Writing an Artist Statement
Every artist should create a “statement.”
The guide will help you get the right formula so that everyone will resonate with your message.
The “artist statement”
But what is an artist statement?
It consists of a series of sentences that describe the work you do and why you create art.
It helps to think of this resource as a stand-in when you can’t describe your art to someone personally.
Your description provides more value to the viewer (or consumer!) interested in your work.
Some people use the artist statement to create a lengthy bio, documentary, or story about how they found their art journey.
This asset is not any of those things.
An artist statement is also not a theory about why your work is better, an adjective string, or an ingredient list for the recipe of your career’s accomplishments.
An artist statement is a straightforward piece that answers how and why.
Why Are Artist Statements Necessary?
If you work as an artist, you’ll get asked to supply a statement when applying for exhibition opportunities, grants, and residencies.
Some educational institutions require a lengthy artist statement as part of the enrollment process.
These statements can be challenging to write because you don’t want to come across as being arrogant or prideful.
You might also be more familiar with a paintbrush than a keyboard, causing difficulties when trying to find the right things to say.
When you have an excellent artist statement available, it should help you understand your practices while looking toward future opportunities.
Once you get the first one finished, it helps to revisit the statement about 2-3 times per year to see if it needs an update.
Best Way to Create Your Artist Statement Today
Sitting down (or standing up) to write a clear and concise artist statement is not easy to do.
You must create compelling descriptions that add value to your work, which means the pressure is on to be successful.
For some people, the best way to begin doesn’t involve writing anything at all.
Here are some steps for you to consider following if you need to write an artist statement soon.
1. Surround yourself with your artwork.
Gather all of your pieces into a single room or on a site you can display on a page online.
Most artists work on individual items without thinking about the overview of what they do.
When you see everything, what are the commonalities that you see?
Do you notice any differences in the pieces that stand out right away?
If you think about your career through a holistic lens, it becomes a little easier to create descriptive words about it.
2. Write out your adjectives.
No – you are not supposed to write a list of adjectives about yourself in an artist statement.
When you enter the creative process, it helps to use tonal and visual descriptions that talk about who you are and what you do.
You’ll want to be as specific as possible for this process.
Since this work is for the average person, your statement should avoid industry jargon whenever possible.
Does your work pursue minimalism?
Do people say it reminds you of the Renaissance?
Have you been told it is messy, quiet, impressionistic, or contemporary?
Once you have the right descriptors, it’ll be a little easier to create the rest of your statement.
3. Talk about your art to someone you trust.
Grab that smartphone of yours for this step.
Open your camera app, switch it to video, and record a conversation you have with a person you trust.
Most artists talk about their work to their family and friends several times per week.
These conversations can provide insights into the artist statements that you’re already creating!
If you have studio visits coming up, you’ll have another way to grab some feedback.
Please remember to get permission from the other people in the video before recording the conversation.
4. What emotions do you hope to convey?
An excellent artist statement puts the emotions of each creation into verbal form.
Although your intent often has little bearing on how someone perceives your work, this information helps the audience connect to you.
Art is ultimately a business.
The best way to start growing is to begin building relationships.
Your artist statement helps you accomplish this goal.
If people can feel like they’ve learned something new from this process, it’ll add value to the artwork they see.
That means you might not get a sale today or tomorrow, but the positive associations created may cause enough word-of-mouth advertising to bring someone your way which is ready to buy.
What do you want people to feel? Is it happiness, or could it be anger?
Do you want people to feel soulful and fulfilled, or should they be lost and disparate?
Once you’ve decided on these feelings, you’ll have an excellent foundation for your eventual artist statement.
5. What questions are you trying to answer?
Instead of telling people about your art, try to show them what you hope to accomplish with your artist statement.
If you’re hoping to get some questions, consider asking them in this text proactively.
This option creates some excellent conversation pieces when you can connect with others.
If you already have a resume on your website, don’t repeat the information you’ve got there.
Try to let your artwork speak for itself through your voice.
6. Write a letter to someone you know.
If all else fails, consider writing a letter to someone about your art.
It could be a best friend, your mom, or even your future self.
It doesn’t need to be a complicated story or complex prose.
