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The Ultimate Power Couple for Selling Your Art…The Artistic Fingerprint + Artist Statement

The Ultimate Power Couple for Selling Your Art…The Artistic Fingerprint + Artist Statement

Let’s define our terms, shall we?  

Before spring planting, I like to pull out weeds first. Sometimes definitions need this too. 

Artist Statement: 

Weed pulling… what it’s not. 

It’s not: a bio, a resume, or a personal critique. 

Planting… 

Your Artist Statement is a process where word-language reinforces the visual language of your art. 

Your Artist Statement is a process where word-language reinforces the visual language of your art.

Because we are all hardwired for visual and word languages, believing one is more powerful or important than the other burns down one of the most powerful bonds you can have with your viewers. Full stop. 

Artistic Fingerprint: 

Weed pulling… what it’s not. 

It’s not your artistic voice (unless you’re planning an Off Broadway review). 

It’s not your artistic style (unless you’re planning a runway collaboration during Fashion Week.) (Or you want to know where your work is on the historical art styles spectrum). 

Planting… 

You Artistic Fingerprint is what distinguishes you from the thousands of other artists all vying for visibility. It’s the X factor in every, single piece you create that tells anyone that you, and you alone, made this. 

And like your literal fingerprint, no one else can truly duplicate what you do.  

Besides the fact that most artists create their work, in some aspect or other, with their hands, a finger’s fingerprint is also a visual clue—not auditory, or kinesthetic, but physically visual. 

The Artist Statement Half of… The Ultimate Power Couple for Selling Your Art 

Here are two, little-understood, artist statement secrets: About Them and About You. 

Secret #1 About Them: the people who see your art, who are moved by your art, and then immediately experience a very human desire to want more. 

And the more they want is … 

Secret #2 About You: the artist who gave them this moving emotional, aesthetic experience. 

Sure, they can stand there, shifting from one foot to the other (or move their cursor around), and stare some more. Maybe even strike up a conversation with someone next to them about what they are seeing and feeling and thinking: Honey, come look at this. What do you think? 

Sure, you can leave it up to them to wander into this never-never land of your art and take what from it what they will, until they move onto the next piece (maybe one of yours, maybe not). 

Alternately, you could give them a killer artist statement that keeps them right there, next to your work, contemplating it even more. Spending more time with the experience your work has triggered for them.  

Because, when you capture that next layer of insight and awareness – without detracting from your viewer’s perspective – you have built a psychological bridge between you (the artist) and your potential buyer.  

your artist statement is a psychological bridge

Ah, you may be thinking, but how do I write an artist statement that doesn’t interfere with what my viewer is experiencing? Isn’t putting my spin on my work already inserting myself into their experience?  

As it turns out, many artists I’ve worked don’t bother with the open-ended curiosity of a question, but go right for the declaration: I won’t write my artist statement because… I want my viewer to draw their own conclusions. I don’t want to interfere or impose on  their interpretation or experience. 

I totally get it. This resistance to writing an artist statement feels utterly reasonable, especially to those of us who already worry about inconveniencing or “bothering” someone else. 

However, this misplaced concern completely misses the point of an artist statement, which is not an explanation of what your work means, or a roadmap to what someone should be experiencing when they see it. 

If you want to dive into why this declaration is not actually protecting any viewer from anything, check out this blog post: Your Artist Statement… Why Bother?  Part 1: Four Rational Reasons To Not Write An Artist Statement. 

If you are doing it right, your artist statement is not telling, or explaining, it’s revealing your relationship to the piece they’re viewing. 

your artist statement reveals the relationship

An effective artist statement is all About Them, about extending the experience you are creating for them!

It is about giving them a precious, word-language context that bonds to the visual-language you and your art have created. 

It’s letting your viewer in on some aspects of your private relationship to your work, which, when done well, brings your viewer closer to the piece they are experiencing because they feel closer to you, the artist. 

