Making a Statement

Whenever I visit a professional artist’s website, the first thing I do — even before looking through the portfolio of paintings — is to find and read the artist’s statement. Often disguised as an “About Me” section on a website or blog, this statement introduces the artist and sets forth his or her essential thoughts about creating art. Biographical information may be included as well, and many artist statements include the idea of having a mission or purpose in art.

When I began this blog — back in March 2016 — I wrote a few words to describe what I hoped to do:

Artiscoveries Means “Art Discoveries”

“Artistcoveries” is a site for artists — like me — who are in the process of discovering their personal relationship with the incredible world of art.  It’s about exploring ideas and techniques as we begin to see ourselves as true artists — a word I never thought I’d associate with myself. It’s about discovering who we are as we uncover exciting new ways to create art, to express ourselves, and to share our joy with others. About Artistcoveries

Not really an artist statement but a bit of an explanation as to why I started this blog and what I hoped to accomplish with it. All of what I wrote then still holds true today. My journey of “art discovery” continues with new explorations day by day.

Yet many things have changed for me as an artist over these last few years. Where before I could think of myself only as an aspiring artist, I now recognize that I truly am an artist. I have original oil paintings hanging on my walls, a spacious art studio all my own, and a collection of ribbons and awards.

So maybe it’s time for me to think about a true artist statement. Maybe in some respects it’s time for me to take myself a bit more seriously as an artist. But not too seriously, of course.

I first looked at the practice of creating artist statements or mission statements back in 2017.  I linked then to several humorous “statement generators”. They’re as much fun to play with today as they were then, coming up with such gems of artistic wisdom as this:

“As shimmering phenomena become distorted through emergent and diverse practice, the viewer is left with an insight into the inaccuracies of our future.”

That actually sounds like something some snooty, high-brow artist or critic might come up with!

All joking aside, though, composing an artist statement is an essential component of being an artist. It means recognizing who we are, how we view the world, and where our art fits into it all.

Here is a concise definition of what an artist statement is and why we need one:

The most important thing for artists to write is their artist statement. It can greatly dictate how people view your work, whether you like it or not. A boring statement for exciting work can do a great disservice to the artist—and the world is full of boring artist statements full of abstract language that doesn’t accurately represent the work.

An artist statement should briefly describe how the artist works, and what their work means. It is no longer than a page and can be as short as one hundred words. You can use it for galleries, press mentions, portfolios, applications and submissions.

Try to approach writing a statement as an invigorating challenge. Going through this exercise can lead to new ways of thinking about your practice and can propel you towards positive changes. Your artist statement is not a comprehensive description of your work—instead think of the statement as leading into the work.

Format Magazine – How to Write an Artist Statement

First and foremost, of course, we must know what we want to say. That means taking a little time to gather information, to organize it in a cogent manner, and then to put it into words in a simple, straight-forward way. Good statements tend to be short, sweet, and to the point.

Today, I’m going to go back and re-visit those “fun” sites, along with new ones I’ve discovered, like the Kyle Clements site which produced this statement for me with only one click:

“Through the medium of paint, I seek to use various geometric formulas to explore key compositional elements, and bring them forward through my use of color and texture. I also use it as an opportunity to experiment with spontaneity and chance. I put an effort into not using my art as a means to represent imagery or direct aspects from the real world. I do not believe that it would be an unreasonable assumption to suggest that a painting is not made with theory alone, the materials are the vital component. I am inspired by groups like The Fauves, the early abstract expressionists, les Automatistes.”

OK, right. It doesn’t sound at all like me or my art.

How about this one from Gurney Journey?

“My recent work is a disquisition on our shared narratives which delves into the connectedness of the real and the abstract by creating a conversation between color and texture.”

No? Well, maybe using a generator isn’t the way to go, although — seriously, folks — these light-hearted looks at what our art means can kick our brains into high gear, making us think about what we’re really wanting to say through our art.

But eventually it’s time to put the fun and games aside, and over the next few days I’m going to be exploring some of the methods by which we can put together a legitimate statement about our art, about our mission, about who we are and why our art has meaning.

I hope you’ll follow along!

 

 

 

9 Comments

  1. Appreciated this post. I guess our ‘statement’ can take all kinds of forms. Elaborate – in that we can be ever changing or – simple, in that we tend to have a predominant underlying approach to all we produce. Have a good day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting! I’ll have a few additional thoughts to share about “artist statements” this week. I hope you’ll visit again and follow along.

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  2. Excellent post, Judith! For a long while I always had the sooty, polysyllabic NYT Art Critic kind of artist’s statement(s). That followed out of not having a clarity of vision from what I was doing, simply expressed the depths in which I naturally did it and developed my craft. I realized one year, WHOAH! That’s not me writing that statement.That’s me imitating 2 of my 3 parents — includes StepMom. My StepMom was an Art Critic And French Professor, and a great one, PhD in Comparative Lit focused on the French Surrealist poets such as Andre Breton and Paul Valery. My Dad was a Professor of English, Creative Writing, British Lit, Poetry, and his fave Greek Tragedy at the same university. My Mom was also a watercolorist, some oils and acrylics, and was the Marketing Director for a Business School (University). I aligned most with my Mom, though I seemed to keep writing as if I an Art Critic writing for the newspaper.

    So, I made a big change. I decided when a Painting is finished, it had graduated from me, and then speaks for itself. That lasted a while until I realized it made my voice a Hermit of sorts in the mix of things. Now, I circled back to begin crafting my artist’s statement from the perspective of 30+ years. I’m looking forward to see what I come up with, how I express the clarity of my vision in the art of words, a forensic poetry of sorts.

    This post is helpful, firmly puts the feet of the words on the ground so to speak. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a few more posts on the “artist statement” topic coming up — including one on the topic of the words we choose to use. I hope you’ll follow along and share a few thoughts.

      Like

    1. Thanks! I like that your statement changes. I think that’s how it should be! I’m developing a statement to help me better understand who I am as an artist now — and as I grow and change, my statement will grow and change along with me.

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