticed? We asked several experienced artists for tips and found some useful suggestions.
Think carefully about how you present your work, using a website or portfolio, and whether you have an artist’s statement at all. Most people find it helpful, especially in the early stages of trying to get commissioned. However, we advise that you only write a statement if you are serious about pursuing art and want to convey the essence of your work, rather than just listing your achievements. If you don’t have one, then start with your résumé, using the information given above as inspiration.
We recommend that you write a strong statement that explains the context in which your work was created, and why it is special. For example, “My drawings are based on the shapes of objects and materials. I use the patterns they create as a source of inspiration.” The rest of your statement should focus on your approach to your chosen medium – that is, the medium itself. If you are a painter, explain why the medium appeals to you; if you draw, explain how you approach a subject; if you work in clay, say what techniques you use.
Your statement should include the following details:
• Your name, your age and any other personal information that will help the reader identify your work.
• An artist’s statement that includes the title of your work, the media used and where you show your work.
• A summary of your style and approach, and how your work relates to other artists.
• Details about the subject matter or themes in your work, such as the location, the material or the historical period.
• Your education and any professional experience, including exhibitions, awards and commissions.
• The names and addresses of anyone who helped with the project.
What is a photography artist statement?
A statement tells the reader what you do. It gives information about the nature of your work, how you got into it, and what you hope to achieve. The statement is usually given in the first paragraph of a portfolio or bio.
Why do artists use statements?
1. They are a useful way to describe their work. A statement will show what their style is and what subjects they usually photograph.
2. They make the artist stand out. If you don’t give one, your work could be taken for granted.
3. Statements provide context for the work. For example, if the work is of a particular place or period, the statement will explain this.
4. They show who the artist is. Statements give a sense of personality.
5. They show what the artist has done in the past. A statement provides evidence that you have skills and experience.
6. A statement sets you apart from other photographers. Some people see statements as pretentious. Others think they sound too complicated.
7. A statement is a tool to sell your work. If it is well written, you will appear more professional.
How to write a good artist statement
To write a good artist statement, you need to answer the following questions:
• What are you creating?
Here are some examples:
“I am creating a series of paintings based on the shapes of everyday objects.”
“This series of paintings explores the relationship between the space we live in and our feelings.”
“The figures in this painting are my children, and the house they live in is my home.”
“I use the colours in this series of paintings to describe emotions.”
“These drawings are inspired by the landscape around me.”
“I am interested in the way light affects the shapes of objects.”
• How does your work differ from others in the same field?
If you are writing about your work, you might explain how it differs from other artists who are already working in the medium you are using. You might, for example, write:
“Although my work uses the same subject matter as other artists, it has a different visual impact because of the way I work.”
Or you could say:
“My work is based on the shapes of everyday objects, but I do not use the same techniques as other artists, so I can explore the effects of different approaches.”
• Are there any unusual features of your work?
You can explain something unique about your work, for example:
“This piece is my interpretation of the shape of a hand, with all its fingers.”
Or you could describe something unusual about your approach to the medium you use, for example:
“The colour blue is used to represent the sky in my work because it is the colour of water and the air.”
• Describe the subject you choose.
“I choose to portray a small, private moment.”
“I am interested in the lives of ordinary people.”
“I like to portray a moment in time and how people feel about it.”
“I like to explore relationships.”
• Do you produce a lot of work, or just a few pieces?
“I paint every day, but sometimes I take a break.”
“I am very busy, so I work at a fast pace.”
“I only work on a few pieces at a time.”
• What does your work tell us about your personal life?
It’s important to include this information if you think it might help the viewer understand your work. You might write something like this:
“My work is a reflection of my life.”
“I am an only child and a single parent, and I have a close relationship with my parents.”
“My mother is a great source of inspiration for my work.”
• Do you work on commission or are you self-employed?
“I usually work on commission.”
“I am a freelance artist, so I work on a number of projects at once.”
“I am always looking for new commissions.”
• What are your plans for the future?
It is important to let the reader know where you are going, and what you intend to do next.
“I am looking forward to showing my work in a gallery.”
“I want to move away from oil painting and to concentrate on other media.”