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There are several ways to write an artist statement from the more poetic, to the short and sweet. For our class we will focus on the academic model of the artist statement. This style will remind you of essay writing used in other classes. Adopting something you are familiar with allows you to focus more on your words and their meaning. However as you mature as an artist, understand that this is only one model and there are others that are acceptable, that you can adapt to your needs.
Note: An artist statement and proposal can be extremely similar. The biggest difference is that a "proposal" will describe what the future work will look like and a "statement" exists alongside completed work, so any descriptions can be more about the process or be more poetic.
The First Section:
You have 10 seconds to get my attention. Remember there are 300 other artist statements on the person who is about to read your desk, and you must capture their attention in the first sentence, so make it count. Often an exciting quote is used, followed by an interesting first sentence. Make me want to read more.The first paragraph should continue to introduce the topic and set up the reader for the rest of the statement.
Example of a Good First Paragraphs:
"Many people take great comfort in the bathroom towels being the same color as the soap, toilet paper, and tiles. It means
there is a connection between them, and an environment of order. Home is a place not only of comfort, but of control. This
sense of order, in whatever form it takes, acts as a shield against the unpredictability and lurking chaos of the outside world."
The Second Section:
Now that you have the reader's attention, you must prove that your opinion is worth listening to, and the reader should continue. Make your reader trust you. You would never go home and ask a family member to operate on you because you would not trust that they had the knowledge to do so. You need to prove to people that they can trust you with this topic and that you are a doctor so they will listen to you. Do this by fleshing out your topic with research. Prove to the reader that you know what you are talking about, that you have researched it, that you understand it, and that it has a historical precedent and an established tradition. Hence, this is the place to put historical or cultural context. This section is the place to mention mentor artists or movements. A paragraph in this area is not about you but the research that leads you to think about these thoughts.
The Third Section:
Now that you have the reader's attention and they trust that you have an intelligent, educated opinion, it is time to let them into who you are and what you will bring or add to the topic conceptually. This area is the place to let us know what you think is going on in the topic presented and how you will change/enhance it. You should be innovative in this section, allowing your ideas to dig deeper. Separate yourself from the hundred other people thinking about this topic here.
The 4th Section:
Well, now that we know what you think, you can tell us what it will look like or look like when you translate it into art. How are you visually solving or going to solve the subject of your topic? Please be specific. Describe the process you used in this area. Tell me what you imagine it will look like if the work has yet to exist (a proposal). If the work already exists (a statement), what can you tell me about that I cannot see with my eyes? Be descriptive.
The 5th Section:
In this section, a summary or conclusion of the statement is the goal. Therefore, this section should refer to the first paragraph to complete your thought.
I know you are writing this, so do not say things like "I THINK". It is redundant and makes you sound less intelligent than you are.
Do not be redundant in other ways. For example, make sure that you do not have two or more sentences that say the same thing in a slightly different way.
Do not be passive. I do not want to see, "I HOPE MY ART"...or "MAYBE,"….etc.
Be declarative. These words are what you think; if you come across like you do not know what you think or are indecisive, I am less likely to believe/trust you or your work. So let me know how it is because this is your world, your definition of art, and what you think.
Ease up on the number of "I's" you use. The more "I's" I see, the less intelligent you look. There are other ways to write sentences brighter than always using "I" or "my." Be creative and use them. It will make you sound more competent than those who use them.
Do not keep starting the same sentence with the same word. There are many more words to start a sentence besides "THE," "THIS," or their other redundant friends. When you do this, you come across as less intelligent. Make sure you apply these rules at the start of new paragraphs. Make sure that each new paragraph starts with a new word and has a new phrasing/sentence structure approach.
This last rule applies to any word. If you find that you are using the same word a lot, get creative in finding other ways to say it. A thesaurus helps us all sound intelligent, so use it sparingly.
Finally, do not sound like everyone else.