How to Write a Good Artist Statement and/or Resume

Published Dec. 15th 2006


typewriter-keys

This week’s tutorial will take you through the process of writing your artist’s statement, and lay out some basic guidelines for writing your resume as well.

Let’s begin with the artist’s statement.

Your primary focus should be to increase the reader’s interest in your art, which usually means helping them understand the reasoning behind your art as well as some of the methods you used to create it.

It’s best to think about your artist’s statement like a one-way conversation and write using words like “I” and “my” as you talk about yourself and your work.

You’ll want to begin your first paragraph with a broad statement that gives either your perspective on art or your personal philosophy behind creating art. This should encompass most or all of the work you’ve made, not just the art you‘re currently exhibiting.

You might also mention what first inspired you to be an artist, what your grandest goals are as an artist, or even some themes that continually run through your art.

In the second paragraph, write a few sentences about how you make your art. Focus on the process you used for the pieces you‘re displaying, while pointing out what makes your methods different and how your creative process is evolving.

Use this opportunity to show how unique your art is, but make sure to keep it understandable for people who aren’t artists, too.

In the last paragraph, make some specific comments on the current works you’re displaying. Give more details into the meaning behind your art, even pointing out one or two pieces in particular.

This is your chance to explain any metaphors or hidden meanings in your work so viewers can go back to your art with a better understanding of your intent.

If you haven’t already, let the reader know what inspired you to create this specific collection and then finish up by mentioning what you see – or feel – when you look through it.

That’s all there is to it. You can make it a bit longer than three paragraphs if you like, but keep it to one page. It’s just an introduction to your art, after all, not a thesis paper.

Some things to remember:

Artist’s statements are not meant to be biographical, so don’t include details from your life (like when you were born or where you went to school) unless it directly relates to why or how you create your art.

Also, awards and recognitions already have a place in your resume, so there’s no need to mention them in your artist’s statement.

When your statement is complete, make sure to have several people read it and give you their opinion on what you should change. Find someone qualified who can edit it for spelling mistakes or who is even willing to re-write it in a clearer manner, if you think it needs that.

The final result should be short, to the point, and easy to read. You shouldn’t have to “dumb down” how you write, but there’s also no need to pull out a dictionary or thesaurus to find longer, more “intellectual” words.

When it comes to writing your résumé, simple and clean is all that’s required – the standard format is to organize your résumé into sections using numbered headers and indented lists.

The sections you need to include are:

1. Your Name
(Include all your contact information underneath)

2. Education
(List the degrees you’ve earned, by most important first)

3. Awards
(Any honors, awards, or grants go in this category)

4. Exhibitions
(List solo and group shows, and include the city and state where each one was held)

5. Bibliography
(Write down any newspaper articles, interviews, TV or radio appearances, etc.)

6. Representation
(If you have gallery representation, make sure to list it here)

You may wish to add a section for commissioned pieces you’ve done, or artwork in private or public collections. It’s also common to separate your exhibition section into Solo Shows and Group Shows.

A résumé is an absolute must for establishing credibility when approaching galleries. Using an outline like the one I’ve listed will work quite well when paired with a clearly written artist’s statement.

To find more information on résumé writing, visit www.collegeart.org/guidelines/resume.

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