At the Core of Artist Statement Secret #1: About Them 

… lies an uncomplicated truth: an effective statement creates a personal connection to your artwork because it stimulates our human thirst for story. 

an effective statement creates a personal connection

This, in turn, triggers longer memory storage about you and your work by immersing the viewer in not just one, but two languages essential to our human experience: visual and linguistic.  

At The Core Of Artist Statement Secret #2: About You 

This secret is a bit sneaky because it’s not at all what people think an artist statement is for. 

Besides the art patrons, gallery owners, residencies (and a dozen other applications), your artist statement is for you. Not the marketing-business you, but you the artist. 

Writing an artist statement gives you another way to reflect on your work. When you dare to climb this small, professional Mt. Everest, a surprising view of your own work awaits you at the top.  

The very effort of searching for words that truly, authentically reflect your relationship to your art increases your creative flow.  

This is true whenever we engage in a form of self-expression that pushes us out of our comfort zone. Like sweat from physical exertion, the very struggle gets our creative juices flowing.  

One of the great keys of creativity is to shake things up, get out of familiar mindsets, work against the grain. Sometimes it is hard for an artist — whose artwork is based on uniqueness — to realize how easy it is for any pattern to become familiar.  

Writing your artist statement — the what, how, and why of your work — will draw art buyers closer to your work even as it deepens your own awareness.  

As another sculptor, Norbert Ohnmacht, learned: 

Writing my artist statement gave me a chance to focus on myself. It opened up more creative juice and self-expression than I had experienced in a long time. Taming my internal critic, and the roadblocks to my inner mind, gave me new skills to express my heartfelt emotions to others. 

Working on my statement gave me the opportunity to delve into my inner soul and reflect on the science of “me.” When I took the time to evaluate what, how and why I do what I do, it refined my work and gave me a fresh, determined self-confidence that I had lacked before. 

The Other Half of… 

 The Ultimate Power Couple for Selling Your Art: Your Artistic Fingerprint 

We are all deeply familiar with the sensation that we are unique; there is only one of me, and only one of you. 

And yet, even though we live in a culture that elevates individualism over the collective, celebrating our uniqueness is discouraged by a whole host of admonishments:  

It’s not polite to brag.  

Who do you think you are? 

So, you think you’re better than others… 

There’s always someone more talented than you. 

You’re stuck up. 

You sure do have a high opinion of yourself! 

And then there’s the disparity between women being confidently themselves and men: 

You’re too loud. 

You’re a bitch. 

You’re too dramatic. 

You talk too much. 

Don’t step on anyone’s toes. 

Don’t be a (fill in the blank)… slut, loudmouth,  and so on… 

Our rational minds may have learned to compensate for, or overcome, this pervasive, persuasive cultural negativity to the point where we truly believe we are free of its subconscious undertow. 

And yet, for a whole host of artists, this cultural mindset has poisoned the well of their Original Uniqueness of their Original Selves—some more so, some less. 

The result is either a fuzzy, incomplete, or completely missing artistic fingerprint because the uniqueness of who we are and the uniqueness of our artwork are intimately, and forever, entwined. 

When an artist is highly skilled, talented even, and yet it’s impossible to tell their artwork apart from dozens of equally skilled artists with similar work, that’s what the world of card sharks would call “a tell.”  

Often these artists have settled for the ohhs and ahhs of family and friends; or the creative high that goes hand-in-hand with the skillful execution of a piece. All the while denying the world a true slice of their unique soul. 

As I’ve said before, and it bears repeating, repeating, repeating:  

Artistic fingerprints are the soft underbelly of our creative ArtLife. The direct flow between your work and your creative soul depends upon the willingness and courage to be raw and vulnerable.  

And this, in large part, needs the appropriate personal boundaries and safeguards in place so vulnerability becomes risky enough to break through old patterns, but safe enough to stay real.  

Every artist I’ve ever met has told me of the moments where they felt elevated they had entered a timeless, seamless flow where there was no distinction between themselves, the piece they were working on, and the process of creating. It was all One. 

The universality of this experience goes unquestioned. And yet, each artist’s creative efforts have pulled from this realm a piece that looks unlike any other piece anywhere. Creative paradox. 

