An artist statement gives an artist’s work context and clarity, be it a single piece or whole body of work. It helps the reader understand your processes, mediums, and purposes, which can sway how they interact with and interpret your work. Additionally, it can increase your audience’s appreciation of your techniques and creative endeavors. This article delves into the world of artist statements and teaches you how to create one from an Artist Statement Template.
What Is an Artist Statement?
An artist statement is a brief description of an artist’s work in their own words. It explains what the artist does, why they do it, and how they created a certain piece. Generally, an artist statement can accompany a single piece of art or an entire body of work.
What Is an Artist Statement Template?
An artist statement template is a fillable document that allows artists to describe their work in their own words, especially when applying for a grant or completing their portfolio.
Artist Statement Template
Why Do You Need an Artist Statement?
Many artists prefer that their work speaks for itself, and while this will work in some cases, certain situations require a more proactive approach. This is especially true when:
- You want to make clear your thoughts on a creation
- You are preparing a project or exhibition proposal
- You wish to clarify your ideas to art reviewers
- You are applying for graduate school, a grant, etc
- A media house wants to write a press release for you
Essential Elements of an Artist Statement Template
A well-written artist statement should explain the what, how, and why of a given piece or body of work. These descriptors make up its main elements, which are as follows:
- What: Tell the audience what your subject matter is without exactly telling them how to feel about it. For example, it identifies your work as a landscape, sculpture, or abstract painting.
- How: Describes the materials and medium you used to prepare your piece, e.g., whether you drew in charcoal, used acrylic, or oil paint.
- Why: Discuss your inspiration and influences and the role they play in your work. Also identifies your intentions for creating the piece.
How to Write
As an artist, interpreting a piece of art into sentences on a page can feel unnatural and new to you. However, it doesn’t have to be a daunting task when you have the detailed guide below:
Step 1: Examine Your Art
Collect all your art – if you are reviewing an entire body of work – in one space and examine it closely. Write down some visual and tonal adjectives that come to mind when you look at your work.
Step 2: Determine Your Goal
Determine the feelings and reactions you would like to evoke in your audience and write these down too. Remember, this is your chance to nudge your audience toward your intended results.
Step 3: Describe the ‘What’
From the list of descriptors you prepared in step 1, pick the best that explain what your piece of art is, e.g., a sculpture, painting, durational performance, installation, etc.
Step 4: State the Why
Use the list from step 2 to explain why you created the piece of art. Try to be very natural when drafting this segment, as you will be discussing your personal inspirations.
Step 5: Explain the How
Lastly, curb the audience’s curiosity by explaining your creation process. This step is optional and should only be done if you created the piece through an entirely unique process.
Artist Statement Vs. Artist Bio
An artist biography or bio is a summary of the significant happenings in their lives and how they impacted their art career. It is written in the third person and can include locations (birthplace, work, home), beginnings, inspiration, and career progress.
Artist statements are mostly used in portfolios for joining art competitions or applying for grants or exhibition projects. Bios, on the other hand, can be posted on an artist’s gallery site profile or website. It can also be included in interviews, articles, and exhibition catalogs.
An artist’s bio captures the artist’s real-life events and should, as such, remain relatively constant. In contrast, an artist’s statement can change depending on the piece.
Types of Artist Statements
The type of artist statement you prepare will depend on the piece of art you are describing and the information you wish to share. Your options include:
- Full-Page – This is the most common artist statement and is a general description of you, your work, history, methods, etc.
- Short – This is an abbreviated form of the full-page statement and mostly focuses on the work
- Short Project – Brief, targeted message about a proposed work or project.
- Bio – Includes a short description of your career, accomplishments, etc.
Tips for Writing an Artist Statement
Even knowing how to write an artist statement, explaining visual art through words can feel intimidating. Here are some pointers to help you convey your message:
- Write in the active voice and first-person, using your own words.
- Use a tone that reflects your personal style, i.e., witty, sentimental, funny, etc.
- Keep the length to 100 to 200 words.
- When writing for a grant, focus on your techniques, purposes, and goals.
- When writing for a graduate program, include a detailed description of your processes and concepts.
- Answer all the questions an audience is likely to have about your piece.
- Use simple-to-understand language and avoid technical terms and jargon as they can be construed as alienating (audience) or pretentious (art experts).
- Read your statement out loud to check the flow.
Quick Do’s and Don’ts
- Be precise
- Get straight to the point
- Write in the active voice
- Keep your statement flexible and easy to change
- Edit your work
- Be clear
- Use your signature voice
- Use statements that indicate lack of confidence, e.g., those starting with ‘I am trying’ or “I hope to.”
- Use jargon
- Be generic
- Use pretentious terms
- Write in the passive voice
- Mix voices
- Include a bio
Completing an Artist Statement Template helps you explain your creative intentions and processes to your audience, ensuring your narrative is interpreted as you intended. While you can still leave this crucial task to your art pieces, this writing allows you to explain your work in your own words. It will come in handy when looking for potential buyers, patrons, and audiences.