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10 Tips for Writing Your Artist Statement

November 22, 2009

art galleryWant to get your art into galleries? An artist statement is an essential part of that process. In a previous post, I did an introduction on how to write an artist statement. Now, here are ten tips to help you get started, find ideas, clarify your message, and polish your presentation!

 

1. Get a Head Start

Don’t think you can whip up a statement the night before it’s due!  Because writing an artist statement is so distasteful, we sometimes tend to put it off until the last minute. You should be thinking about your statement long before it’s due. Give yourself time to craft a statement that is well thought out and well put together. You will need that extra time for rewriting and editing.

 

2. Generate Ideas with Freewriting

This is a great way to start generating ideas when you just can’t get started. Start with something simple like “My art is…” or “I paint…” and describe the physical aspects of your work. Let your mind wander and write down whatever you think of. Don’t worry about structure or grammar, just write. You might be surprised at where your mind goes, but you’ll definitely get a good start on putting to paper what you think about your work.

 

3. Try A Reflective Statement

A reflective statement is a quick piece of writing that you can do after completing a piece or a body of work. It gives you an opportunity to express your thoughts and feelings while they are still fresh in your mind and can lead to some interesting epiphanies when it comes to  your work.

 

4. Go For Clarity

Keep in mind that your statement is meant to compliment and clarify your artwork. The people who read it are looking for more insight into what you’re doing. A concise, straight-forward writing style will help get your ideas across. Try to avoid a lot of that vague art jargon that the average person won’t understand. You want this to appeal to curators, but also to regular gallery visitors.

  

5. Find Examples

An excellent way to get an idea of how to write your statement is to look at other artists’. The internet makes this much easier than it might have been before. Most artists post their statements somewhere on their website, so find artists that work with similar media or ideas as you do and see how they express themselves.

 

6. Read, Read, Read

A similar idea is to get your hands on some art magazines and read about art of your genre. Or if you have a few artists that you admire, find some interviews. This is a good way to clarify your ideas, because you can see what other people say about similar work and decide whether you agree or disagree.

 

 7. Get a Second Opinion

Getting a friend to look over your writing can be very helpful to determine if you’re communicating your ideas effectively. Try this with both artsy people and non-artsy people to get different view points.

 

8. Re-read and Re-write

Editing is a huge part of this process. This is why it’s a good idea to start early; you will need time to go over everything. Every time you re-read your statement, focus on refining your ideas and communicating in a clear and effective way. Often, your thoughts will be clearer after taking a short break from writing.

 

9. Do Regular Check-Ups

Don’t assume that once your statement is written, you’re set for life! It’s a good idea to re-visit your statement on a regular basis to make sure it reflects your current work. The Art Biz Blog has some good tips for how to hone your artist statement.

 

10. Don’t Forget Grammar!

For some, this goes without saying, but for others it can be a struggle. Good grammar demonstrates care and professionalism, all very important for getting an art show. Spellcheck is good, but don’t rely on it completely! Having someone else edit your work can really help with this.

 

Don’t forget to sign up for your email description to get the latest articles in your inbox! Coming up are explanations of the other elements of the exhibition proposal.

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2 Comments
  1. Miranda: You have some great tips here and I appreciate your mention of the Art Biz Blog. The only one I disagree with is #5. I think reading other artist statements isn’t necessarily a good move. There are so many bad ones out there that you might get the wrong idea. One of the tips I give in my workshops is to never read other statements while writing your own. I find it just confuses the heck out of people. Just my two cents.

    • Hi Alyson. Thanks for stopping by!

      You make an excellent point! It’s like anything on the internet, there’s good and there’s bad. Perhaps it would be best to add to #5 that people should stick to artists they are familiar with and whose work they respect. I know that I’ve gotten a lot of insight and clarification from reading other statements, but only from a very select few artists.

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