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Article: Artist Statement Essentials

An artist statement is an introductory text that provides a contextual background for your artwork. There is no formula for an artist statement, but it might include information about how the work developed (its source and direction), the underlying idea and structure, the conceptual aspects, your philosophies, and/or possible influences. In some cases, the statement may address the use of particular materials and processes.

The artist statement is extremely important because it provides insight into the work by helping to clarify the focus or concept. Many directors, gallerists, reviewers, and curators rely on statements to help them understand and evaluate your work, particularly when all they have are reproductions to review.

DO’S
    • Tone should be expressive of your work, i.e. it could be reserved, theoretical, academic, analytic, humorous, antagonistic, or political as long as it provides an accurate reflection of your work.
    • Statement should relate to the visuals.
    • Be simple, concise, clear, and direct – statement should be no longer than one page.
    • Do a spell check and review for grammatical errors.
    • Refer to yourself in the first person, not “the artist”.
    • Talk about the media if it there is potential for confusion.

DON'TS
    • Avoid “artspeak” and convoluted lingo.
    • Do not attempt to impress anyone with statements that do not ring true with the work.
    • Do not describe what is visible.
    • Do not outline your entire history and upbringing, unless your artwork is autobiographical or it has a direct relationship with your work, and if so, be brief.
    • Don’t tell the reader how they will feel, change their outlook on life or whether or not people liked it.
    • Avoid self-indulgence.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
    • What are the basic themes of your work?
    • Why did you create this work?
    • What drives you as an artist to make the work you do?
    • What are some of your sources or influences?
    • How does this work differ from your previous work?
    • Are there artists you can think of who are working in a similar way or with similar themes?
    • Where do you believe your work fits with current contemporary art?
    • How does your work relate to other art?