Artist Statement Guidelines
Artists can send their artist statement for professional review. GYST submission policies, examples of artist statements, and writing tips are found below:
What Is an Artist’s Statement?
- A general introduction to your work, a body of work, or a specific project.
- It should open with the work’s basic ideas in an overview of two or three sentences or a short paragraph.
- The second paragraph should go into detail about how these issues or ideas are presented in the work.
- If writing a full-page statement, you can include some of the following points:
- Why you have created the work and its history.
- Your overall vision.
- What you expect from your audience and how they will react.
- How your current work relates to your previous work.
- Where your work fits in with current contemporary art.
- How your work fits in with the history of art practice.
- How your work fits into a group exhibition, or a series of projects you have done.
- Sources and inspiration for your images.
- Artists you have been influenced by or how your work relates to other artists’ work. Other influences.
- How this work fits into a series or longer body of work.
- How a certain technique is important to the work.
- Your philosophy of art making or of the work’s origin.
- The final paragraph should recapitulate the most important points in the statement.
What an Artist’s Statement is NOT:
- Pomposity, writing a statement about your role in the world.
- Grandiose and empty expressions and clichés about your work and views.
- Technical and full of jargon.
- Long dissertations or explanations.
- Discourses on the materials and techniques you have employed.
- Poems or prosy writing.
- Folksy anecdotes about some important event in your life.
- Nothing about your childhood or family unless it is very relevant to your work.
- Not a brag fest or a press release.
Why Write an Artist’s Statement?
- Writing an artist’s statement can be a good way to clarify your own ideas about your work.
- A gallery dealer, curator, docent, or the public can have access to your description of your work, in your own words. This can be good for a reviewer as well.
- Useful in writing a proposal for an exhibition or project.
- It is often required when applying for funding.
- It is often required when applying to graduate school.
- It can be a good idea to include an artist’s statement when your slides are requested for review or your work is included in the slide library of a college or university.
- Good to refer to when you are preparing a visiting artist lecture, or someone else is lecturing or writing about your work.
- Useful when you are applying for a teaching position.
- Good idea when a press release is being written.
- Useful when someone is writing about your work in a catalog or magazine.
- Useful when someone else is writing a bio for a program brochure.
- It is a good way to introduce your work to a buying public. Often the more a buyer knows about your work the more they become interested in what you do, and in purchasing a work.
Types of Artist’s Statements You Might Need.
- Full-Page Statement: This statement you will use most often; it speaks generally about your work, the methods you may have used, the history of your work, etc. It may also include specific examples of your current work or project.
- Short Statement: A shorter statement that includes the above in an abbreviated way, or is specific to the project at hand.
- Short Project Statement: A very short statement about the specific project you are presenting.
- Bio: Often a short description of your career as an artist and your major accomplishments.
How Should I Write It?
- This most often depends on the context where it will appear. Who is your reader? What assumptions can you make about their knowledge?
- Emotional tone
- Theoretical (but not over-the-top)
- Academic (but not dry)
- Ask yourself “What are you trying to say in the work?” “What influences my work?” “How do my methods of working (techniques, style, formal decisions) support the content of my work?” “What are specific examples of this in my work” “Does this statement conjure up any images?”
- Use a word processor so that you can make changes and update it often. You should keep older copies so that you can refer to them if you should need to write or talk about your older work or if you have a retrospective.
- Refer to yourself in the first person, not as “the artist”. Make it come from you. Make it singular, not general, and reflective of yourself and your work.
- Make it clear and direct, concise and to the point.
- It should not be longer than one page.
- Use no smaller than 10 – 12 point type. Some people have trouble reading very small type.
- Artist’s statements are usually single-spaced.
- Do not use fancy fonts or tricky formatting. The information should wow them, not the graphic design.
- Who is your audience? What level are you writing for?
- What will your statement be used for?
- What does your statement say about you as an artist and a professional?
- Be honest.
- Try to capture your own speaking voice.
- Avoid repetition of phrases and words. Look for sentences that say the same thing you said before, but in a different way. Choose the better of the two.
- Vary sentence structure and length. The length of a sentence should relate to the complexity of the idea.
- Organization of detail is important. Significant ideas should be at the end of each sentence for emphasis.
Where Should It Go?
- In a binder at the front of the gallery with your résumé, list of artworks, and past reviews or articles about your work.
- You may want to hang it on the wall, regular size, or enlarged as a didactic statement.
- Include it in a program for performance, screening, or panel.
- In the application package of the grant you are applying for.
- Give to anyone who you feel would benefit from the information.
