Saturday, September 24, 2011

Translating and Updating an Artist's Statement

Here are three links to some sound resources for artists who are pondering on How to Write an Artist's Statement
An Artist's Statement is essential - but lots of artists dread writing a statement about their art!
First a video - which deals with the translation aspect of the language used in an artist's statement by Charlotte Young (Today I made Nothing), a UK visual artist

UPDATE - Video #2: Ilaria highlighted another video in the comments and this is also worth taking a look at - yet another artist having an ironic view on the topic of constructing an artist's statement].

Second - a very sound proposition from Joanne Mattera (Joanne Mattera Art Blog) which is recommended reading - Marketing Mondays: Rethinking the Artist’s Statement

Finally - an article by Carolyn Edlund on Artsy Shark which neatly summarises 6 Ways your Artist Statement can Work for You

All of these links have been added into my very popular resource How to Write an Artist's Statement [updated link] which attracts huge traffic round about the time fine artists graduate - but there's no reason why students should not look at it earlier in the academic year!

Below you can find what it covers - click one of the links to find out more (this section has been updated and revised for new links on the new website)

After that, you might find it useful to take a look at How to write an Artist's Resume or CV (revised and updated link)


Jeanette Jobson said...

I've broken the code for creating an artist statement and can do so now without huge amounts of angst.

However, each and every one I write, I inwardly resent each word and whoever decided that this was a document that needed to be created to describe what an artist thinks, what they use, where their work comes from.

When I see art, I do not care a jot who created, how they created, what its created with or what state of mind they were in when they did. I buy art because it speaks to me. I have a connection to it in some form.

Where is the history behind why artist statements are de riguer for galleries, competitions, etc? Does anyone ever read them at exhibitions? I know I don't. I don't care a fig what you thought about when you created a body of work. I just know that I like it or I don't.

Are artist statements just another level of hype around the whole 'mystique' of being an artist, as if we're some strange being with supernatural powers who need to have every stroke dissected?

Rant over. Thank you. :)

Making A Mark said...

I tend to read them when I don't "get" the art that is being made.

Or am puzzled as to why art should attract critical acclaim when it doesn't seem to be in any out of the ordinary or to merit it to me

Very often these are the artist's statements which also don't make sense to me ie the art is inaccessible and the words are also!

However nowadays they are a fact of life. I like galleries which have artist's who have statements which are accessible to ordinary people.

Ester Roi said...

Thank you for this post, Katherine! This is just what I needed as I'm getting ready to rewrite my artist statement. As an artist I wish I didn't have to, but as you said, it is a fact of life.

Ilaria said...

Sorry, Katherine, I can't resist posting this

Making A Mark said...

That is so good - I now need to an update!

Ester Roi said...

LOL Ilaria! Explaining what we do could be so simple.

Making A Mark said...

Second video now added to this post

Unknown said...

This is perfect timing, as I decided today I need to update my statement for some shows I plan to do.

Jeanette's comments caused me to think, but I like your response as I am like you reading the statements when I want to understand the art more.

Jennifer said...

Agreed - I hate having to read a pompous essay in order to 'understand' a piece of art!

Thanks for a great resource on how to write an artist's statement. I recently edited mine down to be briefer, which probably wasn't the right thing to do ...

I rarely comment, but am constantly in awe of the amount of time you put into your blog and the degree of information that you impart to us!

Now let's see if I can post this ...


Jeanette Jobson said...

Katherine, I understand that sometimes art is so 'unique' that the viewer may have a WTF question at each image they see. And as you say, often the artist statement just makes it all even more confusing.

Yes, they are a part of life, but WHY? Artists don't like them and don't want them. What is the history behind them and why did they become mainstream? Simply habit? And why are we being made to use them when we all despise them and know they are completely meaningless? What other occupation has to explain in lofty bullshit what and why they do what they do?

Ilaria, yes a perfect video. It sums up the farcical nature of the artist statement.

Making A Mark said...

Jeanette - I actually beg to differ - having had to write the pitch for major management consultancy jobs before now which always had to sing the praises of the inestimable consultants on the team!

Seriously - it's marketing pure and simple. Whether it's marketing yourself to get a job or a grant or for use by a gallery in trying to sell work it's the "schmooze" which is used to try and get the money rolling in.

It's got nothing to do with the work as such.

The way I explain it to people at a practical level - and in a way which makes it accessible to anybody - is to think about it as the sort of thing you might say about your work if asked about it at a private view.

If you don't want to say anything - then don't have an artist's statement

If you can explain what you do in simple terms which anybody can understand - either verbally or in writing - then that will probably help the relationship and understanding between the artist and the collector.

The last thing you need is an artist's statement which doesn't feel like it's part of who you are and what you do.

Cathy Gatland said...

I came across this artists statement generator via Luan Udell's blog - :-)

Meera Rao said...

Love the videos! and thanks for the links too.

Sue Smith said...

Loved the videos, Katherine, I'm still smiling. I will forever be thinking about "flowers" the next time I try writing a "brief- precisely-one-half-page-word-document-with-no-contact-information" artist statement - I was recently asked for with those instructions. Thanks for the nice start to my day.

Marian Fortunati said...

You made me laugh today. Those videos so hit home!!!

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