I’ve interviewed a few photographers for this post and I quickly came to the conclusion that most photographers a) have never written an artist statement or b) really…. REALLY hate writing them. Why? Because most artists visual thinkers. It’s hard for photographers to put their creative process, philosophy, vision and passion into words .
In this post, we share some tips on developing your artist statement. Specifically, why you should have one, where you will use one and how to write one.
What is an artist’s statement?
The artist’s statement is an effective marketing tool that connects the photographer with their audience. An artist’s statement is not a resume, a biography, a list of accomplishments and awards or a summary of exhibitions or a catalogue of works.
It’s a short document written to provide a window into the photographer’s world. It enlightens and engages – giving the audience, (potential buyers), an understanding of you and your motivation behind your work. It can be insight into a single photo or a collection of photographs. The important thing to remember is… it’s a living document that can change because you change.
Why should you write an artist’s statement?
People who love a photographers’ work generally want to know more about the photographer. Your statement will help your viewers answer questions they may have about you. When viewers have answers, their delight in what you shoot increases, and they have more reasons to take your photographs home with them.
Here are a few questions you can answer to help craft one:
- Why do you create the photographs you do and what does it mean to you?
- How does the creation of your work make you feel? What emotions do you wish to convey?
- If the statement refers to a specific photo or series, why did you choose to represent this photo in this way? What do you call the photo and why?
- What inspires you? How are your inspirations expressed in your work?
- What message are you trying to convey to the viewer?
- How is your work a reflection of you?
- What artists (living or dead) have influenced you?
- What is your vision/philosophy?
- What are your goals for the future?
- What are your techniques and style and how do these relate?
- How do your techniques and style relate to your vision/philosophy?
How long should my artist statement be?
The key here is to express how you feel and create a statement that stands on its own and represents your work. Remember that people usually don’t have the patience to spend a lot of time reading, so it’s better to err on the shorter side. One to three paragraphs – at most.
What kind of language should I use?
Keep your statement clear and concise. Avoid flowery language and “art-speak”. This only lengthens and weakens your statement. Use language that is comfortable to you, and let your words flow. Don’t be technical. Readers won’t care what equipment or post processing software you use. Leave details about tour gear out of it.
You’re an artist at heart, so some specific terms you may wish to mention in your statement are the elements of art (line, colour, shape, value, space, form, and texture), and the principles of design (balance, emphasis, movement, harmony/unity, pattern, rhythm, proportion, and variety). Source: How to Write an Artist’s Statement by: Melissa Wotherspoon
We started out by crafting press releases for Ottawa business fifteen years ago. Today we write artist statements and PR plans for Ottawa’s most talented photographers. From experience and a marketing perspective, the more you can relate to your audience, the better your chances are of selling your work.
Where and when will I use it?
This is a common question I get, (a lot). Here’s several instances where you artist statement will come in handy…
Where will you use it?
- In an exhibition
- In conjunction with your biography
- As a boiler plate in a news releases
- In your brochures and/or printed marketing materials
- On your blog, website and social media
When you will you use it?
- Approaching a gallery with an exhibition proposal
- Entry Form for Competitions
- Introducing yourself to potential buyers
- Public speaking and networking opportunities as your verbal introduction
- Talking to clients at a private view
- Sales presentation by an agent
- Publications writing about your work
- Pitch to agencies
Want to be featured?
We’ll be featuring some of Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers in upcoming Q&A style blog posts. Want to be featured? Contact us with the words “Blog feature” in the subject of your email.
About the Author
Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, exclusive PR firm & marketing agent to Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers. Learn more and connect at www.storylinepr.ca