How to Write an Artist Statement and Sell Your Art
Are you selling original artwork on Etsy, Amazon Handmade, or eBay? Maybe you’re a photographer selling your photos online? Or perhaps you’re about to display your sculptures in a gallery? Whatever your creative output may be, if you’re an artist and have created a body of work, it’s important that you know how to write an artist statement.
The main objective of an artist statement is to introduce your audience to your creation(s) and give them a better understanding of what your work is trying to convey.
In this article, we’ll explore more about what an artist statement is, the different types of artist statements, and the secret behind how to write a good statement.
What Is an Artist Statement?
Primarily used in the contemporary art world, an artist statement — sometimes called artist’s statement — provides people with insight into the inspiration and reason behind an artist’s work. It’s a description of your work, detailing your creative process, and has the potential to set you apart from fellow artists.
Your artist statement will place, or attempt to place, your work in relation to art history and theory as well as the art world today. It shows that you’ve been deliberate in your creative process, and that you’re acutely aware of what you’re doing.
Why You Should Write an Artist Statement
The most important reason you should write an artist statement is that it informs your viewer about the basis of your work and the reason why you created it.
This statement connects your current work with any previous work, so that even those who have come across your creations for the first time have a basic overview of who you are as an artist.
Knowing how to write an artist statement is useful when you’re selling your work online — people love a good story and enjoy getting to know the artist behind the creation. When a potential buyer knows more about you and your craft, it’s likely to generate more interest.
Other reasons for writing an artist statement include:
- Many applications for art schools, awards, grants, or fellowships will require an artist statement.
- If you’re holding an exhibition (or planning to), it can help in the proposal process and provide gallery dealers and curators — and ultimately, the viewing public — with a description of your work in your own words.
- It’ll come in handy to provide background information for bloggers, journalists, or anybody writing about your or your work.
Types of Artist Statements
You might think an artist statement is a simple press release-style piece of writing, but that’s not always the case.
While there are different types of artist statements, one thing should remain the same: write in the first person.
Why? This keeps the point of view personal. As such, employ the use of “I,” “me,” and “myself” in your language. An artist statement written in the first person conveys a warmer tone and brings you much closer to the reader than one written in the third person.
Here are a few types of artist statements for you to consider writing:
Generic Artist Statement
This is your “elevator pitch,” so to speak. It doesn’t have to be terribly long. Include a brief introduction of yourself as an artist and the type of work you create, including your preferred medium such as paint, clay, watercolor, etc.
A generic artist statement is what you’d usually use on your portfolio website or for general applications to a course or school.
A one-page statement is an extension of a generic artist statement that spans one page. This is where you can go into further detail about your journey and history as an artist, the methods you’ve used, your influences, and the goals for your work.
You may also include examples of your current work or project. It’s likely that you’ll use a one-page artist statement when planning to hold an exhibition or even in the “About Me” section of your website.
Project-Specific Artist Statement
If you’re working on a specific body of work or have an upcoming show, it’s a good idea to write a project-specific artist statement, since your inspiration and goals for different projects can vary.
The aim of a project-specific statement is to provide more detailed information that helps others easily connect with that particular artwork. This type of artist statement could mention why you chose one medium over another for the project and what this particular piece or collection means to you.
While a bio is not an artist statement per se, it’s probably something that you’ll need to write at some point in your career. A bio will include a bit of background information on you and your previous experiences, as well as a list of some of your major accomplishments. Bear in mind that unlike an artist statement, a bio should be written in the third person.
How to Write an Artist Statement
Writing a good artist statement can sometimes feel as difficult as creating a piece of art. But don’t stress — we’re here to help. These guidelines will ensure you know how to write an artist statement from the heart that will impress others and connect them to your work.
Set the Foundation
Before you even put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), take some time to truly consider why you’re an artist. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- What drives you to create art?
- What are you trying to achieve with your art?
- What sets your art apart from everyone else?
- Are there any examples of artists you admire?
- What and who inspires you?
- What are the most frequently asked questions people have about your art?
You don’t necessarily have to include the answers to all of these questions in your artist statement, but it’s likely you’ll discover what to include if you take the time to consider them and get to the root of your artistic endeavors.
Free Your Thoughts
Embark on a freewriting exercise for 10 to 15 minutes while considering your art, writing down whatever comes to mind. This no-holds-barred writing exercise will help liberate your thoughts and possibly provide some wonderful content to use in your artist’s statement. You could also try to do a mind map, linking any secondary ideas that originate from the core of what you think your art is.
Know Your Audience
Who will be reading your artist statement and what kind of background information and influences do they have? Are they academics familiar with the art world? Will they be general members of the public without in-depth knowledge of your subject matter or familiarity with art jargon? Where will your statement be used?
You should always consider the context before writing an artist statement, adjusting it slightly to suit the audience and situation. Of course, no matter who your audience is, you should always employ good grammar and clear sentence structure so you don’t turn off your readers with bad writing.
Explain Your Art
This is probably the most important part of how to write an artist statement since it’s meant to give your readers a deeper understanding of your work. To explain your work, you can answer the following questions:
- How did you create your art?
- What tool or technique did you use?
- How did you achieve the final product?
- What is your art saying to viewers?
- What was the inspiration behind your work?
Other Things to Keep in Mind
There are a few other things you should consider when writing an artist statement:
- Save older versions of your artist statement as you may want to refer to them at some point in the future. These older iterations will also give you insight into your own artistic journey.
- Your artist statement is not your art, so ditch any fancy fonts or formatting.
- Make sure your artist statement is single-spaced, no longer than one page, and with font no smaller than 10 or 12 point, to help with legibility.
- Avoid cliches as they can give the impression that you haven’t given your art or artist statement much thought or time.
Anchor Your Art With Your Artist Statement
While you may not consider yourself a writer, it’s just as important to spend time crafting your artist statement as it is creating your art.
An artist statement anchors your art, and it adds depth and context to your creation. Knowing how to write an artist statement will also help build the connection between you, your art, and all those who come into contact with it.