This article is part of a series of Hints and Tips to help you apply for the StateoftheART Gallery Award 2019. The Award is an online platform and accessible opportunity that allows artist submissions to be made using a mobile phone, and the application is completely free of charge.
An artist statement is a short introduction to your art and your creative world. You probably have a pretty good idea about what your artworks portray and convey, but sadly, it is not always so easy for everyone else to know. A statement should act as an introduction to your practice as a whole, highlighting the common threads of ideas, motivations and process running through your work. A statement should give the reader a better understanding of where your practice and interests come from, influences on you or your work, and support them in interpreting what you do. Your artist's statement should help potential buyers or viewers to understand what you believe to be the most important aspects of your work and the techniques you use to make it. Take into account the general picture of what you have done and where you see it going in future. The statement should be clear and short enough to convey your ideas. Do not generalise. Avoid academic language and jargon. Use a small number of direct, descriptive words to be specific about what you want to say.
Your statement should be in the first person (eg. “I am a sculptor that works in bronze”). It should generally be in the present tense (eg. “I am”, not “I was”).
For entry into the StateoftheART Gallery Award
you also need to demonstrate how your artwork corresponds to the theme. Read more about the 2019 theme here.
Here are some things to think about when writing your Artist Statement:
Keep your Artist statement clear, concise, and consistent. Make sure the wording is not too complex or technical. You want your statement to pull the viewer in, but be brief enough that they can get the essential information quickly.
Make sure that what you say in your artist’s statement matches the artworks your are displaying and use words that suit the art you create.
To get the ideas flowing, brainstorm, mind map and use free writing to get all your ideas out onto paper, disregarding things like grammar and style and then edit and refine it later.
Use spell check!
Start by answering these questions:
1. What am I doing? Aka what am I making, what does it look like? and how do I differ from other artists?
2. Why do I make the art I make? Simply, what is your motivation behind creating the art you do? Do you wish to change or affect something with your art?
3. Who do I make art for? This can be a tough one, avoid saying everybody, you’re much better off picking a type of person. If you make art for yourself, you need to be really careful with
4. What is most important about my art right now? It is common for artists to explore many themes throughout their career. But you should not try to put all of the themes into one statement. Focus on your current work and only mention “Old” work if it is relevant to your current work.
“When you break the process of writing an artist statement into small steps—brainstorming, free writing, and editing—the task becomes less daunting.”
“Gather your art in one digital or physical space and really look at it. It’s possible you’ve been working on such a micro level you haven’t taken a macro view in a while. What commonalities and differences do you see? Think holistically about a specific body of art.
Write out a list of adjectives that describe your work. Use both visual and tonal descriptors. Be specific and avoid art jargon. If your art follows in the footsteps of minimalism, could you describe it as quiet? Or rhythmic? Is your work funny, raunchy, messy?
Think about the emotions and reactions you want your audience to come away with. An artist’s intent may have little bearing on an audience’s interpretation, but an artist statement is one of the few places you get to nudge that audience towards your desired result. Do they learn something from your art or make new connections between disparate subjects? Are you trying to make people feel agitated, joyful, incensed?”