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From Twitter, I was directed to this site where the need for artists statements for fine art was discussed. Have any of you written them and did they do you any good? I quite like the ones generated here - if you're going to be pretentious, better do it with some style.
I thought it would make a fun discussion.
I've had to write artists statements to get into school, a gallery show, to get a grant, and to graduate. Since my art has evolved since then, I haven't written or used one recently, but a well written statement goes a long way and can nail you a place in a show. From my limited experience, it's also nice to have a general statement at a showing so that people can read what your work is about before they browse it.
Just make sure that your artist statement isn't too long and that it actually reflects what kind of work you do. Also just follow the basic rules of good writing. Some artists think the longer and more metaphorical and flowery their words are, the more impressive it sounds. You can make a poignant statement without overdoing the writing. Essentially since a statement accompanies your work, your art should do a lot of the talking as well. Gallery owners don't want to read novels, especially when they don't even know who you are.
I don't see a lot of illustrators using artist statements but i have seen some write blurbs about what a particular piece is about. This usually applies to people that are interested in editorials but this is just based on my personal observation.
I'm so unsure of myself when I give advice/reply to something here. I'm sure someone will have a very different opinion than mine.
I've never actually thought about an artist's statement before. To me, if a picture needs a written explanation then it probably isn't doing a very good job of conveying the artist's intent. I think it's like that old writer's phrase, "show, don't tell."
Sometimes you can't escape telling, but it's much more exciting and engaging for the viewer\reader when they're figuring it out themselves instead of having their hand held.
I think I wrote some artist's statements eons ago... or at least some blather for college applications... damned if I can remember what I wrote, but I'm sure it had plenty of pretentious fluff to fill it out.
Other than that, I have written reams and reams of marketing material - for me, the company I used to work for, and some of the large projects I've worked on. (Mostly because I'm usually the only person on the team who can write a coherent paragraph. I always seem to end up working with lots of communication-impaired programmers and dyslexic designers...)
But that stuff has a completely different tone from artist's statements - instead of pretentiousness it reeks of gung-ho peppy marketing hype... "Look at us! We're great! We're super-duper! We're cutting-edge and minty-fresh! You want to give us money, yes you do!"
Is there a peppy-marketing-hype generator? I need to re-write my bio again (I hate writing bios...)
As far as doing any good, there have been occassions where it's given people at the art opening a way of approaching me to talk about it more, which has led to interesting conversations, as well as giving me a base to stand on. For a recent exhibit, it was used as part of a local newspaper article and the galleries press release, etc.
I'm a firm believer in an artist knowing what they are all about, and be able to articulate it clearly in writing. It helps to understand what it is they're doing, why, and where they plan on taking it. It's not just a business requirement for a gallery exhibition, but helps you understand your work more deeply.
On the technical side, I echo what JJacks, said, keep it simple, clear and to the point. I would also avoid trying to be too informal ("I doubt anyone takes these things seriously, but I had to write this thing...") That makes you sound dumb. Say enough to show you know what you're talking about but save some of it for later. Give people some room to figure things out on their own to some degree, and maybe a little insight into your own point of view that isn't obvious in the work.
I'm firmly of the opinion that you should be able to appreciate art on solely on the quality of the artwork itself. It follows that an artist's statement is therefore either superfluous, or that the artwork it is attached to is somehow deficient.
Now, to demonstrate my ignorance of the fine art world, is the apparent plague of artist's statements perhaps something that follows naturally from the emergence of post-war "contemporary" art?
I.e., a masterfully executed painting can be appreciated for the craftsmanship involved. A rotting shark in a tank filled with formaldehyde, on the other hand, might require some explanation.
Yes, good work usually speaks well for itself but as an artist you are going to have to discuss your art to other people in written form or in conversation. No matter how good you think you are, not everyone is going to get the precise meaning of everything you paint/sculpt/do.
Yep, I've written several, I have even written anti-artist statements for use in a show!
But an artist statement is not about any particular piece, it is about you as an artist, your motivations, your direction and such. It is used in galleries/colleges/grants to help show that you have a mature and developed portfolio and focus in your arts. Me, I prefer to let an idea determine the medium used, sometimes it works out and sometimes the idea and original medium just do not mesh.
The artist statement serves a purpose also to yourself, it helps you articulate what you and your art are about and that in the long run makes you more articulate on yourself and your work and will help you self-promote and sell work.
If I ever have to write an artist statement.
"I has a art."
Hands down. I promise you.
I'm also considering "Poogas."
The purpose of an artist statement isn't to describe individual works, it's about all of them. If it's written properly it enhances the art and adds information that is not obvious. Think of it like a cover letter to a resume or CV. It's an introduction.
If you can't at least describe the work to yourself, then you don't know what you're doing.
This artwork's insidious surrealism shows that human decency will dehumanize the entrenchment of our atheistic spiritual insights.This artwork's volumetric abstraction shows that corporate mentality will enlighten the entrenchment of our perilous balancing between taking risks and simply hanging on.I got a laugh at these.This artwork's unparalleled mannerist propaganda shows that quasi-representationalism will demasculate all hope for materials and pictorial metaphors.
I'll start writing artist's statements when writers start drawing "author's pictures"
The left brain wins again!
The truth will set you free,
but first it's gonna piss you off!