Artist statement examples: crafting your own unique narrative

Artist statement examples: crafting your own unique narrative
Estimated reading time:
minutes

Whether you're a new artist or a seasoned one, and whether you're into pottery, watercolors, or sculptures, you need an artist statement. Movies and TV series have trailers, books have synopsis and blurbs, and artists have artist statements. It's essential to being creative and presenting your art to the world.

A well-crafted artist statement is essentially a tool that helps the artist communicate their vision to their audience, completely transforming people's relationship with the artist's art. It offers clarity and helps them understand the art and the artist. Your artist statement will be unique to you, just like your art, which only makes it that much more important and special.

So, let's discuss the key elements of an effective artist statement, look at some examples of artist statements, and dive into the step-by-step process of writing an unforgettable artist statement that touches people's hearts.

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What is an artist statement?

An artist statement is a short paragraph that describes what you make and why you make it. Essentially, an artist statement allows you, as an artist, to bring your art to life with words. With your artist statement, you have the power to transform how your audience perceives your art and give them a tiny insight into your artist's mind.

Your artistic statement is a part of your artist tool kit, just like your paints, brushes, or carving tools. You'll be asked for an artist statement whenever you apply for grants and residencies and something you might need for exhibitions. It's not just a simple artistic narrative to explain your art. It's part of your art portfolio.

Key elements of an effective artist statement

There are not that many artist statement tips that make writing an artist statement easy. The truth is that writing an effective artist statement is art in itself. It will take some practice to perfect it, and it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the key elements of an artist statement before you start drafting yours.

Here are the three key elements of every compelling artist statement you might want to consider when drafting yours:

  • Clarity: Your "what." This is your time to explain what you do and what artistic medium you work with (watercolor, sculpture, etc.). It gives your audience clarity on who you are as an artist and what to expect from you.
  • Authenticity: Your "why." The key element that sets you apart from other creatives is why you create, why you choose your medium, and why your art is the way it is. It's your chance to tell your audience why you're unique and what your authentic angle is.
  • Specificity: Your "how." Some artists are very particular about their art and techniques, making them an essential part of their identity and art. If you're one of those artists, make sure to include that in your artist statement to help people better understand the technique and its importance.

Artist statement examples

So, by now, you know what an artist statement is, why you might need it, and the key components of a great artist statement. Before you write a new artist statement or perfect your current one, you might want to get some inspiration from an artist statement. And the best way to do that is to look at other artists' work. We have three excellent artist statement examples that will help you get a better grip on how to write a compelling artist statement:

Angela Fehr

Teachable Creator and artist Angela Fehr has a very distinct brand, and her artist statement reflects it very well:

"Nature informs both my subject and my process. As a watercolorist, I marry water with color to create my work, understanding that I am working alongside a medium that must be allowed to flow, to evolve, and my responses are as immediate as the flick of a brush."

Fehr's artist statement clearly explains her art philosophy and what inspires her to create. She also outlines her art methods (watercolors) and blends them nicely with the goals she tries to accomplish through her art.

Acrylic Pouring

Here is another great artist statement example from a Teachable Creator, Deby Coles:

"Nonetheless, art for me is about the creativity, the color, the release of tension. It's the taking part, not the winning. And it feels great!"

Cole's artist statement is short, sweet, and to the point. She communicates what's important to her about art and how she uses it in her artistic practice. She also shares her art philosophy and values, which helps people connect better with her art and her as an artist.

Yayoi Kusama

Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama's artist statement is as iconic as she is:

"My art originates from hallucinations only I can see. I translate the hallucinations and obsessional images that plague me into sculptures and paintings."

This artist's statement is unique and authentic, written in the artist's voice, which makes it stand out immediately. It perfectly complements Kusama's art and artistic identity. Kusama's artist statement is an extension of her art, and that's exactly what you want to aim for when drafting your artist statement.

How to write your own artist statement

The next step is to learn how to write an artist statement. While it might be daunting, it's not as hard and intimidating as it might seem from the first look. We put together a quick artist statement guide that will help you make the process effortless. Essentially, the process of writing your artist statement can be broken down into three stages:

Step 1: Brainstorm

So, the very first stage to writing your artist statement is brainstorming. This is the process that sets the foundation, and it's crucial. What should you do during the brainstorming stage? Well, you might want to take a good look at your artwork and your library. Notice the themes, the colors, and the concepts. Then, make a list that describes your art – what words, emotions, feelings, and thoughts come up when you look at your art?

