How to write an artist statement

An artist’s statement is as important as an artist’s work. It’s an important part of the application process for art schools, to seek fund for an art project, and to propose an exhibition in an art gallery. I review over 100 artist portfolio websites built on Pixpa every week so I can tell you what the best ones read like. I have found a few common traits that characterize the best artist statements. If you are struggling to write an artist statement, here are some tips you can use. 

Tips on how to write an artist statement

Ideally, an artist statement should be compelling. Like most other compelling texts, it should prompt readers to discover more about an artist. A good artist statement is composed of elements like persuasive copy, lucid readability, and inspiring perspective. I have listed below a few points that can help you to add these elements to your statement.  

 Introduce your art to viewers

An artist statement is a brief introduction to your art. Think of it as your substitute while you are not present to answer questions related to your art. Viewers often have questions about the art they are looking at. An effective artist statement answers those questions while you are not there.

One of the best ways to introduce your art to the viewers is to write about your inspiration behind it. It’s sort of laying the foundation before you begin to explain your art to the viewers. Your inspiration can be a daily phenomenon or a particular incident. Regardless, explain it in as simple words as you can. This accomplishes the major goal of connecting with the viewer. Not doing so leaves a viewer unconnected, especially if it’s an abstract art. Without it, your art is a splash of multitude colors on a canvas with nothing to make of it.

The next important thing to do when you write an artist statement is to explain your art in words. Your art is your perspective, and perceptions are easy to be misunderstood. To ensure that you and the viewer are on the same page add a line or two to explain your art. But, restrain from divulging all the details about your work.  Try to leave a little room for curiosity such that the viewer is bound to further inquire about your art.

Avoid spelling and grammatical mistakes

One of the important purposes that an artist statement serves is to draw the audience into an artwork and lead them to explore your art further. A sloppy artist statement puts a reader off, leaving them with less interest or no interest in art at all. Inconsistency in writing, typos, and spelling errors might turn a viewer away.

You can use tools like Grammarly to avoid petty grammatical mistakes. A well-punctuated, typos-free, artist statement is a joy to read.

Use active voice

Write your artist statement in active voice. It makes the tone more conversational; as if you are speaking to your viewer in person. It establishes an instant connection with the viewer. Use online editing tools like Hemingway app to ensure that your artist statement is written in active voice. 

Keep the artist statement as small as possible

Long biographies drain viewers, especially when they are out to see beautiful art. A lot of fancy words make a statement longer and difficult to comprehend. A verbose statement makes the work appear insecure. Some of the best artist statements that I have read are under 100 words. A rule of thumb that you can follow here is: The shorter the better. Consider this as the most important point in your lessons on how to write an artist statement.  

An effective artist statement is anywhere between 100 words to one- page-long. To bring your statement in this range cut down on technical details and fancy words that you have included in your artist statement. 

Get it proofread

A bad artist statement can be the final nail in the coffin to stop you from getting into your most admired art college or getting a grant. So it’s important that you get your statement proofread. It’s more important when you are applying for a grant/award or pitching a gallery for an exhibition. When you’re done writing your statement have it proofread from peers. I also advise you to have a stranger with no background in arts proofread your statement. Feedback from these people would help you to understand if you have been able to put your points across clearly.

Here’s a small tip: If you write artist statements frequently, consider creating a checklist on how to write an artist statement and put these four points down. It will make your writing process more efficient.

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