Suggestions for Writing your Artist’s Statement

I purposely did not call this post “how to write an artist’s statement.”

Because the answer is, there is no definitive right or wrong way to write an artist’s statement. The main purpose of an artist’s statement is to augment your artistic practice. This could be by offering background information, an explanation of your process, or any other information that will enhance the critical understanding of your work. Below are some suggestions to consider:

  • Why are you writing an artist’s statement? A good place to start is to consider who you are writing to, and what you want to tell them. If your artist’s statement is requested in a submission, you probably want to offer practical background information on your process, making it easy for whoever is considering your work to readily understand where you are coming from. If you have decided to write an artist’s statement to accompany an exhibition of your work, Continue reading
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Online Resources for Artists


Artist’s Legal Outreach
The Artist’s Legal Outreach is an indispensable resource for British Columbia and Canadian Artists. Run by volunteers of lawyers, law students, and many others, the ALO offers clinics on artist’s legal issues, non-profit charity legal issues, and workshops. Their website includes toolkits and resources for artists, offering answers to questions like “how do I copyright my work?” and “what is infringement?”

Google Alerts
Google Alerts are free, automated, and customized searches provided by Google, emailed to you at a frequency of your choosing. When you specify a search term, for example, “Marcel Dzama”, Google will regularly email you all updated websites, news, blogs, etc which mention Marcel Dzama. Along with research or personal interest, Google Alerts are also useful to artists to enter their own name as a search term: all of your relevant articles and mentions will be emailed to you.

Instant Coffee
Instant Coffee is a free, Vancouver / Toronto based email list of art events, openings, calls for submission, artist retreats, available studios, and more. You can sign up for specific lists for Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax, Alberta, Montreal, or else for the national list which includes items Canada-wide.

MailChimp is an email marketing tool, offering templates and subscriber storage. If you send out a newsletter to your clients and fans, MailChimp is an excellent way to organize your mail-out. The service is provided for free if you have under 2,000 subscribers and send out up to 12,000 emails per month. For larger plans, they have nominal fees. MailChimp also offers tracking, analytics, social integration, and more.

The Effective (and Respectful) Email Blast for Artists

Sending out emails or an email blast to friends, clients, and fans is a great way for artists to self-promote. Below are a few tips about what to include, what not to include, and how to respect people’s inboxes.

1. Don’t be shy
When you’re first starting to send out email blasts, you may not have a large list of people clamoring to get your updates. You should start by sending emails to existing clients or those who have an expressed interest in your work, but you can also send emails to family or close friends who you think might be interested. If you do this, make sure to follow the next point.

2. Include an “unsubscribe” option at the bottom of your email
A simple note at the end of your email makes it easy for people to let you know if they would prefer to not receive your email updates. It can be very simple: “If you do not wish to receive email updates from _____, please reply to this email with ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject line”. Make sure to remove people from your list who have done this. If you use an automated list manager like Continue reading

Essential Information for Choosing Mat Board


Matting your paper artworks or photographs has two main benefits:

1. The mat holds the surface of your artwork away from your glazing (usually glass or plexi-glass). If artwork touches the glazing surface, it will eventually stick due to humidity, and the work will be ruined.

2. The mat creates a clean visual border between your frame and your artwork.


Mats exist in varying qualities. Their archival rating depends on the acid content of the material. Wood (paper) pulp naturally Continue reading

How to Write an Artist’s CV in 10 Steps

A CV or curriculum vitae is an overview of your artistic professional history and achievements. Although it looks similar to a resume, it contains different elements which are only related to your artistic professional practice.

One mistake emerging artists often make in writing their CVs is trying to oversell their work. Less is more. Your CV should be neatly organized, and only include information pertinent to your artistic career.

What should you include on a CV? Here is where how to compose one in 10 steps:

1. Personal details.

Often, more established artists will keep it simple. This is because their CV is usually referenced as a biography rather than a resume.

Damian Hirst (b. 1965, UK)

However, you can include contact information if you are sending out your CV to galleries in the hopes that they will reply:

Damian Hirst, (b. 1965, UK) | | 604.555.1234

Either of these formats is appropriate for an artist’s CV. Just keep in mind that you should only include your website if it directly relates to your artistic practice.

2. Education.

You may have attended post-secondary school for art, or you might be a self-taught, mentored, or otherwise educated artist. Generally speaking, this section of a CV relates to institutional education specifically in the field of visual arts. If you do have post-secondary education in the arts field, include the school(s), the year(s) that you graduated, and the degree(s):

University of British Columbia, Master of Fine Arts, 2009
Emily Carr University, Bachelor of Fine Arts, 2005

If you do not have a degree in the visual arts field, fear not. This section of the CV is not a pre-requisite for exhibitions or gallery representation. The only thing to note is Continue reading

Choosing Hardware to Hang Artwork

Many hardware options and methods exist for hanging different artworks. The following hardware and hanging examples are meant as a guideline for those wanting to hang their own artwork, however, please keep in mind that every individual project is different. If in doubt, it is best to contact a professional. Please find a list of Vancouver art installers at the bottom of this post.



Examples of d-rings


Affixing D-rings to your artwork and hanging without wire is a secure and sturdy method for mounting artwork to the wall. In my experience it is the most common way to hang small and medium-sized artwork, and even larger paintings which are not too heavy. This method will work if you have either a frame or a canvas or panel stretcher which will facilitate a d-ring. The benefit to using this method rather than hanging on a wire is the work will rest more flush with the wall, and will not shift or become un-level. Artwork can be hung using d-rings by following these steps:

  1. Measure the height of your work. Make a mark 1/3 from the top of the work.
  2. Use an awl to start a hole where you want to place the screw.
  3. Screw the d-rings into place on both sides Continue reading

Twitter Users With Great Arts-Related Content

Twitter is an excellent way to keep up with art news and events. Below are a short selection of Twitter users in Vancouver and Canada who regularly post quality, informative arts-related content.

