How to write an artist statement

How to write an artist statement

An artist statement is necessary to introduce new audiences to your work. You’ll need it for funding application forms, when submitting to some open calls, proposals and to accompany your work during exhibitions.

We’ve compiled a short list of what to include and what not to include, to help you communicate what matters.

Know your audience

It should have essential details including the mediums you work in, why you chose these mediums, how you use certain techniques and why, the concepts you explore in your art and how your work has evolved over time.

Try not to focus too much on yourself as an artist, that’s what your artist biography is for. Concentrate more on describing your creative process. Ask yourself, what do l think my audience will gain from viewing my work? Does it address a broader societal theme or topic? Why is it important that my work is seen?

Artists sometimes drown their statements in complex terminology which can seem contrived and unclear. Of course it’s beneficial to use some art terms, but do so sparingly and only when it’s relevant. Even curators don’t want to read through dense paragraphs of jargon. A good artist statement will enhance the reader’s understanding of your work.

IT'S YOUR WORK

Write your statement in the first person. You’re talking about your work and explaining why you think it matters. Adopt an objective tone and avoid telling the reader how they will interpret your art. Let them be the ones to decide.

Your artist biography can be written in the third person.

IT'S YOUR WORK

Write your statement in the first person. You’re talking about your work and explaining why you think it matters. Adopt an objective tone and avoid telling the reader how they will interpret your art. Let them be the ones to decide.

Your artist biography can be written in the third person.

DON'T OVERDO IT

Keep it to the point and be concise. There’s no need to overexplain—you want to build curiosity in your reader.

A statement can be anything from a paragraph to one A4 page in length, but no more. You may need both a long version (one page) and a short version (a couple of paragraphs) depending on what’s required by different galleries or requested in application forms.

PROOFREAD

Ask a friend or peer to proofread your statement. You might think you’ve provided a clear narrative of your artistic practice over time, but a friend who is already familiar with your art might be able to suggest better adjectives or phrasing (and catch any typos).

Asking someone unfamiliar with your work is also a good idea. Show them your art alongside your statement, and ask if it gives them a clear understanding of your practice.

PROOFREAD

Ask a friend or peer to proofread your statement. You might think you’ve provided a clear narrative of your artistic practice over time, but a friend who is already familiar with your art might be able to suggest better adjectives or phrasing (and catch any typos).

Asking someone unfamiliar with your work is also a good idea. Show them your art alongside your statement, and ask if it gives them a clear understanding of your practice.

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