Like the fingerprints on your fingers, your Artistic fingerprint holds this intriguing, creative paradox: it is at once unique and universal–always a fingerprint… yet never the same. 

Creative Magic: when you give yourself permission to mine the depths for that which is truly yours, you lead the way for others to know themselves in equal measure.  

Whether or not they take you up on that is their business. Yours is to always shine the light on your Original True Self.

your artistic fingerprint is the ultimate creative paradox

A Case Study For The Ultimate Selling Your Art Power Couple: 

Your Artist Statement & Artistic Fingerprint 

When one of my private clients held a solo exhibition of his sculpture, he followed my suggestion to display each, singular art statement, about an individual piece, alongside the artwork. 

The typed statements were mounted at the top of thin, metal poles rising out of a stand to shoulder-height, so you could walk right up and read it. And because the font size was large enough, anyone else peering over someone’s shoulder could also read it.  

I arrived at the opening early and made a point to be a fly on the wall. And what I saw truly surprised me. The oft-quoted truism—a picture is worth a thousand words—had all the air knocked out of it that night. 

All evening, with its 200 plus guests, I watched the same scene unfold.  

Someone would approach one of the sculptures, glance briefly at the piece, then immediately turn and read the entire art statement; some that were two or three paragraphs.  

Then they would turn back, with an appreciative nod or smile, and really look at the sculpture, walk around it, talk about it, walk around it some more. 

I could see on their faces how their brains first registered, and then organized, the words they read with the images they saw.  I could literally see how the combination kept them engaged with each piece, and how it sparked conversations between the guests. 

The result of that night was a selling-your-art success… 

…and a triumph for the ultimate Power Couple for Selling Your Art 

Your Artistic Fingerprint and Your Artist Statement. 

====================================================== 

If you are ready to write your ultimate artist statement, check out the all new, updated 3rd Edition of my eBook: Writing The Artist Statement: Revealing The True Spirit of Your Work 

Ariane Goodwin's signature file

 

    How Irreplaceable Are You? A Creative Mindset That Shapes Selling Your Art

    How Irreplaceable Are You? A Creative Mindset That Shapes Selling Your Art

    It’s really not important if you want to create great art, good art, or just-for-the-heck-of-it art. The last thing I want to imply in my previous “Great Art” blog is that great art is automatically the goal. 

    Maybe yes, maybe, no—either way it’s not a judgment, it’s a description of one art career possibility, which may or may not be how you roll.  

    Some artists find great satisfaction in creating for the sake of creating. For others, the joy is in knowing that other people also find their work a distinct pleasure. While for most, selling art is the high point, the ultimate happy dance in their ArtLife. 

    However, if making great art is a deep, closely-held yearning inside you, I want to make sure you don’t think of it as a futile exercise in subjective reality or the coveted stamp of approval from others. 

    There are steps you can take (See: What Makes Great Art Great ). And while the markers of complexity, mystery, and mastery won’t assure you of greatness, at the very least they will give you a place to lean into. 

    Theres no ignoring your artistic fingerprint impact

    If you want your work to make an impact, there is one other, inescapable requirement you can’t ignore: Your Artistic Fingerprint, aka voice (except you don’t sing), style (except you aren’t walking a runway), etc.  

    And discovering your Artistic Fingerprint is the beginning of a creative mindset that will impact everything connected with selling your art. 

    Your Creative Mindset: The Irreplaceable You Behind Selling Your Art 

    All of us carry a deep-seated awareness that we are unique. As Mr. Rodgers slid in or out of his sweater, he liked to remind all of us that “you’re special just the way you are.” 

    And yet, for a whole host of artists, intentionally, consciously connecting the dots between the uniqueness of their artwork, and the uniqueness of who they are, seems to be a uniquely challenging mindset-hill to climb. 

    While for many other artists, it seems almost impossible to grasp the difference between the skillful execution of a piece, with its accompanying creative high, and offering the world a you-and-only-you, slice of your soul. 

