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An artist statement is at the very least a concise summary of your art practice that helps others understand your work. Ideally it serves as a stand-in for you, talking about your work and practice and in that sense is an extension of your voice.
It should serve as an introduction to you, your interests & curiosities, your artwork, and what you are aspiring towards. It can be a place where you bring together your medium interests with your conceptual interests.
There is no correct way to write an artist statement as long as it reflects your work and personality- it can be poetic,minimal or philosophical. You can choose to focus on covering a specific work, group of works or your body of work developed over a longer period of time.
This document doesn’t need to be more than a page long (500 words) and should be edited/drafted as per the requirement of the opportunity you are applying for. This can be a simple written document.
Tips for writing your artist statement:
- Mind map - If you’re having trouble with getting started and identifying your interests, do an exercise to do a mind map. List out your conceptual interests, your ideas, the mediums you work with, the processes you experiment with, or the technical skills - or just anything that comes to mind about your work. Keep the process quite free-flowing and intuitive. Try to see what the points of intersection are, and how these pointers can then be organised into clusters or short statements. This is a great starting point for mapping out the information you want to include in your artist statement.
- Conversations and words/ Speaking out thoughts - If you still have trouble writing, try interviewing yourself and recording it, or record yourself explaining your practice to a friend or family member. Sometimes it is easier to speak about yourself. Listen back to the recording and try and pick up key sentences that you can expand on.
In your personal statement, keep your ideas and references clear. Try to write how you would speak - avoid jargon and complicated sentences that confuse the reader instead of clarifying your main point. The artist statement is just there to support your art practice - it doesn’t have to be a thesis on your work.
Be specific. Try to get into some detail about your work and what makes it different than anyone elses. You could do this by giving examples of works that you have made, make sure to refer to only 2-3 works, keeping it minimal. Try to avoid making general statements that could apply to anyone’s practice.
Make sure to edit your writing. Try and have someone proofread what you have written. There are several free online grammar editing apps like Grammarly - you can use those to clean up the spelling and grammar of whatever you have to submit.
The artist statement is all about you!
Keep it personal about your interest and passion about the work.
No matter the nature of the opportunity, it is always good to submit a motivation letter or a combination of a covering letter + artist statement with all applications. It serves as an introduction to yourself and your practice and helps the evaluator read the CV, portfolio and project proposal in continuance, filling the gaps. Most applications will ask for at least one of these, however it is advisable to share an artist statement and a cover letter even if it isn’t asked for.