With this posting we end our look at artist statements. Writing an artist statement is not a one-time exercise. Yes, an artist should have one that speaks to the body of work in general, but for each exhibit, a specific artist statement must be crafted. It needs to be addressed to the theme of the exhibit and to the work(s) submitted.
What stands out in the copy from these 6 artists is the clarity in which they expressed the ideas behind their works, tying it into the exhibit’s theme. Some talked a bit about their background, some about the works themselves, all discussed how the theme influenced the creation and/or selection of their specific pieces.
However, an artist statement need not explain the works, but what it says should be intelligent enough for the reader, who then views the artwork, to get to know the artist and her/his creative inclinations. And yes, there is room for writing one that is either funny or a rant on something. But, it too, must be clearly written with an end in mind. Some of my favorite statements had me laughing as I viewed the artist’s pieces, others added a thoughtful dimension to the theme. It’s the ones that sound like an alien from another planet wrote it, leaving me scratching my head, that not a good statement makes!
In this continuing series of blog articles by our webmistress Leona M Seufert, who is an artist and a writer, she discusses the importance of communications (letters to galleries, artist statements) and presents some tips on how to talk about yourself and your artwork,
In part one, I discussed the importance of words to present your artwork to the non-artist public and your potential buyers. The holiday season is over but communicating intelligently and clearly about your artwork never stops. This is not just important for seeking sales but also to obtain exhibits and media coverage.
As an artist those words for communications might not come easy. You specialize in creating something visual and words are the domain of writers.
Here are 8 tips on how to make the writing process easier.
- Think of it as a conversation. You are not writing a book. You are talking to the reader, so think of it as if you talking to a person you meet in a gallery where your work is on display.
- Write clearly and simply. Keep in mind that people who read what you write may not be artists or are very literal minded. They won’t understand art world references or jargon.
- Write with enthusiasm about your work. You created a work from a certain emotional base, let that shine through. Even if it’s a dark space for you, the act of creation is always fueled by enthusiasm for what you have to say as an artist.
- Write your text in a word processing program. This applies to especially to social media because by typing everything in online you risk having spelling and grammar errors. Be sure to use the spell checker and grammar checker and reread it over a few times in order to catch the tricky things these programs can’t (like “their” vs there”), and when it’s error free, cut and past it into your social media.
- Learn about how to write journalist friendly press releases. It’s really not that difficult and the web is full of great sources to show you how. (I will discuss this in detail in a future blog entry)
- Craft your artist statement to be interesting, inviting and revealing about you, the artist (I will discuss this in detail in a future blog entry)
- Communications with galleries should always be short and to the point by detailing your background and containing a good statement as to why the gallery should represent you. Your resume and artwork will do the rest.
- Hire a writer to show you how. Really not able to write? Maybe English is your second language, or you just can’t get the hang of it. Then invest in yourself and your art by hiring a professional who knows how to craft great copy. Have that person not only write your posts but also become your private tutor so that eventually writing will become easy for you.
Leona has produced content for the Les Malamut Art Gallery website for the last 6 years. She is a digital artist, visit her Studio ‘L’ website and has a business writing practice in Roselle Park, NJ. She loves to help artists talk about their art and has provided writing consulting services to artists for the last 5 years.