This article is the third of a three part series on how to write your “About” page. The three articles may be found at:
- Writing an “about” page 1
- Writing your about page 2 – the bio
- Writing your about page 3 – the statement
The dreaded statement. The thing everyone needs to have but hates to have to write.
So first of all, what is a statement and why do I need one?
You are a visual artist and you create pieces of visual art. There is a reason that you create art and there is a reason you create the specific pieces you create. Your (prospective) patrons want to know this. They want to understand that what they are not seeing is random. They want to be reassured that what they (think they) see is what you meant or alternatively they may be pleased to be challenged to know that you saw or felt other things that they hadn’t considered.
Your statement helps people connect to your art. You may understand your art but other people probably won’t if you don’t put it in words and explain it to them.
So how does a visual artist go about writing a statement? Carly Clements wrote a very good article on WetCanvas that I used as my basis the first time I did this.
Carly suggests that you are trying to convey the answers to four questions and I think this is definitely a good starting point:
- Who am I?
- Why do I make my art?
- How do I make my art?
- What does it mean to me?
Keep those in mind. However the most important question you want to address is “what will somebody want to ask me when they look at my art?”
The basic ground rules are:
- Don’t tell people what they should feel or think. Tell them what you feel and think.
- Don’t blind them with buzz words and professional terminology. Speak straight.
- Don’t make up stuff because it sounds good. Be true to yourself.
- Don’t compare yourself to other great artists or add testimonials. Leave that to the art critics.
You may want to put this off indefinitely but don’t. Start thinking about this in advance and stsrt thinking about what you are going to write. Jot down ideas and don’t try to do it all at once as you may end up with writer’s block. Try to answer the following questions:
- Why do I paint?
- What is it that I paint?
- Why do I paint that?
- How do I select my subjects?
- What is similar about my work?
- Why do I use the medium/technique that I use?
- What do my paintings say/mean to me?
- Is there something I am trying to say through my art?
- Am I exploring or experimenting with something?
- What do I want my viewers to know about my work?
Each question may have several answers and some may be hard to answer. As I said, give it time and write down whatever you think other a period of time.
When you think you have enough, then you are ready to write.
Like anything, the statement should have a beginning a middle and an end. You will need to look at the material you have collected and arrange it into a logical sequence. Try to organize it into logical groupings and cut out things that repeat. Note where there was repetition, because it might pinpoint for you the things that are important.
My statement follows the plan of moving from me to my subjects to the painting process. Yours may be different, but think back to original four questions. These are your goal. Are you answering the questions and if not can you justify it?
My statement doesn’t mention the “how” because I put that in the bio instead. If I had an amazingly unique technique and it is something that the viewer will be wondering about then this would be wrong. In my case I reckoned that this is not what somebody would necessarily ask me when they saw my pictures.
Don’t hurry the writing and don’t let yourself get frustrated. Come back to your text again and again until you are happy and get second opinions from friends and peers. Eventually you will have something you are more or less happy with and then you can start planning your next version…