Professional artists face a mythology surrounding what it is a contemporary artist actually does. There is the romanticized perception of the starving artist-genius, slaving away hours in the studio, and then the grunt work that comes with the rather all encompassing career path of being a working creative.
If you have chosen this path, you have probably come to find you need to write. A lot. Most galleries, exhibitions, residencies and art opportunities require a proposal, and definitely need an artist statement. Perhaps you found the perfect grant to fund your practice, only to realize that writing a project proposal seemed like a larger obstacle than funding your vision. Writing about your art (and you, the artist!) doesn’t have to be hard. By understanding the function of statements, proposals, and writing in art you can take on whatever statement, proposal or piece you need to advance your artistic career.
Help us connect your vision to you, the maker.
On writing your artist statement, the hardest part is starting. Just do it! It doesn’t have to be long, it really doesn’t have to be anything. Your statement only needs to be an honest companion to you, the artist, and what you do.
Get Personal. Your artist statement is yours, and yours alone. If you are choosing to be an artist, chances are you are making visual or tactile works that begin with some kind of process or vision. Help us connect your vision to you, the maker. Including the historical and cultural context is the job of the curator, critic, writer and viewer. It is only your job to connect your work to you. Maybe this means your individual process, or perhaps some of your inspirations.
Avoid over the top language or “art-speak”. Art-speak may feel safe or even professional, but it does little for the reader and nothing to set you apart from other artists. Use humor, sarcasm, personal narratives or experiences to connect you to your practice in a way that only you can. Look at other artists you admire, and see how their statement relates to their work. This can also be a good way to find and apply to opportunities relevant to you and your work.
As dreaded as it may be, writing an artist statement is mandatory for most applications for artists. It can also be an eye opening experience for the artist, when you flesh out what really does set you apart from other artists, or what you feel your focus may be. Once it’s written down and stated, you can begin to emphasize what makes your art yours.