This blog focuses on the joys, challenges and lessons of living the creative life—and make a living doing it!
Author Gayle Mahoney is an arts marketing consultant and has shown and sold her own artwork for over 25 years.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Make a great artist statement

The purpose of an artist’s statement is to introduce the audience to your art, and to enable them to engage with the art by providing a context for the work and some reference points as places to start.

Paragraph 1: Introduce the “big picture” of your work/approach as an artist. Write a broad statement that applies to all of your work, not just the work in this series or individual piece. This might include why you are an artist, what inspires you.

Paragraph 2: Describe your process of making art. Where do you start? How is your approach unique? How do materials, people, philosophies, the world around you impact your work?

Paragraph 3: Comment on specific works this statement refers to. Use one or two specific examples of work being exhibited. This is where you talk about your intent, what the work means, what you feel or think about your own work.

• Write three versions – long (500-1000 words), medium (200-400 words), and short (50-100 words). The longer version might be used by a gallery that represents you or as part of a grant application; the medium version would be on one page and would most likely be mounted on the wall with your work; the short version is useful for social media, web and calendar listings.

• Avoid artspeak and flowery language: do not use language only an art history teacher would understand. Use words the general public would understand. Remember that you are trying to engage the viewer, do not use language that could be a barrier.

• Talk about specifics: color, line, materials, imagery, symbols, etc. and mention examples in the work being shown.

• Write in first-person – use “I” statements.

• Artist statements are not meant to be biographical, so leave out your life narrative unless that is what the work is about. That’s what artist bios are for.

• Don’t list accomplishments like exhibitions, awards, etc. Those go in your resume.

• Your words should match your work – write in a tone that reflects the feeling of your work.

• Ask people who don’t know you or your work to read your statement and ask them if it makes them want to see your work, do they understand what you are talking about.

• Some questions to get you started: Why do you create art? What does your art mean to you? What inspires you? How are your inspirations expressed in your work? What message are you trying to convey to the viewer? How is your art a reflection of you? How do your technique/style relate to your medium? What is unique about your approach, how you use materials, etc.?

 “Your primary focus should be to increase the reader’s interest in your art, which usually means helping them understand the reasoning behind your art as well as some of the methods you used to create it.” 

Additional resources:

If all else fails… the artist statement generator:

Do you need more support in your business as an artist? Then please contact Carolyn Edlund at She will be able to assist you or direct you to others who can!

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