How To Write An Artist Statement: Tips From The Art Experts


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As a professional artist, you need to have more than your work to get around in the art world. Along with your portfolio, you should have an artist statement available at a moment’s notice. An artist statement should be considered just as important as your works.

LATAM artist statement
Artist posing next to her works before an opening reception at Agora Gallery

WHY DO YOU NEED AN ARTIST STATEMENT?

An artist statement is most often the front line of communication between an artist and the public. It will be used when you submit your portfolio to competitions, galleries, and museums. It may sometimes be displayed when people are viewing your works in person or on your website. If it’s online, your artist statement will be read by people from all over the world.

Useful Article: How To Create A Professional Portfolio

There are many paths to becoming an artist, through school or an apprenticeship, or through inspiration and self-teaching but no matter how you got there, being a professional artist means that you have to have an artist statement. If you have never written a statement before, or aren’t sure that your current statement is up to art world standards, it can be a quite daunting task to compose one.

Luckily, Agora Experts are here to help. Compiling years of experience in the art world, they are more than happy to share what they’ve learned.

Here are some valuable tips for writing an artist’s statement:

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

Agora artist Tammy Phillips during the opening reception at the gallery
Agora artist Tammy Phillips during the opening reception at the gallery

Remember, as an artist you are not only writing to an art gallery, but also to visitors, students, and potential buyers. You want all of these different groups to be able to understand what you’re saying about yourself and your art. You aren’t always going to be standing next to a patron to explain everything to them, so you have to make sure that your statement communicates all your ideas to any viewer.

CONTENT FOR YOUR ARTIST STATEMENT

Between 150-200 words (two paragraphs) is the best length for a statement that is going to be published. It is long enough to let a viewer learn more about you and your work, but not too long that they can’t follow your story and get distracted.

What information does an artist’s statement need to include? There are three elements to consider: the “how,” the “what,” and the “why.” There should be enough information in your artist statement that someone can begin to imagine the art that you make without having it in front of them.

Artist Statement Content

The “How”

The ‘How’ refers to how you created your works. Many visitors are interested in knowing about your artistic process. Describe your works; what colors do you use, do you make large marks or small marks, or do you use blending so there are no visible marks at all? If you’re a photographer, what kind of tools are integral to your process?

The “What”

Are your paintings abstract? Portraits? Do you take photos of landscapes? What is your imagery? When people describe what you make, what do they say? Describe the content of your works in a general way to flow from how you work to what you make.

The “Why”

Why do you make what you make? What does your life say about your work and your work say about your life? What symbols do you use and why? Explain the influences behind the meanings of your works.

You don’t have to have the same amount of each type of information, but it is a good idea to have part of your statement devoted to each of these categories. However, if one category seems far more relevant to your work than the others, feel free to emphasize it in your statement. You can put as much or as little of each category as you like; if your works are about the medium then you can focus more on how you make your works and if it is more about the “why” and your inspiration, focus on that. Balance your content in any way you need to.

Write down the answers to these questions on your own and then cut them down do the absolute essentials.

Once you have your content, then you can move to style.

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STYLE: THE THREE C’S OF STYLE

Artist Statement Style

Every artist statement must follow the three C’s of style: they should be clear, concise, and consistent.

Be clear

Use accessible vocabulary; keep in mind that your readers may not be scholars, artists, or art historians. Write like you’re speaking to a person on the street, somebody who goes to museums “every now and then,” as many of your viewers will fall into that category. Make sure the content in your artist statement is not too complex or technical. This will intimidate your audience.

Be concise

Don’t go on for pages and pages about your work. Even the most interested person will get lost in too much information. You want your statement to pull the viewer in, but you don’t want to bore them.

The average museum and gallery visitor spends 5 to 15 seconds looking at each artwork, according to numerous museum surveys. You want your statement to be brief enough that they can get the essential information in that time, and that their flow isn’t too disrupted when they stop to read the statement in full.

Be consistent

Make sure that what you say in your artist’s statement matches the works that are going to be on display. If you also have a press release or biography available, make sure that your statement doesn’t contradict these texts at all. Keep updating your artist statement as you grow and evolve as an artist.

REMINDER: An artist statement MUST be in the first person, everything is “I” not “he/she/they.” Imagine your statement is having a conversation with a viewer, it is speaking for you, and you would always say “I did this.”

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Write out your statement a few different ways and think about which one best describes you and your work. Read your statement out loud to make sure it flows properly. Read it to people familiar with you and your work and listen to their comments.

