I read a lot of artist statements. “Read” is a generous word. Mostly, I endure them.
I know you know what I’m talking about.
In my e-book The Relatively Pain-Free Artist Statement (no longer available), I help you craft your statement through a journaling process. But once it’s written, you have to edit it.
Here are 5 things to look out for in the editing process.
1. Don’t say your art is unique.
“Unique” doesn’t mean anything and, odds are, your work isn’t. Almost all art is
derivative of informed by other work and anyone who knows art history can point to an artist who did it first place your art in that context.
But your work does have qualities that make it yours rather than someone else’s. Instead of using the word “unique,” describe your work in a way that makes the reader think it’s unique.
2. Remove the things that every artist says.
I see these phrases in so many statements that they put me straight to sleep. Do NOT use these in any version in your statement.
- I am excited by . . .
- I’ve always been an artist
- I have to make art
- My work is about the human condition
And my favorite phrase to eliminate in a statement . . .
- I love . . .
3. Beware of redundancy.
Say it one way and move on. Don’t drag it out and duplicate the same meaning in a new sentence. Don’t make me be redundant by going any further with this warning.
4. Get rid of the lists.
One of the things I see in artist statements that makes me want to take a delete key to them is the overuse of adjectives. Lists of descriptors are a rampant virus in artist statements. Get rid of them!
If you have more than 2 commas in your statement, ask yourself what can be eliminated.
5. Reduce the number of personal pronouns.
You don’t need all of those I/me/my/mine/myself words in there. Really! I challenge you to get rid of most of them.
If you can clean up these 5 things, I promise you’ll have a more potent artist statement.
What trips you up about writing your artist statement?