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, 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


 

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5 comments

  1. It is rare to find practiced people within this issue, but you seem like you understand exactly what you are dealing with! Appreciate it

  2. I am not an artist but an English Literature major who loves wordsmithing (3 blogs, also guest writer for Tourism Vancouver’s blog) and who has an interest in visual arts. I also have done business writing, the real practical stuff in my jobs.

    Honest, I’ve been a bit bewildered by some of the artist’s statements of their exhibit or work. Aim to have a touch of didactic style along with brief explanation your source of inspiration for the work. Don’t make the statement too obtuse with poetry or metaphors. After all, I’ve come to see your art, not spend a lot of time reading and deciphering what you are truly trying to tell us through your art. For certain, if you are trying to sell through a gallery showing, then be clear and brilliant as a diamond to me.

  3. Jugni

    this is very helpful.

  4. Thank you for writing such an insightful post. After viewing it, I really stepped away with more of an understanding then I had before.

  5. Hello excellent blog! Does running a blog such as
    this take a large amount of work? I’ve very little understanding of programming but I was hoping to start my own blog in the near future. Anyways, should you have any suggestions or tips for new blog owners please share. I understand this is off topic however I just needed to ask. Cheers!

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