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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Artist Statement: A Necessary Evil?

An email I received from an online art gallery said I needed to fill out my profile with an Artist Statement. Their reasons for asking for it made sense. Art collectors want to know the story behind you and and your art before they will spend their hard-earned cash on your creations. Still, it doesn't make it any easier to write.

As with any resume or bio, definitely include relevant training and experience. It's hard for me to read bios that refer back to irrelevant childhood incidents. This is not the time to pour out all the details you should probably discuss with a therapist. I don't agree with the theory that all artists must suffer in order to produce "significant" art, and even if you have, it isn't up for public distribution.

My email suggested that I should include information on where I was born and raised and where I currently live. While (hopefully) I don't think they want me to hand out my names and address, does it really matter whether I create my art in Chicago or Miami? Except maybe for color choices??

They said that the artist statement is a basic description of your works and your reason creating them. Again, I understand the theory behind that, however, I believe the response to art is so personal that I don't want to tell someone how they should feel after viewing my art. Either they like it and buy it or they don't. I'm reminded of something I learned early on when teaching art to young children. You never ask them about the cat in their painting because it usually isn't a cat and you get the "you're stupid" look. You should say instead "tell me about your painting." After which you can get a whole explanation that sounds vaguely like their "artist statement."

Which brings me back to the key points in writing a statement:
  • Keep it brief
  • Don't over-share
  • Keep it relevant
If you're having any trouble writing your artist statement, please share in the comments!