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Marisa D. Aceves. Pigment Cascade 1. digital photography

article by Marisa D. Aceves

We all love creating our artwork.

When we get a new idea that we just can’t wait to flesh out, we race to our studios with sparkling eyes and child-like enthusiasm, but while we’re content to lose ourselves in the creative process, we may or may not always feel the same when assigned the task of writing about our art.

Why is writing about what we love to do so intimidating?

Could it be that many of us share a common tendency to compare the quality of our thoughts and words to those of   popular art magazines or perhaps the works of award winning authors we were forced to read in school (ex. Hemingway and Malamud)that leave us tossing our laptops and tablets in disgust at out perceived  lack of literary genius?

Of course we could always make the excuse that we were too busy in our studios to write about our work…

…and maybe that might be partially true…but…

…no matter how much we procrastinate, ultimately we will have to provide some explanation for why we create, even if the real reason is as uncomplicated as “I felt like it!”.

If you are one of a number of artists who subtly fears the writing process, don’t fret over words.

Make them work for you.

Here are some suggestions for cutting through the confusion and getting to the meat of your artistic message.

1) Give A Little History –  Inquiring people are anxious to know how, when and why you became an artist.

Some artists’ route to creativity is traditional while others “fall into” their art practice by first participating in some other activity.

Include this distinction in the course of writing about your work.

If you are an artist which has a background in other fields of expertise and you apply this experience to your art, explain how this adds to your unique approach and perspective.

Artists who have undertaken a more traditional, well-traveled route to their artistic development may want to share what subjects, events etc. that inspired them or that continue to inspire their creations.

2) Write About Your Work Often – Practice removes the “intimidation factor” from your writing.

Sure, it’s a little scary, but then again, if you are still learning, you’re always new at something.

Set aside time in the day or week to write down your thoughts and feelings about your work.

Create a schedule that you know is easy to keep.

3) Write in Small Increments – Sitting yourself down to write for an hour or two can lead to procrastination as you sit there tapping pencil to paper waiting for the words to flow.

 If you know that you freeze when forced with a long, drawn out job, you may want to spread the work out and do things in between writing.

This eases you anxiety and helps you to collect you thoughts.

4) Observe the Writing of Others – 

I think the best way to learn how to write about art is to familiarize yourself with the way fellow professional artists write about their work and the work of others.

When observing articles artist write about other artists, consider these questions:

 a) Do they include background information about the artist before describing what they do?

 b) Do they include where the artist lives and works, their specialty (photography, painting, sculpture, installation etc.?

 c) Do they mention the artists level of education, awards and experience?

 d) Do they mention what is unique about the artists’ work?

Once you learn to break down art articles into bits of information, the easier and less intimidating it will be to write about your own.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you study the artist statements of others:

1) What is their work about?

2) What is their particular discipline (photography, painting, sculpture, installation etc.)?

3) Why do they create their work?

4) What are they trying to say with their work?

As you read their statements make sure to answer the questions mentioned above.

When you are finished you will have a rough map of the type of information that you will need to include in your own statement.

You can learn to write about your own art, or defer to others who may or may not truly understand your vision.

Be pro-active; don’t let the meaning of your art get lost in translation.

I am hopeful that over time, you will continue to grow and improve your communication with your audience.

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2 thoughts on “Why You Don’t Have To Be Ernest Hemingway To Write About Your Art

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