Marisa D. Aceves. Penscape 1. Digital Photography. 2016.
To view more of my work, please visit acevesart.com.
Article by Marisa D. Aceves
Every artist knows.
Creativity equals happiness.
When you get a new idea, you race to your studio with sparkling eyes and child-like enthusiasm.
Then, you read dozens of art marketing articles telling you to write an artist statement for your website.
People, galleries, and your art-loving aunt need to know why you do what you do.
There’s only one problem.
You’re not sure how to write about your art.
You start to begin, but the inevitable happens.
The joy fades.
Your story seems far away.
Why is writing about what you love to do so intimidating?
If the thought of captivating your future collectors makes you succumb to writers’ block and toss your laptop out the window in disgust, you’re not alone.
Let me share with you a simple truth that many artists and creative business owners fail to realize:
You don’t have to be Ernest Hemingway to write about your art.
Learning to craft a compelling story isn’t child’s play.
It takes practice, dedication, and a healthy dose of humility.
You could spend hours learning the long way.
Many people do.
You’re not many people.
That’s why you’re here.
Follow these simple tips, and you’re on your way to success.
Give A Little History
Galleries, collectors, and the general public are anxious to know how, when, and why you became an artist.
Some artists take the traditional college/art school route, while others discover their love of art after many years of success in another occupation.
Include this information in the course of writing about your work. If you’re an artist who 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.
Write About Your Work Often
Practice removes your fear of writing.
While this advice seems scary at first, if you’re 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.
Write-In Small Increments
Short writing bursts keep you on track.
Sitting yourself down to write for an hour or two can lead to procrastination as you wait there, tapping a pencil to paper, hoping the words will flow. If you know that you freeze when forced with a long, drawn-out job, you may want to spread it out and do other things in between writing. Taking frequent breaks or time alone to reflect eases your anxiety and helps you to collect your thoughts.
Learn From The Writing Of Others
Research strong artist statements, essays, and grants that have intrigued galleries and collectors in the past.
The best way to learn how to write about your art is to familiarize yourself with the way fellow professional artists write about their work.
When you’re studying articles artists write about other artists, consider these questions:
a) Do they include background information about the artist before describing what they do?
b) Are they providing information about the artists’ level of education, awards, and experience?
c) Is there an attempt to describe what is unique about the artists’ work?
Once you understand how to extract small pieces of information from art articles, you’ll approach yours with less intimidation.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you examine other professionals’ artist statements:
a) What are the main themes or subjects of their work?
b) What is their particular medium?
(ex. Are they a painter, sculptor, photographer, …?)
c) Why do they create their work?
d) Who is their audience?
(ex. Is it for a rural community, animal lovers,…?)
As you read their statements, make sure to answer the questions mentioned above. When you finish, you’ll have a rough map of the information that you’ll need to include in your statement.
Edit Your Work
Before you publish or submit your writing sample, make sure you correct errors in spelling, punctuation, and delivery. This is especially important when applying for grants and scholarships. You may not get a second chance. Have a writing editor proofread your work for any inconsistencies in style and delivery. Make sure to get additional advice from mentors and other professionals in the industry, so you know what they’re looking for.
You can learn to write about your art, or pass on the responsibility to others who may or may not truly understand your vision. Sure, it’s kind of scary at first, but as you face your fears around the art of communication, your steady progress will open up opportunities you could never have imagined.
Your art deserves it.