An artist statement is information that introduces your work and describes your art. It’s heavily debated whether it’s necessary (after all, art-y people say art should stand on its own). We believe that having an artist statement will bring your patrons closer to your work and help them become familiar with your themes, aesthetic, and story.
Why would someone be interested in your story? Well, sometimes, it’s all a patron knows about you. Maybe they see your work in a gallery and are interested in knowing more about the artist. It’s helpful to have a statement to bring a deeper understanding of your work.
Think about it this way: Mia Tarducci equates the recent locavore interest in art to the farm-to-table phenomenon we experienced in Pittsburgh a few years ago. People were so excited to know that their food was grown 5 miles down the road by an ex-corporate lawyer who wanted to return to the farming tradition of his family and cook small, formal dinners for guests at his farm. Similarly, we have such a rich art scene in Pittsburgh, we are seeing the same courtesy given to artists.
Going back to the farm-to-table example: would you rather have a meal prepared by some nameless chef with produce grown and flown in from California, or would you, as a dedicated lover of local, rather eat a meal prepared by that farmer and contribute to the continuation of his dream? Not to mention, you’d have a killer story to tell about this great meal and the interesting people you met at a little farmhouse on the outskirts of Pittsburgh.
It’s not just knowing your food, or art, or clothes were grown or made year you. It’s about closing the gap between the producer and the purchaser. It’s important to note that this applies to the discerning art lover who appreciates one of a kind, small batch, unique art, not someone who gets their framed art at a large retailer that rhymes with Schmicheal’s.
Like having a professional portfolio, an artist statement tells a story of your vision, your process, and your inspiration. Getting the story behind the work increases the understanding of you and your art, likelihood of a patron purchasing it, and likelihood of them sharing it with others (just like that awesome person who supported the lawyer-farmer instead of going to a place where the breadsticks are endless). When you tie an artist statement to your work, it humanizes the maker. And when people understand that a human person made this thing they are interested in, it increases the perceived value of the work.
How do you write a solid artist statement? Start by describing your work, then talk about how you created it. You absolutely must include what unique methods and/or materials you used. This unique perspective will help you stand out and tell your story - AKA: your “why.” Tell us about that why: why do you do this, why you were inspired to create this piece, what commentary you hope to share with this work. If possible, keep it to 2 or 3 paragraphs. Attention spans are short!
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