Understanding Your Story as an Artist

By Steff Metal in Art Business Advice > General Art Advice

What’s your story?

Perhaps that’s not a question you’ve heard a lot as an artist. Perhaps you think it’s a silly question. Perhaps you think your story is obvious—visible in your work.

The truth is, collectors and fans want more than just the artwork. They want to know you, the artist who created something that resonated with them. Collectors don’t just buy art because they like a piece, they also buy into the artist who made it.

Many of your collectors are highly creative people. That’s why they’re drawn to art. They crave a connection with you. . . a way to understand deeper meaning in the art they surround themselves with. That’s why your story is such an important part of your marketing—because it connects you to your audience.

What is your story as an artist?

Your story isn’t your resume or your official biography. It isn’t a list of the galleries who’ve exhibited your or the clients that have hired you. You can put your story IN some of those things, but it goes much deeper than that.

Your story is about your inspiration, your struggles, your triumphs, your losses and your message.

Think about your life and how it has shaped the artist you’ve become. Think about how much of yourself is in your artwork, and how you can bring that story to life for your audience with words. How will your audience connect emotionally with your pieces? Think of how you were feeling when you created a piece—it’s that emotion that you want to get into the story of each piece.

Even artists like me who focus on illustration or graphics pour ourselves into our work. In my pieces you can see caricatures of the things I’m passionate about. I try to paint subjects that will cheer people up, and make them smile, because I believe wholeheartedly that those are the moments you want to remember in life.

How do you share your story as an artist?

There are many ways you can share your story with your collectors and those who are interested in your work. As long as you know what your story is, you can put it into any of the following:

Your work – Each piece you create offers you another chance to go deeper, and share with a wider audience. When you build your website, or design your gallery cards, think about ways to bring the story of each artwork to the forefront.

Your artist bio – Focus on creating a biography that talks less about your resume, and more about who you are and why you do what you do.

Your artist statement – This document should describe the overarching concept behind your art—your message and your vision. Infuse it with your own personality to really connect with viewers.

Your blog – A blog can be a great way for artists to share more of themselves with their audience, in a way that gives total control over the words they write and the people who can respond to them (by moderating comments, etc).

Your voice – You may have the opportunity to speak at a gallery opening, workshop, or other event. This is a great time to talk about your story, and what your art means to you. And always remember that speaking from the heart is much more effective than saying what you THINK people want to hear.

Every artist’s story will be different, but it will be there. It’s inside you, ready and waiting to be shared. Don’t hide it—bring it to your audience, and let them see deeper into you and your art.

So tell me. What’s your story?


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