Friends and I were reminiscing about Gilligan’s Island last week when I revealed too much about my TV-watching habits as a child.
Remember how the castaways on that series made everything from coconuts?
The Professor fashioned a radio and battery charger from coconuts. Why, oh why, couldn’t he make coconut glue and repair a boat to get them off the island???
Maryann was famous for her coconut cream pie.
Everyone drank out of coconut shells, which also became vessels for almost anything imaginable.
Coconuts sustained all of the survivors of the S.S. Minnow. Though they grew weary of coconut-this and coconut-that, they wouldn’t have survived without this fruit.
Your artist statement is like a coconut. Bear with me here.
The deliberate process of articulating your work will sustain you just as the coconuts sustained Gilligan and crew.
You don’t write an artist statement just because someone asked for you to submit one.
You write an artist statement because you are in charge of your art career.
You know that if you don’t talk about your art, someone else will and perhaps not in a way you appreciate.
Once you have a statement you’re proud of, it will sustain you. You will use it for everything.
Of course you can’t use it to make tropical drinks, but you will use your artist statement in the following situations:
- On your website.
I prefer statements next to the art, where they make sense, and not on a separate page by themselves.
- In a brochure.
There’s no need to put the headline “Artist Statement” in a marketing piece intended for the general public because most people have no idea what that means. They will read it as more information about your art, which is just what you want them to do.
- As the skeleton for a section of your grant application.
- As the outline for your artist talk.
You only need a few sentences to build an entire talk around. The talk could be at an exhibition opening, for a private group, or on a video you post to YouTube.
- Pull out your best sentence to use in your signature block and on your business card.
Your Statement Is Too Important To Be Half-Baked
The words you crafted three years ago are insufficient for the work you’re doing today.
The bottom line is that you need to nail your artist statement. And keep nailing it.
Articulating your art – giving it the consideration it deserves – should be a priority. It’s not just the final product that will be of benefit. It’s the process you work through to get to it.
Don’t wait until a coconut bonks you on the noggin to see the light.