April 30, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Guidelines for Your Artist Statement

I’ve been dedicating this blog and my podcast to what you can do now—actions you can take—to stay in control of your art business while galleries, studios, and exhibition venues are shuttered. While art fairs, festivals, and open studios are canceled.

In this episode I want to talk about a document you can revisit (or perhaps face for the first time) that gives you power (control) over how your art is perceived.

Yes, I’m talking about your artist statement.

©Nancy Bass, At the Museum (after Hopper). Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 x 1.5 inches. Used with permission.

Don’t be scared! This is important. And if you don’t want to listen, you can read every word at YourArtistStatement.com.

This pandemic has caused so many people to be introspective. If you're one of them, you might want to put this time to good use and work on your statement, regardless of whether you're updating it, rewriting it, or facing it for the first time.

There's no way around it if you want to show your art at a high level. When you want to become part of the critical discourse—to have others consider your work for venues, grants, residencies, and articles—you can't neglect writing your artist statement.

Listen Now


Music by Wildermiss.

Highlights

  • My definition of an artist statement (3:00)
  • Why you need a statement (3:40)
  • Collecting words that contribute to your artist statement (6:40)
  • Journaling prompts for your statement (8:00)
  • Guidelines for artist statements and what tense to use (11:30)
  • The ultimate test for a successful artist statement (15:00)
  • How to write your first draft (16:55)
  • What to look for (and delete) in the editing process (17:50)
  • How and where to use your statement (22:10)
  • What to do when instructions don't match what you've heard here (24:44)

Mentioned


Music by Wildermiss.

Recommended: Magnetic You | Art Biz Success

This episode is brought to you by my Art Career Success System. It’s a year-long business training program designed for serious, ambitious artists. When you do the work in the courses, you’ll have a strong foundation on which to build a successful art business.

You will also have an artist statement you can be proud of. That’s because the Art Career Success System is divided into 4 self-contained courses. In the one called Magnetic You, I walk you through a process for not only writing your artist statement, but also writing other marketing material you need and clarifying your visual branding. All of the lessons (about 40 per course) are bite-sized videos (usually under 10 minutes) that you can sneak into pockets of your busy day.

If, during this pandemic, you have the time to work on your art business or if you feel it’s important to make the time visit ArtCareerSuccessSystem.com for the details.

12 comments add a comment
  • Linda Burchill

    Great video, Alyson! Voice clarity and logical order made it very easy to follow. I also really liked the “Table of Contents” included with their time denotations. I have done a few artist statements for others and have done a couple for myself. I’m going to look at mine with these points in mind and do a re-vamp. An update is definitely due.

    I don’t have a website yet, but it has been on my mind a lot lately, as I believe that my art has turned a corner. I need to ramp it up, for sure! I’ll be looking through your resources for information on considerations about how to make an outstanding website that looks professional but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

    Thank you very much.

    • Alyson Stanfield

      You can do it, Linda! A lot of my clients use SquareSpace or FASO for their artist sites. They’re very happy with them. Thanks for listening.

  • This was excellent. Thank you for sharing your experience and clear point of view. I appreciate your dedication to artists.

    • Alyson Stanfield

      Patty: Aw, you’re welcome. I’m happy that you found value in what I shared.

  • Excellent podcast, Alyson! Loved it! Your guidelines are simple, straightforward, and informational. I modified my artist statement just around the beginning of this year. After listening to this episode, I am going to revisit my statement, and probably after a few revisions, I know I will get there. Thank You!

    • Alyson Stanfield

      Vidya: It’s a constant process, as I said in the video. The “there” you’re going to is always a moving target. Just do your best for the moment and update as needed.

  • Thanks, Alyson! As someone who has more experience with non art related startups, it’s interesting to think about how my artrepreneur clients should approach this. Great.

  • Hi Alyson,
    Just discovered your podcast – so glad I did! This particular post is very helpful. I have a question maybe you can help with. How do you write a proposal for an art show in a gallery? What is the difference between an artist statement and a proposal? Perhaps you’ve already written about this on your site?
    Thanks so much,
    Marta

    • Alyson Stanfield

      Hi, Marta. Thanks so much for listening. In response to your questions, here are a couple of resources for you in case they would be helpful because your questions are quite involved. They are difficult to answer in a short comment.

      I have a series of lessons about galleries and exhibitions in the Art Biz Accelerator. In particular, it’s important to know the difference between seeking gallery representation and showing in a gallery space.

      I hope you read all of the info at YourArtistStatement.com (or listened to the podcast) and better understand the difference. We go into depth on artist statements in my course, Magnetic You.

    • Alyson Stanfield

      Also, your work is wonderful. Did you really get through undergraduate school without having to write an artist statement? (I have a real beef with art schools who send artists out into the wild without this knowledge.)

  • Thank you so much for your reply, Alyson. I will check out the resources you mentioned. Thanks for your kind words about my work. Yes, I did write artist statements in undergrad (but never a proposal) however, it’s been a long time so I feel like I’m starting from scratch.

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