How to effectively communicate your artist statementTips for writing & sharing your vision
Regardless of whether you’re working to be exhibited in a gallery or sharing your creative vision in a new conversation, your “statement” and your ability to effectively communicate it is vital to your successes.
The artist statement ventures to explain your ideas, concepts, and motivations in a clear, concise manner. Which can be quite a task. Often times leading to common mistakes, such as relying on generic “art speak” or complex jargon that serves to confuse rather than aid.
The artist statement is your moment of contact. So, let’s look at how to create an effective statement and communicate your voice.
The Elevator Pitch
Readers won’t read through pages of explanation. Keep your statement brief, two decent sized paragraphs should do. Focus on quickly captivating readers with your concept. This is your “elevator pitch”, once you have their attention, you can further explain the depths of your work.
Speak in the present tense. Discuss what you are currently doing, not future goals or past happenings.
Be captivating and remember that your statement is for a wide audience, therefore language should be universal and uncomplicated. As you evolve, the statement should reflect your voice accordingly.
“Keep it short, clear, concise and true to you, and you’re good to go!”
When collecting your thoughts, you may want to consider some of the following questions when writing your artist statement. You don’t need to answer all of these questions, just see where it takes you.
What is your motivation?
Why should people care about your work?
How does your technique communicate your ideas?
What are your influences?
How is your work unique?
What do you want people to take away from your work?
Who is your audience?
I’d also like to suggest that similar questions should apply for those who are creative entrepreneurs.
Once you’ve mulled over the Who, What and How’s? Jot down what comes to mind, using short sentences and phrases here and there. Allow your own speaking voice to come through, then sit down and put everything together as a draft.
When you’re done, take time away from the statement, revisit it later and make adjustments as you see fit. A few things to consider in your statement:
Avoid repetition of words and phrases; Pay attention to the organization of details; Significant ideas should appear at the end of each sentence for emphasis.
The No-Fly Zone
There is nothing worse than a stuffy elitist artist statement that showcases a lost concept buried in shiny words. Here are a few areas to steer clear of when creating your artist statement:
Quotes as a crutch. People often feel the need to lead with a quote by a famous author or artist. The statement should come directly from you, not someone else.
Fluffy language that distracts from your message. There is a fine line between descriptive and fluffy language. Feedback and editing are essential, with such limited space, every word should be used to enhance your core message, not divert from it.
Technical explanations. While your technique can be addressed in the statement, avoid technical explanations of your medium. This isn’t the place for a step-by-step guide, rather a description of how your technique is unique or how it enhances your message.
Generalizations. Generic, vague answers will only result in an artist statement that doesn’t distinguish you in your field. Be as specific as possible when thinking about your art, this is what makes you unique.
Statements by third parties. An artist statement is all about what you think of your work, not what others think of you. If you are thinking of including feedback from a museum director or favorite art critic, don’t. This type of material belongs in your CV, biography, or a section of testimonials.
Obscure references that alienate your audience. These references can often confuse the audience, leading to your message becoming lost. Attempt to rephrase the concept in your own words, without the reference. If you can’t, then reframe your idea in your own words. Don’t force it! If it’s not working, save it for later.
Direct comparison. You may think you paint like Picasso or sing like Lana Del Ray, but it’s best not to draw comparisons to other artists. Not everyone will share that sentiment as you may end up doing more harm than good.
Leading phrases. Your statement should focus on what you feel, allowing others to draw their own conclusions and form opinions.
Never pressure them or attempt to dictate outcomes. Your statement begins the narrative, your viewers take it from there. – “I” statements, not “you” statements.
Not all artists can write well. If you’re in that category, outsource. If you’re friends with a writer, ask them or consider using a professional writer or editor.
Your Facebook page, website, and other social platforms should communicate your voice. Keep it simple, you don’t get much time to engage in the digital space. Don’t miss out on opportunities by over stimulating the inquirers with wordy jargon.
Before you pass go, show your art and statement to friends, friends of friends, and maybe even a stranger or two. Make sure they get it and come away understanding what you want them to understand.
If they don’t get it, or you have to explain yourself, rewrite and eliminate the confusion. If you need help, find someone who writes or edits and have them fix the problem. Often a little rearranging is all that’s necessary to make your statement a clean, clear, concise read.
OPPORTUNITY IS EVERYWHERE
At the end of the day, whatever you’re doing whether a creative start up or seeking to share your creative voice. It’s best to be clear on what you’re creating and what you want to communicate. Spend some time defining your “statement.”
You never know when an opportunity will present itself to you. Know you “elevator pitch” and open a space of inquiry. Don’t wait for galleries, curators or investors, an opportunity is ever present to those who are prepared.
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