If you are represented by a gallery, or if you have an agent, see if they are available to help you with your statements. Agora Gallery, for example, often helps artists edit their statements. If you don’t feel like you’re the best writer, have someone help you correct your grammar and make sure the artist statement says what you want it to say.

REMINDER: If you are sending your statement somewhere with a word requirement (usually between 150-200 words) take their advice and write at least that much. Whatever word count they give you is likely the minimum for certain publications, and you don’t want to be left out because you didn’t provide enough text. Many organizations have similar requirements, so you don’t want to have to re-work your statement every time you send it somewhere new.

TIPS FOR NON-ENGLISH SPEAKERS

Write your statement in your native language first, and then translate it. You can use a professional translator, or you can try to translate it with an application online. Just be sure that you have it double checked by a native speaker of whatever language your statement will be published in before you submit. Don’t try to limit yourself to your foreign language vocabulary. Do your very best to compose something for yourself.

REMINDER: Do not submit a statement with too little information or no statement at all. If a gallery or competition asks for a statement, be sure to provide one. If there is a suggested word count, meet it. You don’t want someone to misunderstand your process or your work by writing more into your statement just to reach a word requirement for publication. Your statement should be personal to you and your work and not according to someone else’s thoughts, especially since a statement is something that will usually be seen by anyone who looks at your artwork. You want to be able to communicate with viewers in your own words.

PRESENTATION: FONT, PAPER, DESIGN

Once you have your statement ready to go, you need to prepare it for submission. You may submit to a gallery, a contest, a local collective; it doesn’t matter, they all will need your statement, and you want your statement to do its job. Whether it’s a paper submission, or online, here are some tips for making sure your statement makes it to the correct people.

Most submissions to galleries these days are online, like ours, which makes worrying about how your statement looks a no-brainer. The online forms will take care of that for you. If you have the information there, then that’s all you’ll need.

If you are submitting a printed statement, here are some tips for making it up to the art world standards:

KEEP YOUR ARTIST STATEMENT CLEAN

Make sure your paper is clean, crisp, and classic. You want to look and have your materials look as professional as possible. You are essentially engaging in a business when you submit your work to a gallery and you want to present yourself the same way.

Plain printer paper or basic letterhead is the best way to make a professional impression. You don’t need fancy paper, paper you made by hand, or special design paper to submit your statement. It may seem eye-catching at first, but in reality most fancy paper designs are distracting from any important content. If it looks like a party invitation, chances are no gallery will take it seriously. If you want to go the extra mile and use nice stationery, do not go for something with an elaborate design. A thick card stock can be nice, but keep the paper white or off-white so that it is not too distracting from the content.

How-To-Write-Artist-Statement

KEEP YOUR ARTIST STATEMENT READABLE

The same rule applies to fonts. Make sure your font is clear and able to be read easily. You can never go wrong with basic fonts like Arial or Times New Roman. Fancy fonts can take away from your content. It doesn’t matter if the font matches what you think your art feels like: if a gallery owner or buyer can’t read it, then it hurts more than it helps. You want the communication to be as easy as possible between you and your audience, so make sure that your statement is readable.

Along the same lines, do NOT handwrite your statement. Very few galleries will even read a handwritten statement as it is unprofessional. It’s also a lot of work to handwrite an artist statement, and if you’re submitting to multiple galleries, writing out all those statements is a waste of your time. It’s easiest to type it out.

If you don’t have regular access to a computer or a word processing program, you can always work on your statement online and pay a few cents to have it printed at your local copy center.

artist-statement

 

AFTER YOUR SUBMISSION

For now, you’ve done all you can. It is now in the hands of the gallery manager, collector or client that you’ve presented it to.

As you grow and evolve as an artist, you’ll want to revisit these steps as you revise your artist statement to reflect your current work. Remember, your brilliant work only does half the job. Your professionalism and other important things like your artist statement, CV and business cards make up the other half.

Useful Articles: The Artist CV and Artist Business Cards

 

As a promotional gallery, we take pride in the diverse group of artists from across the globe represented by us. Want to give your art more time, and leave the marketing and promotional hassles to someone else? Book an online career development consultation meeting today.

Join the discussion! Do let us know if you have any other suggestions about writing the perfect artist statement. You can also ask your questions in the comments or email us at blogs@agora-gallery.com!


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70 responses to “How To Write An Artist Statement: Tips From The Art Experts”

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  2. Signeagles avatar

    Excellent Tips! Thanks for sharing it…

  3. Majortotosite Top avatar

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  4. casinositeone.JDS avatar

    Thank you so much for your great information, It is too useful for me. Thanks again!