Consider talking with a friend, peer, or mentor about your art. Tell them what you feel, see, think, and imagine. Hearing yourself talk out loud about your art or trying to explain it to another person can spark some great ideas you wouldn't get otherwise.

Also, look inward. Use journaling to really understand your values and inspiration. What drives you and motivates you to pick up your tools and create? Document all these things about yourself and your art because they'll be useful in the next step.

Step 2: Drafting

Once you've brainstormed, it's time to combine all your notes, journaling prompts, and other pieces into a cohesive paragraph. This is where you might want to look at examples of artist statements to get inspiration and understand how other artists connect words in meaningful, powerful ways.

Don't focus too much on getting it perfect the first time. It will take a few drafts to get it right. The key here is to determine the best way to explain who you are, what you do, and why your art and process matter.

Step 3: Refine

Truthfully, the third and final stage might be the most important in the whole process—revising, editing, and refining your artist statement. Many skip this step, but we recommend it because it will help you improve your artist statement.

First, you might want to read your artist's statement out loud. Sometimes, reading it out loud can help you notice if something doesn't sound quite right or if you made mistakes or typos.

As you're reading your statement, spend some time looking over your work. Do the words you've written about it make sense as you look at your art? Or did the meaning get lost in translation during the process?

Lastly, Stephen King always advocates for "killing your darlings" when authors edit their novels. The same advice can be applied to your artist statement: look at every single word and evaluate whether it's necessary, holds value, or simply fills an empty space.

Common mistakes to avoid

Sometimes, it's easy to get carried away when drafting your artist statement and get lost. That's why revisions are so important to the process – they allow you to identify any artist statement mistakes you might be making in the process. Here are some common artist statement pitfalls you want to avoid:

Using jargon

When you draft your artist statement, remember to write what's true to your work instead of trying to write what you think people want to hear about your art. You're an artist, and your statement should reflect that and not sound like it was written by a professional art critic. Forgo difficult, fancy words and make your writing simple and clear, sounding like your authentic self.

Being too vague

Remember, clarity is one of the key components of an effective artist statement. So, when drafting yours, always try to be clear and straightforward with your words. While purple prose has its place and time, it's definitely not your artist statement – it should read as something human, relatable, and super easy to gauge the key meaning of.

Overload of information

People don't need to know everything about you, your art, and what's going through your mind — some things are best left to yourself. It's tempting to overexplain yourself and go in-depth on all details about your art, inspiration, and work, but consider keeping things minimal. Less is more when it comes to your artist statement, so focus on only essential information.

Getting feedback and refining your statement

Once you have your first draft, getting feedback on an artist's statement from your peers, mentors, and art experts is essential. It can definitely be daunting to show something personal to other's feedback and constructive criticism, but an extra pair of eyes or a few can make a huge difference.

Your mentors and peers can offer an outside perspective of how you as an artist and your art shows up that you might not notice yourself. All that is useful, so avoid getting defensive about any feedback you receive. You don't have to implement something that doesn't feel right. But give yourself time to mull over the feedback you receive and truly consider if it might be useful.

That's why giving yourself enough time to gather, receive, and review the feedback is essential. Give your peers and mentors enough time so they are not in a rush and can properly take in your artist statement and gather their thoughts. Then, leave enough time and space for yourself to consider the feedback and what's worth implementing.

Also, always make sure to review your artist statement for types, which can take a few rounds. Getting a few pairs of eyes when proofreading can be a great help, so make sure you leave enough time for that, too.

How to use your artist statement

Creating a compelling artist statement is an essential step in defining and communicating your artistic vision. It not only helps others understand your work but also deepens your connection with your audience. Now, imagine having the ability to share your unique artistic journey with a wider audience, reach new clients, and generate income from your passion.

With Teachable, you can do just that. By creating your own digital products, like online courses or workshops, you can start earning and making a greater impact today. Sign up for a free Teachable account and take the next step in your artistic journey. Empower yourself to share your art with the world and inspire others through your creativity.

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