Try to describe what happens during your average day.
Are you painting with acrylics?
Did you break out pastels for the first time, and now your studio is extra messy?
It helps to add as many descriptors into this letter as possible so that you get some ideas of what to include in your artist statement.
Fun Examples of Artist Statements Throughout History
When you start reading the artist statements from history, you’ll discover that most of them aren’t long at all.
Most of them are a sentence or two about what the individual hopes to accomplish.
It’s also notable that artists often change their statements as the work evolves.
You’ll find several examples from Pablo Picasso online because he issued different ones for each creative period he entered.
Here are some of the best statements that artists have released over the years if you’re continuing to search for inspiration.
Pablo Picasso Artist Statements
The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.
Our goals can only get reached through a vehicle of a plan, one that we must fervently believe, and upon which we can vigorously act. There is no other route that leads to success.
Art is not the application of a canon of beauty, but what the instinct and the brain conceive beyond it. When we love a woman, we don’t start measuring her limbs.
Everything is a miracle. It is a miracle that one does not dissolve in one’s bath like a lump of sugar.
There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. It is afterward that you can start removing all traces of reality.
“I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them.”
Romero Britto Artist Statements
Art is too important not to share.
I believe that every human being should try to do good for someone else. There are so many different ways to do it. My art can be an instrument for helping people. What a good feeling! That I can do that with my art.
I feel lucky to have been given the gift of creativity so that I may share my vision of a better world. I will never forget what it was like to be poor, and that is why it is so important to me that my work be accessible to everyone. Art reflects the celebration of the good and simple things in life. That is most important to me!
Vincent van Gogh Artist Statements
I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all of my heart.
Love many things, for therein lies the true strength. Whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.
I dream of painting, and then I paint my dream.
If you hear a voice within you say that you cannot paint, then by all means, start painting. That voice will get silenced.
There is no blue without yellow and without orange.
The more that I think about it, the more that I realize that there is nothing more artistic in life than to love others.
Grandma Moses Artist Statements
Life is what we make it. Always has been, always will be.
I paint from the top down. From the sky, then the mountains, then the hills, houses, cattle, and then the people. I look out the window to seek the color of the shadows and the different greens in the trees, but when I get ready to paint, I close my eyes and imagine a scene.
Painting is not important. The important thing is keeping busy.
If you know something well, you can always paint it… but people would be better off buying chickens.
Wassily Kandinsky Artist Statements
I let myself go. I thought little of the trees and houses, but I applied color stripes and spots to the canvas. Within me were the memories of an early evening in Moscow. Before my eyes were the strong, color-saturated scales of Munich light and atmosphere thundering deeply in the shadows.
The deeper the blue becomes, the more strongly it calls man towards the infinite, awakening in him a desire for the pure and, finally, for the supernatural. The brighter it becomes the more it loses its sound, until it turns into silent stillness to become white.
The sound of colors is so definite that it’s hard to find anyone who would express bright yellow with base notes, or a dark lake with the treble.
Every work of art is the child of its age and, in many cases, the mother of our emotions. It follows that each period of culture produces an art of its own which can never be repeated.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir Artist Statements
To my mind, a picture should be something pleasant, cheerful, and pretty – yes, pretty! There are too many unpleasant things in life as it is without creating more of them.
I’ve spent 40 years of working as an artist to discover that the queen of all colors was black.
The work of art must seize upon you, wrap you in itself, and carry you away. It is the means by which the artist conveys his passion. It is the current he puts for which that sweeps you along in his passion.
If you paint the leaf on a tree without using a model, your imagination will only supply you with a few leaves. Nature offers you millions, all of them on the same tree. No two leaves are exactly the same. That’s why the artist who paints only what is in his mind must very soon repeat himself.
Are You Ready to Start Writing Your Artist Statement?
Once you have gone through the above examples of artist statements and the processes that help to create them, it is time to get to work.
Procrastination pretends to be your best friend as an artist, but it is not.
You must take pen to paper or finger to keyboard and start the creative process.
Although an artist statement is not 100% necessary, it is a helpful resource to have available.
Some galleries, exhibition halls, and educational institutions require this information.
If you want to reach your eventual goals, it must get written at some point!