  5. Stanford Brians avatar

    I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Well written!

  6. Lina avatar
  7. Shayariforall avatar

    I found this site a little while ago, I´m from Perú, I´m an sculptor and I am learning a lot from your tips and suggestions. There is plenty info to read and learn from. This is a great site! Thank you so much.

  8. Maria Rodriguez avatar

    I am a Mexican artist. Thank you for sharing these tips to write an artist statement. It’s very easy and helpful.

  9. Kabza De Small avatar

    I have struggled with this as an artist but this article is quite an eye opener. Thanks for sharing this, it is quite helpful to me.

  10. Robin de Bernochi avatar

    Hola, soy un Acuarelista emergente, y una plataforma artística me ha pedido un Statement artístico , preparé uno pero no estoy seguro de haberlo escrito bién. Puedo enviarlo y Uds me dicen si está bien ?? Muchas Gracias ¡¡¡

    1. Andra Bilici avatar

      Hi Robin,

      Our services are limited to our represented artists, but we’re sure that our community of readers can offer you their advice so feel welcome to share it in the comments below.

  11. Christiane Fortin avatar

    Thank you this article is truly helpful.

  12. Homepage avatar

    really helpful!

  13. J.Ring Kim avatar

    As a artist, I read all article w/ this title so easily understand and organizations in my mind.

  14. Hironyphos avatar

    This is what sicken me with visual art. Visual art should be about visual art. Your art should talk from it self. You shouldn’t need to say nor write at all.

    That being said for what modern art is this article is very well made and insightfull.Well done!

  15. vpn free avatar

    this was an amazing read, thanks for providing this such great article.

  16. Sophia avatar

    That’s an interesting article with really cool suggestions. Thanks a lot for sharing

  17. Nwachukwu Onuorah avatar

    I am an artist based in Nigeria you website and tutorials has been very helpful, thank you.

  18. amanda avatar

    The world of art is really awesome…My father is a great artist and i loved his drawings very much…Thanks for taking the time to discuss this..

  19. Tim avatar

    Your brilliant work only does half the job. Your professionalism and other important things like your artist statement, CV and business cards make up the other half.

  20. Kathy avatar

    Thank you for your article.
    When making a submission without a bio, should you sign the Artist Statement?

    1. Andra Bilici avatar

      Hi Kathy,

      You should sign your artist statement so that anyone who reads it or sees it separately from all your other documents or artworks, will know to whom it belongs.

  21. Lisa avatar

    Thanks for such an amazing explanation. As a reader and a viewer, I like to know what artist think about his/her work. So such explanations in written form help me to understand better their work and they gives me a feeling of being involved in art at least somehow.

  22. John avatar

    Thanks for the article. But I still can not understand why I have to write an artist statement? It’s stupid. If I wanted to write to express myself I would have been a writer. The whole idea of ​​my art is to say things visually. Why can not people just look at my art and take away any experiences they will?

    1. Daisy O Connell avatar

      Hi John,

      Generally the artist statement usually gives the viewer a bit of context with regards to the art.

      1. Sara Woodruff avatar

        Yeah, good luck with that!

  23. Walton avatar

    Thanks. I’ve found some very useful tips for myself.

  24. OrapistaK&K avatar

    I just thought about it today.

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  26. Ugonma Chibuzo avatar

    Very helpful, thanks

  27. Dennis Vigo avatar

    I found this site a little while ago, I´m from Perú, I´m an sculptor and I am learning a lot from your tips and suggestions. There is plenty info to read and learn from. This is a great site! Thank you so much.

  28. Dennis Vigo avatar

    I found this site a little while ago, I´m from Perú, I´m an sculptor and I am learning a lot from your tips and suggestions. There is plenty info to read and learn from. This is a great site! Thank you so much.

    1. Rita Job avatar

      Thank you, Dennis! Feel free to let us know if you’d like us to cover a specific topic.

  29. Shayne M McClain avatar

    .This was e extremely helpful. Thank You

  30. Viginia Luther avatar

    Thanks

  31. Keith Demanche avatar

    What a great site! Thanks for all the detailed, useful info here. Super helpful.

  32. Writology avatar

    Hei! A great peace of article! Got me inspired to look for different ways to express myself and trust my inner inspiration indeed. Thanks a lot!

  33. Arpan Shukla avatar

    Thanks For Providing good and usable information in your brief article.Will definitely a good guideline for everyone in the field of Art and paintings

  34. Em avatar

    helpful!!

