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How to write an Artist Statement

Rules to follow to write the perfect artist statement to attach to your bio.

Written by
January 29, 2023

Hello and welcome to Onstream Gallery.

Today I want to give you some practical advice about one of the tools most required of an artist, which gives us a lot of insight into his or her research and, more importantly, his or her motivation.

The Artist Statement is a tool that we usually request together with the portfolio. Obviously, its use is quite varied: it is requested in galleries, it accompanies an exhibition catalogue, it can be requested for participation in fairs or be downloaded on the website.

Whatever your destination, we are here today to give you practical advice on how to write.

Writing an Artist Statement well allows you to facilitate whoever is in front of you-a curator, a gallerist, a fair director-and get your message understood as quickly as possible.

Put yourself in our shoes: we receive dozens, if not hundreds of emails every day.

Very often we need to hurry up or at least have written texts in front of us that are easy to understand.

An artist statement helps us in this process!

The Artist Statement differs from the Biography, where you list your academic and artistic career, because it presents solely and exclusively the value of your work in emotional terms.

In other words, the message you want to express, the values of your art, everything that represents you most deeply.

Knowing how to write an Artist Statement I would call a basic skill in an artist's career, so here are 5 useful tips for you to go ahead without fear and write a document that represents you at your best.

  1. It has to be written in the first person.

    Think about it: you are an artist and on the other side you have to convince someone that your art works.

    It is right that you put yourself out there in the first person, because no one knows you better than yourself.

    Whether you need to be evaluated by a Gallerist or a Curator, or a collector who wants to buy directly from you, you should play all the cards you have.

    Take care!
  2. Keep it simple: don't assume that whoever is on the other end knows exactly what you are talking about.

    Jargon, technicalities and big words won't make you a better person, but they will risk making the person reading you feel uncomfortable.

    The same applies if you are writing this document for your website.

    In fact, writing for a web page is certainly different to writing for a person who is going to read your statement on a piece of paper.

    Always consider your target audience and don't be afraid to make adjustments here and there depending on the situation.
  3. Length.

    So, we Italians have a problem.

    We can't manage to be concise or clear in what we want to say.

    But this clashes with those who are forced to read your Artist Statement. We'll be strict, but fair.

    A short statement is about 150 - 200 words, a long statement is about a Word page, consisting of 600 words.
  4. How, What and Why

    Answer these 3 questions, and you will always know what to write.

    - How: How do you create your work? Describe your artistic practice, technique and medium.

    - What: What are you trying to communicate? What is the message you are trying to convey? What are your artistic influences?

    - Why: Why do you paint? What inspires you the most? Don't be afraid to express yourself unfiltered, we appreciate sincerity.

    We like the philosophical and romantic aspect a lot, if it is contextualised.
  5. The 3 Cs, your reader's best friend:

    Content should be clear, concise and coherent.

    Why clear? Because as we told you before, avoid big words and speak to an audience that potentially knows nothing about art.

    Why concise? Because you don't have a lot of space, use it well. To do this, follow the 3 Ws, which we told you about above.

    Why consistent? Because it is important that what you write in the Artist Statement corresponds in fact to the works you will present in the portfolio.

    If your practice has evolved over time, as it often has, surely your artistic message has evolved as well.

    The portfolio and the Artist Statement go hand in hand, one depends on the other.

    What you probably realized is that when you write you must think above all about facilitating those who read you: although this is a general rule, we believe it applies even more to artists.

    Why? Because communicating your art is certainly difficult, but necessary when you are taking your first steps in the marketplace.

    For this reason, I realize that finding yourself having to write an Artist Statement out of thin air, just because you are asked to, could be quite difficult.

    Now, all you have to do is try your hand at it!

    Start writing your Artist Statement from scratch and do a little rehearsing. You'll see that as you bang your head on it, you'll be able to come up with text that will represent you 100 percent.

    See you soon!

    Chiara from Onstream Gallery


    Need help writing your artist statement? I can help you with that. Find out how
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