Example of a Music Artistic Statement
Bryce Richardson is a 2016-2017 recipient of the William R. Kenan, Jr. Excellence Scholarship program, the most prestigious scholarship program at the UNCSA.
Music Artist Statement
By Bryce Richardson
Contrary to widespread belief, I do not play oboe. I play the bassoon. A majestic, beautiful, unique bass double reed instrument with a sound like gold. I have been playing this instrument for almost seven years now and it has become a passion that I am more than excited to pursue throughout my college career and beyond. This instrument has also led me to find other interests in the wonderful world that is music and art as a whole.
I originally played upright bass. However, when I moved down to South Carolina, my middle school lacked a strings program. So I picked up an old, broken wooden pipe made in Czechoslovakia called a bassoon. I immediately was drawn to the instrument by the word bass in the name and, honestly, it was weird. Unfortunately, my school didn’t have a band program for 6th graders, so I came to school an hour earlier to learn to play the bassoon. I found out early on that this was for me and I began to connect to music. However, in those early years up into my freshman year of high school it was just a casual thing I did on the side. That soon changed when I began taking lessons as a sophomore and I began really learning how to play the bassoon. As a result, I auditioned and was accepted into the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities (SCGSAH). Entering the Governor’s School I knew I would become a better musician, but what I found was much more. It was here that I found my art.
The bassoon's part in the orchestra is one of the most diverse and, in my opinion, simply fun roles to play, with parts ranging from the simple supporting bass notes to the sonorous and expressive solos.
Like every classical musician, I long for opportunity to play in an incredible orchestra. I played principal bassoon in the Beaufort Youth Symphony Orchestra for t years and during my time at SCGSAH have been involved in many large ensembles. This is one of my favorite setting to play music. The bassoon's part in the orchestra is one of the most diverse and, in my opinion, simply fun roles to play, with parts ranging from the simple supporting bass notes to the sonorous and expressive solos. However, I have also found my voice in chamber music. The individuality and collaboration of a woodwind quintet makes playing chamber irresistibly enjoyable. Working on pieces in such an independent, intimate setting is such a rewarding process and one I’d like to consider myself at least adept at. I would be very musically satisfied playing in a chamber group as a future career. However, these are very classical, very “typical” careers for the average bassoonist. I strongly believe that the bassoon deserves a MUCH bigger, more prominent role as a modern musical instrument. While this thought almost puts me in physical pain, the bassoon is a highly underrated contemporary instrument. There is so much room for the bassoon to flourish in the 21st century musical environment that has yet to be tapped into! I love playing modern music and as an aspiring professional musician, I would definitely pursue playing in contemporary settings and hopefully commission more progressive pieces for the bassoon. Another nontraditional genre I’ve been considering immersing myself in, is jazz. Before you think to yourself, “the bassoon is not a jazz instrument!” search for Alexandre Silverio on YouTube. He is one of my favorite players and he’s doing great things for the modern bassoon. The Silverio quintet is a jazz combo that utilizes the bassoon as a melody instrument. And oh does it sound amazing! I contacted him asking for tips on entering this foreign world, and he sent me some jazz charts to help get started.
After I’ve established my classical playing to a higher level, I would love to begin studying in depth jazz bassoon. As a final side note on modern bassoon playing and myself as an artist, another idea I’d like to pursue is an independent music project. Recently a cellist came to SCGSAH sharing with us his “Music in Unfamiliar Spaces.” Basically, he plays where classical music is not typically performed, from coffee shops to beer breweries, with the idea of making art music more accessible to the uninvolved public. This project really struck a chord with me and I will be brainstorming an idea to explore through a music project in the near future.
Now this next paragraph is on a seemingly unrelated tangent but I feel I should share all of my future ideas as an artist and musician. Another (very unclassical) interest I have is in the production of electric music. Using a midi controller keyboard and various digital audio workstations, I create my own original electronic music. This is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding musical activities I’ve ever engaged in. Although I am still new to it and am eager to learn more, I feel as though this is something I would love to continue doing in my future. Learning how to use digital audio workstations has also lead me to other opportunities such as recording and editing audio. I am currently editing a recorded poem for submission to the Missouri Review’s annual audio contest. During this process I have found that I could potentially see myself doing this as a career. Similarly, I am also interested in filmmaking. I have worked with a few friends in creating short films and I feel as though I could really explore my artistic visions through this art form and being at a school where I am surrounded by talented filmmakers would allow me to pursue this interest further. On yet another final tangent, I also play the guitar, bass, ukulele, and saxophone and enjoy playing these instruments in various informal bands.