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Writing An Artist's Statement

Thu Mar 27, 2014, 4:03 PM
Community Week


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?!
Exactly.
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!


Hope this is informative and that you enjoy! :)

To readers: I'm SO sorry that this is late. I logged in today at 7PM to see that for some reason this had a big error message that said for an unknown reason the scheduled submission didn't work. D: I am submitting it now, super super late - my apologies!
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:iconworldwar-tori:
WorldWar-Tori Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014   General Artist
:clap: fantastic article!
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:iconaryiea:
Aryiea Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014
Thank you! :D
Reply
:iconworldwar-tori:
WorldWar-Tori Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014   General Artist
My pleasure :heart:
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:iconroadzero:
RoadZero Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I was okay with the second example :dummy:
Reply
:iconaryiea:
Aryiea Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014
Giggle 
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:iconichigomurasaki:
IchigoMurasaki Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You know what? I've never asked myself to answer those questions about me drawing art before. I just originally did art just for my favorite Hobby but, now that I do comics I have a passion for it. I guess I ought to write those questions down and answer them myself later...
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:iconaryiea:
Aryiea Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2014
Awesome~! :D I hope it helps you understand yourself better, then haha!
Reply
:iconganjamira:
Ganjamira Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
:clap:
Mine are....mostly not that good, but I try always to list up what materials and rough techniques I used and how I relate to the piece...(so what inspires me, if I like the outcome or not, ect...)
This really gives some new perspectives!
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:iconaryiea:
Aryiea Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2014
Glad you liked it :D
I wrote it thinking more like, a professional statement for a gallery show or an exhibition or something xD So I feel like maybe there was some confusion that I didn't state that too well - BUT I think it really does apply to deviantART's artist's comments, which I really never thought of when I was writing this xD It's honestly pretty cool that it works so well for both :3 I hope it gives people a hand too haha.
I think what you do is pretty good! I enjoy reading what people have to say about their art, particularly materials, how they feel about it, etc. Usually I prefer when people have a big artist's comment to a small or nonexistant one xD
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:iconchivi-chivik:
Chivi-chivik Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No correct example? :(
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:iconaryiea:
Aryiea Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2014
:o My reasoning for not including a "correct" example is because I feel like I really can't tell *you* exactly what is going to be correct for your own statement. :3 I can easily tell you what is definitely not going to work, and I can give pointers, but I feel like your artist's statement needs to be unique to you and showcase your personality (as best it can without totally confusing people in some way or another.)
If you ever want some tips on whether I think your artist's statement is good & cohesive I will gladly take a look at it and give you feedback! :la:
Also, if you like, you can read my artist's statement here: fav.me/d78a9yu which may give you some ideas. :hug:
Reply
:iconchivi-chivik:
Chivi-chivik Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Now I understand. Thanks :meow:
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:iconaryiea:
Aryiea Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2014
You're welcome! :D
Reply
:icondailybreadcafe:
DailyBreadCafe Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2014   Writer
Yay! This applies to literature too, to be honest. I don't really comment on things if there's nothing in the comments box.
Reply
:iconaryiea:
Aryiea Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2014
I'm really glad you liked it! It definitely does apply to literature as well, if you're reading it in regards to like, the comment box on deviantart xD When I wrote it I was thinking more of like, a professional artist's statement that you would need to write when entering an exhibition or something, but I realized now that perhaps that wasn't all too clear rofl.
Either way, I think it really does give a lot of good information on how to write more interesting artist's comments as well - I particularly like when artist's will give a bit of information on what they were thinking when they were making their pieces, what materials they used (if it's like, a craft or piece of fine art), etc. For literature I think the same rule applies! I like to hear a bit about why it was written, what the writer was thinking about when they wrote it, etc. I'm not really super great with words, nor do a write a lot, but I enjoy reading other people's writing & I like to know more about it when I do. :) (I always look up about authors and such after I read a book that I really loved, haha!)
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:icondailybreadcafe:
DailyBreadCafe Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014   Writer
Ahh, i see, i can see how you meant it like that, but i just assumed it was about dA because it's on dA haha. 

Yeah, i like to know how authors have come up with their ideas. Or how they came up with a character etc, i always find that most interesting tbh. Haha, i'm the same. If i read a book and i'm enjoying it, sometimes i actually stop so that i can google the author. It's always a shock when i thought the author was male/female old/young and i turn out to be wrong. I find myself looking at everything in a complete different way xD 
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:iconaryiea:
Aryiea Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014
Yeah I realized that later xD Oh well! It works both ways Glomp! 

Yes! I do the exact same thing :giggle: Knowing more about the person who makes the work (writing, crafting, whatever) always makes it more interesting for me! Maybe that's why I loved all of my art history classes so much :la:
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:iconelynenoir:
ElyneNoir Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
That's a great article :)
I don't write the longest artist comments, when the photo i uploaded was more or less a snapshot i sometimes just write one sentence.
Nevertheless i even tend to not leave a comment on a deviation i fave when i see the artist left the artist-comment section empty. If the artist himself doesn't have anything to say about this, why should i? :shrug:
Reply
:iconaryiea:
Aryiea Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2014
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it!
When I wrote this I was actually sort of thinking about more of a professional artist's statement like, for what you use when you enter an exhibition, etc. xD (Here's mine: fav.me/d78a9yu ) But after a lot of comments I realize I may not have explained that too well LOL
In any case, I read through it again and I do think nearly all of the information here could apply to the artist's comments on specific deviation on deviantART as well, so no harm, no foul I suppose :) Good point about leaving no comment at all! I agree D: I like it better when people leave some information.
Reply
:iconpeppermintsoda:
PeppermintSoda Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014  Student
In the list of things that we should clearly state in our statement, the numbers goes as follows:

1. Why do you make your art?
2. What inspires you to make it?
3. What is special about the way you make it?
5.

Noes! 


Reply
:iconaryiea:
Aryiea Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014
My bad. :) I took out one because it seemed redundant and I must've forgotten to correct the numbers.
Reply
:iconpeppermintsoda:
PeppermintSoda Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014  Student
That's all right. Everyone makes mistakes. :)
Reply
:iconaryiea:
Aryiea Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014
especially deviantarts buggy scheduling system! D:
Reply
:iconbrookette:
Brookette Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014   Artisan Crafter
I've been having trouble with scheduled things too! My last 2 journals were errors, one I thought was lost and had to type it all up again only to find it was a double later in the day CURSE YOU! 
Reply
:iconaryiea:
Aryiea Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014
Bah! Well at least I can feel better that I'm not the only one haha! ;P I just went and copy pasta'd my article for :iconarthistoryproject: that's scheduled for a month from now xD Don't want it messing up and losing everything before it submits! :shakefish:
Reply
:iconbrookette:
Brookette Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014   Artisan Crafter
:nod: that's a good idea! doing it now!!
Reply
:iconaryiea:
Aryiea Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014
:meow: Woohoo! :D Hopefully soon all the bugs will be fixed and we won't have to. :la:
Reply
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