The Alliance for Arts and Culture is a Vancouver organization offering free information about arts funding, exhibition opportunities, jobs, finance, and more. Tweets local arts news, issues, and announcements.

Vancouver’s grassroots-turned-blockbuster Cheaper Show is an annual one-night exhibition showcasing local and international artists, all work sold at a uniform and affordable price. The Cheaper Show tweets news and press surrounding the show as well as other local arts exhibition info and events.

@theartmarket_ca publishes information about Canadian artists, auction houses, galleries, events, and more. Tweets link to information on exhibition openings across Canada as well as auction and market news of interest.

Stop BC Arts Cuts is a website devoted to rallying for funding for British Columbia’s cultural sector. Tweets about arts-funding news and events.

@Cdn_Art_Fdn / @cdnartmagazine
The Canadian Art Foundation publishes Canadian Art Magazine, an original and influential visual art magazine in Canada. Tweets about art events and news.

Please feel free to leave other quality arts-related Twitter users you have discovered in the comments below.

Do’s and Don’t’s of Submitting Artwork to a Gallery


Research the gallery you are submitting to. Make sure you’re not wasting your time submitting to galleries that would not show the kind of work you make.

Inquire about whether the gallery is actually accepting submissions. Your portfolio in the garbage doesn’t benefit anyone.

Respect the gallery staff, regardless of who you talk to. Being rude to the intern will not land you an appointment with the curator if the intern schedules appointments. Becoming friends with the staff is a good way to get a positive recommendation.

Attend openings or exhibitions that the gallery puts on. You are more likely to meet and talk to staff, who will then regard your submission inquiry with more care.

Contact other artists who show at the gallery. There’s no guarantee they will reply, but if you politely ask questions or for advice, this might be your best insight into the workings of the gallery. Many artists have websites and are easy to reach via email.


Be pushy or think that demanding attention will get you attention. (It is more likely to get your submission in the garbage).

Be unrealistic about your career. Submit to galleries who show artists in similar stages of their careers.

Request a critique of your work. That’s not the job of a gallery and you end up looking like an amateur.

Harass the staff if your submission has been declined. Instead, ask if you can keep them updated about your future work via email.

Lose hope. Persistence, hard work, and a good attitude will pay off.


Which Gallery Should I Sumbit To?

There is a lot of work and cost involved in preparing submissions to send to galleries. I have put together a list of tips to create an intelligent  submission strategy which will streamline your preparations and hopefully pay off with less work.

1. Find galleries that show artwork of a similar genre to yours.  The research for this can be as simple as looking at a gallery’s website. Shockingly, there are a huge number of artists who fire off submissions to galleries before doing any research at all. This becomes  evident when, for example, a submission from a local street photography artist arrives at a gallery which only shows historical paintings.

2. Once you have found a number of galleries that you think would show work of your genre, research their artists further. Be analytical and realistic about your career and your art. Some things to consider:

-Are the artists they show local to their community (are you?)
-Are the artists they show emerging or established (how does this compare to you?) *if their artists tend to have shows in large public institutions, and you have not yet had a show, they are not who you should be submitting to. Ideally, you want to be looking for a gallery which shows work similar to yours and that supports artists who are in similar stages of their careers.

3. Once you have whittled down your list of potential galleries, inquire to each establishment about their submission policy. Each gallery has a different preference, and you are likely to get more attention from them if you send them material in the form they prefer. Some will only accept unsolicited submissions by email, some will not look at email. Some will not be accepting submissions at all. While in contact with the gallery, you can also ask if there is a specific person you should be directing your submission to.

4. Once you have done enough work to decide which galleries you will contact and what format they prefer, you are ready to prepare your materials and submit. At this point, I can’t stress enough the importance of being polite and respectful. Every gallery receives droves of submissions, and they have the luxury of choosing or not choosing artists to show. Being pushy, demanding, or unrealistic about your work will only make you undesirable to potential galleries. Being polite and respectful will usually earn you a polite and respectful response.

Good luck!

Copyright The Practical Art World, 2011

How to Hang Artwork

Many galleries and museums hang artwork based on where the centre of an artwork falls. This is so the work looks consistent with other works on display. A common guideline for works in an exhibition is to have the centre of the work between 56 and 58 inches from the floor, as this is the average line of vision. Aligning the centre heights of each work creates an even and consistent installation:

The centre of each artwork hung at a consistent height

Exceptions to centering the work usually occur when a work is very large. With a larger work, it is best to decide aesthetically what height is best to view the entire work. This is usually lower than the centre median, since if the work is too high would be difficult to view the whole piece.

You can use these steps to hang your artwork at a consistent height:

1. Decide on a centre height for your work, between 56-58 inches or one of your choice, depending on your installation space.

2. Measure he height of your artwork, then mark the centre.

3. Measure the distance between the centre height of the work and the hanging device—whether it be d-rings, a cleat, or wire (Measurement A). If you are measuring for wire, make sure you measure from the centre when the wire is taught, to emulate how the work will hang on the wall.

Measurement A

4. Add Measurement A to your chosen centre height. The sum of these two numbers is Measurement B.

5. Measure from the floor to the height of Measurement B, and install your hanging hardware at this height.

Hang hardware at the height of Measurement B

Once installed, the centre point of your artwork will fall at your chosen centre height. For further information about hardware used for hanging, please read the post Choosing Hardware to Hang Artwork.


Copyright The Practical Art World, 2011