An artist's statement is simply the artist's written description of their own work. It is a verbal representation of the work that the artist does and it is meant to help the viewer glean understanding of it. It aims to inform and connect the viewer with the art. Often gallery owners and teachers will ask for an artist's statement, and it's possible you'll even want to put one up on your website. In any case, you'll most likely need to write one.
Seems easy, right?
Not so much.
Writing an artist's statement can be quite tricky! It can be very difficult to put what you do and why down on paper without it sounding either convoluted or over simplified. In either case, the audience might have trouble understanding the statement.
Example: "The apotropaic quality of the conjoining lines are juxtaposed against the atramentous backdrop in a way such as to give definition to not only the achromatic benevolence of the lines themselves, but to the crepuscular middle ground, with it's lurid, stygian details."
So... how many of you understood that without looking at the dictionary and scratching your heads a few times?!
Your audience (probably) isn't going to be entirely made up of english majors. You want your artist's statement to be easy to understand by the general public - don't make your audience look up ten words in the dictionary just to understand what your work is about!
That being said, you can also make things too simple!
Example: "The non-evil criss crossy lines are stuck up against the black background in a way that brings out the white lines and the greyish area in between, which is evillish looking."
So, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense either. What am I even talking about? And "criss crossy" and "evillish" don't seem horribly professional for that gallery owner that asked for your artist statement, do they?
What it basically boils down to is to keep it somewhere in between. Find a middle ground that doesn't have too many archaic words and 'artist lingo,' but which also explains what you're trying to say in a cohesive manner.
Beyond the language itself, you may be wondering... what should the content of your artist's statement be? The answer is fairly simple. It should briefly and clearly state the following:
1. Why do you make your art?
2. What inspires you to make it?
3. What is special about the way you make it?
4. What does it mean to you?
Your statement should hook people, make them want to know more about your art - don't overload the reader with unnecessary information.
Your statement might include a bit about what your work used to be and what it is now, your interests and process, etc. Talk about the medium you work in, and how what you express with your art is connected to that medium.
In your statement you should talk about yourself. Don't tell your audience what to experience when they interact with your work, instead, tell them what you experience. Don't pressure them to agree with you.
Try to be specific. Talk about what inspires you and tell us specifically which things, or why. Talk about a few pieces of your work which you think really express the things you work towards with your art.
Keep it brief. A few paragraphs of three sentences each.
By the time your audience is done reading your artist's statement, they should be able to have an idea of what your work might look like without even seeing it.
If this all seems too hard, go ask your writing guru friends to give you a hand! Getting feedback is important in everything, particularly writing. Have your friends, peers, family, etc. read it over and tell you what they think. If you're still stuck, go talk to someone about what you're having trouble explaining. Tell them face to face about your art, why you make it... write down what you're saying as you talk! You might come up with something that you were previously having trouble putting to words.
Hope this helps! Happy writing!