Why you need to explain your art

If you wanted to express yourself in writing, wouldn’t you be a writer instead? Explaining your art doesn’t need to be fancy and expressive. You’re not trying to add to your piece with the written or spoken word. You need to give a simple and basic explanation of your art. It is not a complex text about your innermost feelings that led you to produce your art. Any audience will have questions about your art, you probably want them to question it and unpick its meaning. Your artist’s statement will go a short way into telling people about your work.

What is an artist statement?

An artist’s statement is a short and simple text about your work. If you aren’t there to answer questions about your piece, or you simply don’t want to, your artist’s statement will allow people to access your art. You want people to know about your art and appreciate it, your artist’s statement will serve that purpose.

How do you write an artist statement?

Forget fancy language! Your statement is not art or poetry. You want to describe your work in the simplest of ways. This will make it more accessible to your audience. Probably, the people who are going to read it will be reading it because they have been drawn to your art and want to know more about it. They are likely already captivated by it and are seeking additional information to help them better appreciate it. Write for strangers – people that don’t know you or your art. You want to show new people that your art can mean something to them.

What about the structure and content of your artist statement?

You should write between 3 and 5 paragraphs using the first person. Don’t write about yourself in the third person as this will distance you from your art and your audience. Keep your statement simple. Complex language or intricate stories about your work might overload your audience and stop them reading. In terms of content, describe the visual characteristics and also the mood of the piece. Describe its colours and the feelings they evoke. Above all, it is a good idea to ask a friend how your work makes them feel. This will put you into the mindset of your audience.

What about public speaking?

It can be quiet daunting for an artist to speak publically about their work. After all, you spend a lot of time alone thinking and creating. If you need to talk about your art publically, you can make your talk really interesting by following a few tips:
Begin with a story that will lead into your piece, perhaps something that influenced its creation.
Describe the thought processes you had when coming up with the design.

Describe your piece simply and succinctly

Be relatable and honest.
Rehearse lots. It’s a good idea to video yourself so you can watch how you come across.
Anticipate questions – as well as rehearsing your speech, rehearse how you might answer some questions that may get asked.

One last tip…

Learn from others! If you’re worried about where to start an artist statement or a speech, search out others and see what they do. If you can’t get out to see other artists talk about their work, you will find plenty online. Good luck!

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