Writing An Artist Statement? This can help

artist statement blog

There I was, walking down the stairs of the San Diego Arts Institute followed by my echoing steps. There were only five people in the room, one of them was Ginger Shulick Porcella (director and curator at SDAI),  and she was the one giving the workshop. It was no surprise that we were so few, after all writing Artists Statements is one of the most dreaded and feared subjects for most artists, and we were about to spend two hours doing just that.

To my surprise, the two hours went fast thanks to Ginger’s ability to keep the subject simple, engaging and interactive. I didn’t leave with my statement done, but now I have a better path to follow.

So here are some basics to get things flowing.

Before writing your artist statement consider this:

KEEP IT SHORT, 250 words or less will do.

KEEP IT SIMPLE, use everyday language.

STICK TO ONE PRONOUN, first or third person are both good to use, but stick to one.

You might want to rant and rave and give a lecture about your work because you poured your heart and soul into it, but, long and complex might end up not being read at all.

Questions to be answered in your statement:

  • What do you do? Try to be as concrete as you can here.
  • What is you work made of? Do you have any particular technique?
  • What does your work signify or represent?
  • Why do you make it? What does it mean to you?

Try to avoid:

  • Don’t include personal information unless your work is self referenced. An Artist Statement is not a bio.
  • Don’t compare yourself with another artist. The “It is kind of like so and so” is a big turn off and makes the reader think about somebody else’s work instead of yours.
  • Don’t talk about past work. Focus on what you are currently doing.
  • Don’t tell people what to think. You want to encourage interpretation of your work.
  • Don’t try to be funny, it can be seen as amateurish.
  • Don’t get to personal. I’m sure you’ll want to credit your mom or significant other for being the light in your life but please don’t.
  • Don’t be too wordy.

I’m sure you are already bored out of your mind just thinking about finally finishing that artist statement. But wait, here’s the best part and my favorite take on the workshop:

HAVE SOMEBODY ELSE WRITE IT FOR YOU

Yes, that was the main piece of advice Ginger gave. Relieving right?

Now, call that friend that’s so good with words, buy her/him a coffee and tell them all about your work.

Hope this helped!

Mucho Amor,

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