Free thinking & writing

Before writing your artist statement, make a list of words and phrases that communicate your feelings about your work and your values as an artist. Be loose, happy and real.

Questions to ask yourself

Answers all of these questions (or those most relevant to your work):

  • Why do you do what you do?
  • How did you get into this work?
  • How do you feel when things go well with your work?
  • What do you like best about the art you create?
  • Favourite tool(s)? Why?
  • Favourite material(s)? Why?
  • What do you mean when you say that a piece turned out really well?
  • Which patterns, symbols or elements emerge repeatedly when you look at several of your works or projects?
  • Are there colours, textures and light qualities that you use often?
  • If you received training, is there anything you do differently than what you were taught? Why?
  • What is your favourite colour? Name 3 qualities of this colour and how it applies to your work.
  • What is your intention as an artist?
  • What are you hoping to share or say through your work?
  • Describe your method of working – do you focus on individual works or are you series-orientated?
  • What is the content and/or meaning in your work?
  • Do you have multiple subjects in your work or do you concentrate on particular subjects and imagery?
  • Is your work realistic, abstract or symbolic?
  • How do you decide about your composition?
  • What is your creative process like?
  • What are the most important formal elements and principles that you employ in your work?

Writing your Artist Statement

Rework your questions and phrases, putting it all together with this as guideline (but please also allow your own personality to express itself through your writing!):

1st paragraph

Simple statement about why you do your work. Support the statement by telling more about your goals and aspirations as an artist

2nd paragraph

Explain your creative process, how you make decisions when working. This includes how and why you select your materials, techniques, and themes. Keep it simple, tell the truth.

3rd paragraph

Describe your current work and how it grew from prior work or life experiences. What are you exploring, attempting, or challenging through your work?

Edit, rewrite, get input

Write and rewrite, make changes until you’re happy and proud of it. Allow yourself time when writing your artist statement – even days if you have the luxury of time. Put it down and come back to it at another time. Remember that you experience different rhythms, moods, and states of creativity during a month. Choose your time well.

Ask friends, other artists or your mentor to read and give constructive feedback. Tell them what you need – “I need to know how to explain my art in words in a clear and understandable way. How do you think I can improve this?”

Relook and update

Come back to it occasionally, updating some of the details that aren’t relevant anymore as you progress and grow as an artist.

By no means is this a definitive guide, and please note that it’s been put together from notes I made years ago. You’ll also see that I don’t necessarily apply it when writing my own artist statement. But I hope that it helps you!