  35. Solange Thenoux Z avatar

    Congratulation, all this tips are very helpful for presentation of artist, I will give this for other artist that belong to a Chilean Visual Women Artist MUART organization that I belong , Thanks.

    1. Agora Experts avatar

      Dear Solange, thank you for visiting!

  36. Solange Thenoux Z avatar

    Congratulation, all this tips are very helpful for artist. Thank you.

  37. LW Liu avatar

    Thank you so much! This website was just what I needed to help me write my first reasonable Artist’s Statement. I’d been at a loss as how to start, or what exactly to write.

    1. Agora Experts avatar

      Dear LW, you are very welcome, thanks for stopping by!

  38. vincent avatar

    I’m struggling with mine a bit and have been told many times to write an artist statement in the third person rather than first person. Is there validity to that?

    1. Agora Experts avatar

      Dear Vincent, as we state in the article, the statement MUST be in the first person. Your artist statement is your conversation with your audience, an introduction of yourself, and it can not be in the third person.

    2. Amy Dapice avatar

      Vincent, I agree that the statement needs to be in first person, but it may be helpful to write the first draft in third person. That exercise may very well free you up to be more objective. Then you can switch it back. Just a thought.

  39. Lisa Kay avatar

    This article has been a great help to me.
    On question though; I see artist’s bio’s and their statements on the same page, When I present this information to a gallery, should I put them on the same page or on separate sheets of paper?

    1. Agora Experts avatar

      Hi Lisa, we recommend that you keep your bio separate from the artist statement. It’s a very important part of your professional portfolio and we’ve written a separate advice article on writing an artist biography. Take a look at these articles, they will prove very useful if you’re working on a portfolio.
      How to Create a Professional Portfolio and Writing an Artist Biography.
      Let us know how it goes!

  40. Anthony avatar

    This is of great help to me as I have never written an artist statement. All I have been doing is draw what I can in my attempt to improve. But this would change things. thanks for the help.

    1. Agora Experts avatar

      Dear Anthony, you’re more than welcome!

  41. kaykay avatar

    great website!!! I love it<3

  42. Amalya Nane Tumanian avatar

    Clearly articulated advice. Very helpful! Thank you!
    I like your website. One always can find many very interesting articles.

  43. TJ avatar

    I’m trying help my 11 year old daughter write an artist statement for a school art project that is going to be submitted to a contest. I’m at a total loss. This all sounds good, but for an 11 year old, the How, What and Why questions are pretty abstract. I need help! “I chose the color purple because it’s my favorite color” is probably not the kind of thing that the teacher is looking for.

    1. Agora Experts avatar

      Hi TJ, it’s important to mold the content of the artist statement to your needs and situation. Talk with your daughter, listen to what she has to say about why and how she creates what she does, and together you’ll be able to come up with a wonderful artist statement.

  44. Gila Joy Pascale avatar

    Very good advice. I was told to re-write my artist statement and didn’t exactly know what to implement other than what I had done before. Your article gave me the clarity I needed. Thank you!!

    1. Agora Experts avatar

      Dear Gila, we’re happy to help!

  45. Danuta avatar

    Great post, indeed. I have been looking for an info that would help me create my new art portfolio much better than the old one. However, I have a doubt about one thing. I mean about HOW? WHAT? and WHY? It seems to me strange to start a talk about my art with someone with HOW? The more natural way for me is to talk first about WHAT I do, then WHY I do that and HOW is the last point. My question is if that changed order I have proposed is equally acceptable?

    1. Agora Experts avatar

      Dear Danuta, this is a great question. As we mention in the article, you should balance the content of your artist statement in any way you need to. After all, this is YOUR artist statement. If you feel that you need to talk about the WHAT first, then this is what you should do, especially if it feels more natural to you.

  46. Clemente Flores avatar

    Great article…just what I needed to know…thank you.

  47. Viktoria Georgieva MOUSE avatar

    great article!!!

  48. serah chibombwe avatar

    i so needed this right now. thanx. this will help me a lot.

  49. Bharath Pasupuleti avatar

    Beautiful article. Very helpful. Can you please provide a couple of example writeups?

  50. bonnie alabiso avatar

    Thanks. This was helpful. I appreciate your time spent finding and posting this for the class. You are a good guy. Kisses, ba

  51. Fel Plata avatar

    Thanks, this is helpful.

  52. Jackie Brigham avatar

    Your comments are right on and remind me that from time to time I need to evaluate my statements. Thanks

    1. AgoraExperts avatar

      You’re welcome, Jackie. We’re glad we could help!

    2. Jeff Dunham avatar

      ?