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, it could be anything—simple, complex, an explanation of what inspires you, or anything you want to augment your work.
- Does your work need to be fully explained? This is up to you. As a guideline, you should decide what serves the work best. Does the viewer need to know what materials you’ve used? This may or may not be relevant to the critical understanding of your work. Does the viewer need to know where your subject material came from? It may already be self-evident. The best thing you can do is decide for yourself what serves your work best.
- Have you looked at examples of other artist’s statements? This in my opinion is one of the best ways to get a sense of what an artist statement is, what kind of statement appeals to you, and what you might want to include or omit from your own statement. There are many formulaic articles out there telling you “how to write an artist’s statement in X amount of steps”—but then your statement will be just that, formulaic. You should of course never copy or plagiarize from anyone else’s statement, but instead, look at other artists’s statements for inspiration and research. Below are links to some artist’s statements that you can read online:
Canadian Artist Julian Forrest’s artist statement
Wisconsin-based artist Jennifer Angus’ artist statement
Stephen Shore’s artist statement
Photographer Jannica Honey’s artist statement
Emily Carr University’s Writing Centre offers a fantastic list of examples to artist statements