Sculptors, painters and illustrators write artists statements as a way to express the purpose of their art and to explain the methods they used to create their work. Effective artist statements are written clearly and simply without the use of complicated terminology that will alienate a casual viewer who has no background or knowledge of art. The goal of an artist statement is to provide a context for the creation of the artwork, and to reveal a few relevant personal details about the artist. End the statement with a strong summary and overall theme of your art.
Summarize the main body of the statement in one or two short sentences that reiterate the purpose and themes in your work of art. For example, if you are displaying a series of black-and-white photographs, you could write, "Black-and-white images strip away all artifice and allow me to see the world as it is, in all its unvarnished beauty and ugliness."
Express the intention of your work of art in one sentence. For example, if you are a photographer presenting a series of photographs of stark, empty locations, you could write, "The loneliness of human existence is reflected in these images of remote, uninhabited areas of the world."
State your overall vision for your art work in general and what you hope to explore in your work. Explain in one or two sentences how the work you are displaying fits into your vision, or if it is a radical departure from what you normally create.
- Limit the conclusion to one paragraph and use active voice. Write the statement in present tense -- "I took these photos," instead of, "These photos were taken."
- Do not tell the viewer how to interpret your art. The goal of a statement is to reveal your intentions and methods, but you should allow viewers to form their own thoughts about your artwork.
Sampson Quain is a screenwriter and filmmaker who began writing in 1996. He has sold feature and television scripts to a variety of studios and networks including Columbia, HBO, NBC, Paramount and Lionsgate. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting from the University of Southern California.