Artist Statement: Sell the Sizzle by M Theresa Brown
Sizzle! That’s what an artist’s statement should be! It’s not your biography or your story. It’s about what makes you tick as an artist in your particular field. To quote Elmer Wheeler, “To sell the steak you have to sell the sizzle!”
What does that mean? Well we have observed two very relevant target areas of interest here. That of the person looking at your art or browsing your website, and that of the Gallery who is getting ready to show a few of your pieces.
When we are representing our own work, the average viewer asks predictable questions similar to: “When did you first learn that you had this talent?” or “How long have you been doing this?” To which we all answer something like “Oh, since I was a child” or “forever” or “I just started” or something along those lines. In self representation we are rarely asked what awards we have won, what galleries our work is in, or who else had bought our work. So it is easy to see why, when an opportunity arises for an artist to present or show his work in a Gallery setting, we might easily write our artist statement based on the questions that our clients ask. It makes plenty of good sense!
Save the Gallery some time and impress them by re-thinking your bland artist statement. If you are not marketing yourself, then these people are. They have to write blogs or post on Internet sites or insert a piece to the local arts calendar to market and promote you. YOU can actually do it best if you think outside the box.
Galleries also want specifics. Interestingly enough, your awards or who you studied under or who most influenced your art are of most interest to Galleries as it is their job to make you interesting to a prospect. Even if you don’t have a wall of awards, the Gallery (as we were told) will “puff it up.” That’s their job!
As a general rule, when self promoting, your client is face to face with you and so your artist statement is, in essence, you. You are building a relationship with that client as part of your artist statement..
So how are you going to present yourself in that statement? How are you going to deliver the sizzle? Art galleries will tell you that the biggest mistakes that artists make when creating an artist’s statement is make it predictable and boring. For starters, don’t begin your statement with “I loved art as a child” or something to that effect. Everyone loved art as a child or started with a box of crayons! That sentence alone brings in the “ho hum” factor before the next sentence has even been read.
With that in mind, no one really wants to read a chronological history of your life leading up to your career as an artist. Use adjectives to add sizzle. Use a thesaurus to help you replace predictable words or boring phrases. There is nothing wrong with studying how another artist writes a statement but remember that you need to make it your own. What would happen if several artists decided to copy an identical statement and they all sent it to the same Gallery? Or all put it on their blogs?Ã¢â‚¬Â¨Ã¢â‚¬Â¨Think outside the box with your artist statement. Be unpredictable but readable. Can you surprise a Gallery? You can if you back away from the standard statement and don’t go all wordy and predictable. You may think that all of this is obvious but you are just one of dozens sending an artist’s statement to a Gallery. Make yours the one that stands out!