Friday, 4 September 2009

Making a Statement

How do you start to write an Artist's Statement? What should it include? What shouldn't it include? The artist’s statement is subjective and, in this post, we will not be telling you YOU ARE WRONG – instead we will give you OUR perspective on the subject and help you to write a compelling and interesting statement.

We have hosted a lot of fabulous shows over the past ten years at Keighley Arts Factory and every artist has submitted a statement to accompany their art. We have read statements that tell us about techniques, inspiration, concepts, study and, occasionally, stuff we just didn't understand.

Why do you need to write an artist’s statement?
"I am an artist, not an author – my art is visual and should speak for itself. Why can’t people take away their own experience?"

Well, I sort of agree with this - art should speak for itself but there are other reasons for the Artist's Statement.

Your statement is a vital selling tool, use it to promote yourself as an artist to buyers, curators, critics and fellow artists.

Here is an example of an artist's statement.
"My work is
created to depict a sense of self and how we perceive space. We are able to project and construct space within our own experience and knowledge. I create environments that take the viewer on a journey and makes that person redfine their preconceptions of spatial dynamism. The viewer is encouraged to interact with the work via their navigation of the space and the juxtaposition of other viewers around them. Creating my work is an intense process that, through its construct, takes me to another artistic plane and helps to redfine the meaning of space. I challenge the viewer to decide whether the transfomration is real or illusionary -my work is a mere suggestion that grows organically".

What kind of art does this artist make?*
What are his/her influences?
How much did you learn about the processes of making art?
Does this statement make you want to see the art?

*If you want to know what the art is, send me a message using the contact box below and I will respond.

So, what would you like to put in your Artist's Statement? Here's a couple of short exercises that will "limber you up" before you embark on writing your actual statement.

Find a fellow artist or like-minded person to work with and take a few minutes describing your art to them. Whilst you are describing ask that person to jot down the "key" or important words you have used. After a short time reverse the process and ask your partner to describe his/her work to you. When you have finished this exercise ask your partner to describe, in his/her own words, what you do. Now do the same for that person.

Did your partner have a clear idea of what your work is about?

Did they decribe something about your art that surprised you?

Did you discover anything new about yourslef or your art whilst you were describing it?

Here's another short exercise for you to try.

On a piece of paper write one short sentence in response to the following questions:

What is your favourite tool and why?
What is your favourite material and why?
What do you like best about what you do?
What do you mean when you say that your work has turned out well?
How does it make you feel when it goes well?
Do you use colour in your work? If so, what is your favourite colour and why?
What do you do differently from the way you were taught?
What do you want people to see/think/feel when they view your work?

Hopefully you now have enough basic information about your work and your creative process to start to write your statement. Before you do here are some tips about the actual writing.

  • Write in the present tense.

  • Say nice things about your work.

  • Include a quote or two - either ones that are relevant to your work or nice things people have said about you.

  • Watch out for paragraphs and sentences. The average paragraph should be five sentences or more and you should have a minimum of 3 paragraphs. It is tiring for the reader to plough through one long unbroken statement or to read one-sentence paragraphs.

  • first person or thrid person? There's a bit of a debate about this. It's about friendliness versus formality. I prefer to write in the first person as I feel a bit pretentious writing about myself in the third person but it's all a matter of taste.

Do you know what you want to say but are having trouble organising it all on the page?

It will be easier if you write three paragraphs in the following order.

Paragraph 1 About your work, your goals, your aspirations.

Paragraph 2 How you make your art, materials, tools, way of working.

Paragraph3 How your work has evolved and what you are working on at the moment or how you see your work developing.

Read you statement back to yourself. How does it scan?

When you have finely tuned your statement find someone to read it to. Ideally it should be someone who has never seen your art so that they can answer those questions that are at the top of this post.

And, by the way, Here are some of my pet-hate words:

juxtaposition, fragmentation, redefinition, encountering, interaction, durational, amalgamation, transformation

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