How Your Artist Statement Can Engage More Eyeballs

In I’d Rather Be in the Studio I lay out guidelines for your artist statement, where I say that my litmus test for an effective artist statement is that it compels people to look at your art.

Think about it: What good is your statement if people only read it and then move on to the next label, the next statement, the next page, or the next artist?

Reading about the artist, but did they look at the work after this photo was taken? Photo credit unknown.

Gallery-goers reading about the artist, but did they look at the work after they finished reading the wall label?

You want more eyeballs on the art!

If you’re not using your statement as a way to engage viewers with the art, you’re missing an opportunity.

Most people do not have a visual education. They are not taught how to look at and appreciate art. Your statement can do this job without being too elementary or condescending.

Every time you teach people how to look at your art, you empower them. You give them confidence to spend more time with the work and to go to a deeper level.

Artist Statement Examples

These are excerpts from artist statements that can be found on their sites. See how they direct you back to the work.

I incorporate the art of blacksmithing in my pieces to give them eye appealing embellishments: the handmade scrolls on the bodice of a dress, the butterflies on a hat, or the crossed fingers of hand behind a woman’s back.Victoria Ross Patti

  • Look for scrolls, butterflies, and other details.

Every painting starts with a grid. The vertical and horizontal lines calm my active brain and provide a structure on which to work.Dora Ficher

  • Look for the structure of the grid.

I fabricate with steel from old tin cans, toys and signs and also use them as a source for color, images, and text.  These utilitarian objects have their own histories that speak to the passage of time seen through fading paint, scratches and rust.Marlene True

  • Look for recognizable tin and worn surfaces.

Do you have a similar example from your statement? I invite you to leave an excerpt and a link to the entire statement in a comment here.

 

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20 comments to How Your Artist Statement Can Engage More Eyeballs

  • Here is an excerpt from of recent show, (scroll down a bit on the site);
    “The brush glides, making true marks playful and abstract, scribing a universal language or elements of sacred geometry.”
    http://www.kathleen-obrien.com/exhibits.html
    Alyson, your “Relatively Pain Free Artist Statement” was very helpful.

  • Hi Alyson,

    Your article compels me to go read my artist’s statement and improve it.

    I have read lots of words about creating artist statements, but today’s post explained it in a manner that I understand. The proverbial little light went on in my head.

    Thanks!

  • Dee

    Good morning! I think sometimes Twitter’s bio area, since it is limited in text, is good practice for making a statement.

  • Hi Alyson,

    So much of what you say resonates inside my head when I attempt to do just about anything to do with art. I will take another look at my artist’s statement. I’ve been massively helped in talking to clients realizing what you said about it being the artist’s job to explain the art to the collector. Artists get so frustrated by non-artists questions and comments, but I no longer do. That advice totally flipped the whole point of client/artist interactions on its head. Thank you again.

    XO Barbara

  • Anita Jesse

    Your recent remarks on the artist’s statement have opened my eyes and changed so much for me. Thank you for the invaluable posts.

    • Thanks, Anita. What was most helpful for you?

      • Anita Jesse

        Quite some time ago, I “got it” that I needed an artist’s statement and I continued to work at refining it. Still, I felt a little as if I had finished an assignment for the instructor. And only recently had mine become somewhat more meaningful—still not there.

        The difference is that finally the real “why” of the statement is more clear, and I am optimistic about improving mine. Now it is obvious to me that part of the joy in creating is sharing not only with visuals, but using words to gently guide the viewer’s eye. For example, I noticed that when writing a description of a piece for my newsletter (after reading this post) I found words that weren’t there for me before. Having a clear purpose made a big difference.

        I appreciate all you give so freely.

  • I have a general artist statement that is somewhat succinct and explains my overall body of work. I also have artist statements for specific bodies of work, that act as a narrative in conjunction with the conceptual, political and social nature of the projects. Feel free to check them out at sonnyassu.com

  • rouge

    You inspired me to recreate my artist statement… still now sure how I feel about it but here iss a link.

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2Sc5NqBpsFMSTZWOTZyM1ZwSnc/edit?usp=sharing

  • rouge

    let me know what you think

  • rouge

    You think its decent?

  • rouge

    hahahah, wow. alright then. good luck with all your endeavours.

  • Tom

    Hi Alyson,
    I have an exhibition on at the moment. I’ve had various people comment on the paintings, then read my statement (on the back of an A5 card, the front has 4 painting images on) and they definitely will go back for a second look, and usually make the point that they really understand what I’m getting at in my statement.

    For myself my statement comments predominantly on how I like to focus on capturing the light, what ever the subject….

    It seems some people ‘get’ this straight off, then reading about it confirms this for them……on the other hand I’ve noticed a lot of people say they love certain paintings but they’re not quite sure why, then after reading my statement I often get comments along the lines of ‘ar yes, I see that now, I think it’s the lighting in it that I really like’…..it seems to re-engage people with the work and give a much better understanding of the work, and almost a new appreciation for certain paintings…..

    This is not to say my statement isn’t well due a revamp and serious over haul but I would say your article is spot on (not that I would doubt it:) as I’ve just begun to notice it first hand and am beginning to see how important it is.

    Thank you for the article, I’ve become much more aware of how people are looking at my work as a result:)!!