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Something I saw on Seth Godin’s site today. Puremedia is a web design company with a one page web site. To tell the truth, they’re cheating because they have a link to their old site which has the full story and portfolio, but the idea is still there.

Can you make your statement clearly in one page? If you are good, do you really need any more?

It’s a bit like the idea I wrote about a while back that if you are really good you don’t need to write a CV because your reputation will speak for you. Here is a bit different. I think that what they are doing is going for the teaser approach – “We are cool, so cool that anything we say about us would not be cool enough. Try us.”

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This article is the third of a three part series on how to write your “About” page. The three articles may be found at:


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.

Another great statement primer is on ArtBusiness.com which is a site full of down to earth articles that I would recommend any artist to read.

Carly suggests that you are trying to convey the answers to four questions and I think this is definitely a good starting point:

  1. Who am I?
  2. Why do I make my art?
  3. How do I make my art?
  4. 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 rules

The basic ground rules are:

  1. Don’t tell people what they should feel or think. Tell them what you feel and think.
  2. Don’t blind them with buzz words and professional terminology. Speak straight.
  3. Don’t make up stuff because it sounds good. Be true to yourself.
  4. Don’t compare yourself to other great artists or add testimonials. Leave that to the art critics.

Preparation

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:

  1. Why do I paint?
  2. What is it that I paint?
  3. Why do I paint that?
  4. How do I select my subjects?
  5. What is similar about my work?
  6. Why do I use the medium/technique that I use?
  7. What do my paintings say/mean to me?
  8. Is there something I am trying to say through my art?
  9. Am I exploring or experimenting with something?
  10. 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.

The statement

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…

 

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This article is the second of a three part series on how to write your “About” page. The three articles may be found at:


To recap, your about page should contain three things:

  1. Something about you (a.k.a. your “bio”)
  2. Something about your work (a.k.a. you “statement”)
  3. How to contact you

BTW, you may well want to have a “contact” page (I do) as well as your contact details on the site, as people expect to see a contact link on a site. I recently saw an article by Clint Watson on his blog where he suggested having your contact info on every page. This may be a good idea, but on the other hand it could cause clutter so I’m not sure about that one.

Anyway, to get back to our subject; what goes in the bio. Your bio (in my opinion) is not your CV. It is not the place to list your education, employment and all in meticlous detail. People do not read on the web, they skim and therefore if you want people to read what you have to say, then you need to package it the way they are most likely to read it. BTW, read those links, Jakob Nielsen is a world renowned expert on web usability.

My opinion of the bio is that it needs to include the kind of things that will engage your reader and inform him so that he will actually go away knowing something about who you are. What I tell in my bio is a bit of history so that the reader will know a bit about where I am coming from and some facts that will help him relate to the person that I am.

All of this you need to tell in a readable way. Speak in the third person about yourself and throw your name in liberally so that they will remember it. Don’t be afraid to praise yourself – you are writing in thrid person so you are pretending to be a fan writing about you. However don’t go too overboard or you will lose credibility.

The exception is if you are writing a bio for your blog. In this case you do need to write in first person as your blog is your personal diary and not something someone else is writing about you. Then you do need to take the self-praises out.

A photo is the ultimate “get to know you” although of sourse it doesn’t say much. However make sure you have one or noone will ever know if you are a real person.

Finally you do need to make a list of relevant achievements and where your work is displayed and for sale. However tidy it away from the bio so that a reader who is looking for this will be able to find it, but the average browser doesn’t have to wade through it. I put my representation and exhibitions at the bottom of the page after the “about my work” = “statement”.

Put navigation links at the top of the page and put headings on the sections so that the reader who comes to the page can see what to expect and can jump to the relevant section.

 

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This article is first of a three part series on how to write your “About” page. The three articles may be found at:

 

I just spent some time yesterday updating the about page on my site with new text and a new photo. I also updated the about page on this blog (see “about” tab above) with the photo and a slightly cut down version of the same text.

The reason I made this update is in order to get my texts in synch with each other and with the new “about” text that I am sending out as part of the publicity for my upcoming exhibition at Nofim Gallery on 3-15 July.

Anyway…

So this brought me round to the subject of writing an “about” page and how it’s done. First of all, I shouldn’t need to mention how important the “about” page is. If you don’t have one then nobody will know anything about you. Obvious? As I said, I shouldn’t need to mention it.

So what do you put on the page:

  1. Something about you (a.k.a. your “bio”)
  2. Something about your work (a.k.a. you “statement”)
  3. How to contact you

In this post I will just add a few words on goals. Your website is your marketing tool whether you actively sell from it or not. It is where you sell your brand. Your bio and statement are there to help establish the personality of your brand.

You want to do the following:

  1. Real people are credible. You want to boost your credibility by explaining who you are.
  2. You want to establish your brand and make it attractive.
  3. You want people to understand what you are doing and identify with it.
  4. You want to give them something to talk about.

In the next two posts I will cover what I think should go in your bio and statement, and a bit about how to go about writing them.

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I just got listed on the Artists Blog Search. This is a useful site which uses a Google custom search to search listed artist blogs. If your blog isn’t there then you can drop them an email and get yourself listed. Sure can’t do any harm.

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Seth Godin published a piece today with this name. His thesis is that if you are really as good as you reckon you are (the assumption is that you do) then there is no need to write a resume. The facts will speak for themselves. He suggests that instead of a resume you should have one of the following:

How about three extraordinary letters of recommendation from people the employer knows or respects?
Or a sophisticated project they can see or touch?
Or a reputation that precedes you?
Or a blog that is so compelling and insightful that they have no choice but to follow up?

I got my first programming job only because of my online portfolio. I had a resume which basically said that I had no experience, but I had a website that I had created with these cool Java applets I wrote.

BTW, I took the site down a short while back because it was coming up too high in searches and I didn’t want it to damage my branding. This is what I turned up at web.archive.org.

A resume  is your marketing blurb that you give to people who don’t know you yet. Yes, it is true that if your are a recognized brand then you don’t need to explain to people why they need to hire you – a business card with your name on is enough. However I think that Seth is exagerating. In any other case you need to market yourself.

After reading too many resumes while interviewing people for my software development team, I can say that most resumes don’t market the candidate just list his personal and /or professional history. It’s all in the wording and the presentation. However I reckon that anyone less than a world famous guru needs to have one – but a well-written compelling one.

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I saw this blog post today where she highlights this humorous but serious article about obfuscation that appeared in The Journal of Political Economy (not something I would have read generally). This is how many scientists, economists and experts work and nobody knows what they are talking about. When talking about art there is also a tendency to talk in big words and intimidate the audience. If you want to sell your art you need to learn to avoid this and engage your buyers.

A whole lot of good articles on this can be found at artbusiness.com. They have several articles on exactly this subject, for example “people need help buying art so help them”.

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