Why You Need an Artist Statement Before You Have an Art Business

What does your artist statement say about you? Oh, you don't have an artist statement? That says something right there.

art business strategies ebook
Jane Davila packs a wealth of information
into this downloadable eBook.

A lot of artists don't think they need an artist statement unless they have an art business or plan to show their art. But an artist statement can help you focus on the art you truly want to make and what you want to get out of making it. Once you know that, you can turn to the question of whether you want to sell art at all, sell art online, or if you think your work is more appropriately gallery art.

"Writing an artist statement is a useful exercise, whether you are writing it for a gallery or show, or just for yourself. Taking the time to thoroughly think through your process and why you make your art can help clarify your artistic goals and direction," says mixed-media fiber artist, author, and teacher Jane Davila.

Jane has been writing the "Minding Your Business" column for Quilting Arts Magazine for the past year, inspiring artists to set goals, increase sales, and approach their careers with renewed vigor. Recently, her columns were made available in one handy eBook, ready for downloading, called Art Business Strategies.

My husband is getting his portfolio together to submit to galleries, and has been working on his artist statement.  Like many artists, he's not that comfortable writing about himself and his art. He's found Jane's tips on how to get started very helpful.

Your Artist Statement: How to Get Started

Write down words to describe your art. For example: colorful, powerful, joyous, morose, well-constructed, spontaneous. It is very helpful to have a thesaurus on hand when making this list.

Write down phrases to describe your processes: fabric collage, printmaking, assemblage, mixed-media art, collage, etc.

Make long lists: It's always better to have too many words or phrases than not enough. You can pare down as necessary. The more raw materials you have to pull from, the easier it will be to write your statement. Before you move on to the next step, try linking some of the words and phrases into sentences.

Answer the following questions:

1. Why do you make art?

2. How do you make your art?

3. What materials do you use?

4. What does your art mean to you?

5. Are you trying to convey any emotions?

6. What inspires you?

7. Are there major influences in your work?

8. How do your technique, style, and methods relate to your medium?

Use the answers to these questions to flesh out a typical three-paragraph statement, writes Jane. In paragraph one, talk about why you make the art that you do. What influences you and inspires you? In the second paragraph, explain a little about your processes and the materials you use.

In the final paragraph, you can address your current work or a specific piece of work, explaining in more detail how and why you made it. Leave room for the viewer to see things for themselves in your work; don't dictate what they should see or feel.

This is just a small sample of the wealth of great advice Jane has to offer, based on her years of experience in the art world. You can download the entire Art Business Strategies eBook at the Cloth Paper Scissors Shop.

P.S. Do you have an artist statement? Why or why not? Leave your comment below.


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