An artist statement and artist bio are vital pieces of writing for any artist—regardless of the medium in which you work.
A powerful and well-written artist statement can unlock opportunities for recognition across the globe, from Europe to Asia, to the Americas.
You will also need to have an artist statement and bio prepared for local applications. Submitting your art locally can serve as a great launching point, and help you to build name recognition in your community.
So: how do you write effective versions of these important statements?
In this article, we’re going to take you through some of the best practices for writing your artist statement, so that you can feel confident submitting your art wherever you feeled called to do so.
Let’s dig in.
What is an Artist Statement?
An artist’s statement is a general introduction to your body of work, or the particular project that you are submitting.
It should always be written in the first-person. That is, using the ‘I’ pronoun to describe your work.
An artist statement is not a moment for you to be pompous about your work or use technical jargon and complicated explanations.
Additionally, you shouldn’t use the artist statement as an opportunity to talk about why you are an artist. Because the statement should only be about 250 words, you’ll want to reserve the space to exclusively talk about your work.
Why you make art is not as interesting as what art you make.
There are two main methods that we recommend when taking on your artist statement:
- Write about your process. What is your process? How are you building your piece of art? What are your materials? How do you approach the project? This will teach your audience about the physicality of your art, and give them a more thorough idea of how it’s made.
- Make an analogy. Draw on inspirations from your own medium or other mediums to talk about how your art is participating in the conversation. This will demonstrate the messaging behind your work, and help to position your audience in the statement you are making with your art.
What is an Artist Biography?
An artist biography, similar to an artist statement, should be 250 words or less.
The artist biography differs, however, in that it should be written in the third person. That means referring to yourself through the use of your name and pronouns (e.g: Joe Smith was born in Manhattan, New York. He/she/they is a painter…)
With an artist biography, it’s important to stick to the facts. This is not the time to talk about the messaging behind your art as in the artist statement, but rather give your audience an understanding of you as an individual.
If you have awards or accolades under your belt, this is a good opportunity to mention those things.
Think of your biography like the back flap of an author’s book. It gives you an idea of the person’s career and achievements in a matter-of-fact manner.
Here are some things that you can consider including:
- Where you were born / grew up
- Where you live and work
- Art related education; degrees and influences
- Showing history
- Awards and personal achievements
- Media coverage
- Significant in-progress or upcoming projects / collaborations
Not all of these are going to apply to you. And that’s okay!
250 words is a small space. You’ll want to take some time working through what feels most significant to your life as an artist, and include those elements.
Finding a nugget that makes your life as an artist unique or interesting can be a way to stand out. Don’t overwhelm your bio with insignificant details or quirkiness; but don’t be afraid to include things that contribute to your narrative.
Other Helpful Suggestions
- Consider context. Especially when taking on your artist statement, consider your audience. Who is your reader? What knowledge do they have about the art medium you’re working in?
- Focus on the information. Avoid using flashy graphic design elements or unusual formatting. The content and information should wow your audience, not the medium in which it is presented.
- Use a proofreader. While your sentences may seem perfect to you, getting an extra pair of eyes on your artist statement and bio can ensure that any mistakes are corrected. Finding someone with art experience to look over it is the best case scenario, but any language-savvy person is beneficial.
- Be honest. Your audience can smell pretentiousness or trickiness easier than you may think. Authenticity demonstrates confidence, and better encapsulates your personality and speaking voice.
If you are an artist that wants to be taken seriously, you will have to write an artist statement and bio at some point in your career.
This document will be ever-changing. As an artist, you’re always morphing and growing, and your artist statement / bio can reflect that.
Both your artist statement and artist bio should be no longer than 250 words. Be direct and to the point, and avoid repeating things multiple times. This will make the text easier to read, and will be appreciated by your audience, who is likely sifting through many applications.
The how and what of the art you are make is more important than the why behind making it. Your audience is interested in the messaging and physicality behind your art, not your journey to becoming an artist.
Our artist archive is filled with authentic, creative, and talented artists sharing their art online. Visit their work for inspiration, and see how they’ve managed to build a career as an artist!