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Quick Tip: Words Matter – Five Artist Statement Tips

A written statement about an artist and their work is viewed by some as a wonderful opportunity to communicate with collectors, curators, galleries, reviewers, etc. about themselves and their work. Others perceive it as a paralyzing obstacle equivalent to surgery without anesthesia. Whichever camp you fall into, the reality is that artists who

want to participate in exhibits, apply for residencies, seek gallery representation or develop a following may need a great Artist Statement. At its best, it is simply a written introduction to you and your work; it speaks for you when you are not present while your art is being viewed.

There is a lot of guidance online about how to write a strong Artist Statement and what should be in it, so this Quick Tip does not cover that. Instead, it focuses on five key tips to help make whatever you include represent you in the best light.

  1. Make it authentic – not aspirational. It is a description of you and your work. Keep the focus on what you do, not the new things you hope to do in the future. As much as possible, have your voice come through in the words you choose so readers feel like they learn something meaningful about you as an artist.

  2. Make it readable. Clichés, repetition, lofty words, exaggeration, bragging, and unduly complex sentences and word combinations generally bore or annoy readers. You don’t want anyone to roll their eyes as they read your Artist Statement, wondering how many times you consulted a Thesaurus while writing it. Well-crafted sentences with clear wording paint a more understandable, and more inviting picture of you and your work.

  3. Keep it concise and compelling. Most people will be looking for a quick overview, not a detailed biography. If you are taking the time to write it, you don’t want a reader quit before finishing it. Information in other resources, like your resume, does not need to be repeated in your Artist Statement.

  4. Proofread it carefully. If editing is not your strength, ask for help from someone good at it. Typos and grammar errors will diminish the appearance of professionalism you convey, and are avoidable.

  5. Keep it updated. The passage of time and growth in your art practice may take you in different directions. An old Artist Statement may not reflect the artist you have become, and if that happens, there is a disconnect between it and your art. At least annually, and perhaps more often depending on your art practice, schedule time to review it and make any needed updates. And then, use the updated version on your website, exhibit submissions, and wherever else it is requested.

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