An artist statement conveys not just what our images say, but all the things they can’t, by their very nature, say. It’s also a way to communicate our project and personal vision to others who aren’t privy to our thoughts and creative process. It tells people in our industry that we are serious, dedicated; that we’ve put time into thinking about our work and that we’re worth publishing, promoting or otherwise supporting.
Keep the following in mind as you write your artist statement:
- Write from your own perspective, not from a viewer’s perspective of your work. An artist statement isn’t a persuasive statement. You don’t want to tell viewers how to receive your photographs. Rather, you want to provide them with details that support your images and allow them to react to those details in whatever way they see fit.
- Begin by asking yourself:
- Why did you create your photographs?
- What’s the story behind the photographs?
- What are you trying to express in the photographs?
- How do your current photographs reflect those you made in the past?
- Who or what influences you to photograph?
- Who or what inspired you to make your project?
- Using answers to the aforementioned questions, brainstorm a list of words that convey your influences, your creative process, your values and the themes you explore with photography.
- Start drafting your artist statement using the following guidelines:
- Write in the first person (use “I” and “my”).
- Begin with a broad statement or two that clearly and concisely describes your series.
- Provide details that express how the ideas in your statement are reflected in your work and why you chose the medium of photography to express yourself.
- State the themes and/or experiences that influenced your work.
- Craft a concluding sentence or two that summarizes the most salient points about your project.
- Be concise and to the point.
- Write using straightforward language and sentence structure.
- Use words that are an authentic reflection of your photography.
- Include details that are relevant and interesting.
- Proofread your writing for grammatical and spelling errors.
- Do not:
- Describe yourself as amazing and important or brag about your awards or honors (you don’t want to come across as egotistical).
- Include cliché terms or phrases, too much jargon or too many technical terms.
- Explain at length your techniques and materials.
- Have a tone evocative of marketing speak (it comes across as persuasive or manipulative).
Coming up next: How to fine-tune your artist statement.