    How many still-life fruit platters have you seen that could have been painted by any of a hundred different artists? 

    How many barnyards? Or rolling hills? 

    How many have you seen that could have been painted by only one? 

    And which do you remember long after the curtain has closed? 

    how do you bring the irreplaceable you into your art

    In 2024, with the 24/7, online presence of so many artists, there’s a cornucopia of artists who have an established artistic fingerprint. David Hockney is one, whose folding screen, Caribbean Tea Time (1987), offers the shape of his piece as uniquely his, along with his painterly execution. And then there is one of my favorites, Christina Quarles, who uses digital and hands-on techniques to give us content that challenges our sense of self. 

    The biggest-ticket deal took place in the first hours, with a, selling for €580,000 (about $616,00) via Galerie Lelong & Co. 

    What does it take to bring the irreplaceable you into your art? 

    What is the creative mindset you need to… 

    1. Recognize, and name, your artistic fingerprint so it becomes part of your overall artist identity? 
    1. Be open to where you are developmentally as an artist, and where on that path your artistic fingerprint is… 

    The Battle For Creative License  

    For some artists, their fingerprint has always been with them, from the beginning. They know it and others see it. It’s as if these artists have a direct lifeline to their creative soul that doesn’t waver. 

    For others, an artistic fingerprint is not so obvious.  

    I remember one woman coming up to gallery owner, in a workshop he was leading, to ask if she had a “distinctive style.” I was peeking over her shoulder where she was flipping through image after image in her portfolio; each one indelibly hers. I found it  puzzling that she couldn’t see the visual evidence right in front of her. 

    For other artists, one look at the dozens of pieces on their website and you’ll see an artist all over the place: different techniques, different styles, with little or nothing connecting them to the artist. 

    These artists, I’ve discovered, are fairly prickly when you talk about an artistic fingerprint. Immediately, they start defending their right to creative freedom, as if you’ve just told them they have to paint the same 3 pears, arranged in the same way in a chipped blue bowl, for the rest of their lives. 

    For other artists, their creativity is on an indulgent roll with sculpture vying for space in their buyers heads with the oil paintings vying for space with the silkscreens vying for space with the jewelry… you get the idea. 

    And in the majority of these cases, it’s not that there’s a problem with what they are doing, only with what the artist assumes can happen with what they are doing: sustainable, long-term, commercial success. 

    Not going to happen.  

    What might happen is sporadic sales and lots of ohhs and ahhs from friends and family, which only strengthen the artist’s resolve to keep what they see as a right to unshackled creative freedom. 

    Then there are artists who do want that artistic fingerprint (aka signature style, aka artist voice) and do want their work to have an impact, and their vision to have a following, only they aren’t sure how to go about it. 

    what if you dont know if you have an artistic fingerprint

    What if you don’t know if you have a fingerprint and you want one to help sell your art 

    Or you think you have a fingerprint, but aren’t confident about it? 

    This is exactly the predicament one of my private clients had when she first came to me.  

    She had been painting for years with a solid handle on technique. But she felt stuck and unsure about what she was painting. It was as if her creative soul was knock, knock, knocking on a closed door, and she knew it. 

    Once we delved into coaching, she was savvy enough to recognize that the missing piece for selling her art and expanding her career was a clear and conscious artistic fingerprint. 

    And she was genuinely confused about what her artistic fingerprint might be. 

    five steps of her artistic fingerprint journey

    Here are the five steps of her artistic fingerprint journey that we discovered together. Notice how each step builds on the previous one, and where her creative mindset came into play: 

    Step 1. We studied her work to identify areas that drew a consistent response from her viewers. Where were people moved? What did they say that stayed with her? Where was she moved? What stayed with her after leaving the studio? 

    Step 2. Once those areas were identified, we isolated them from the rest of the painting, and then lined these up so we could see them individually and as a group. What were the common elements in areas of color, technique, subject matter, perspective, etc. 

    Step 3. After identifying, and most critically naming the common elements, this artist began the hard work of asking herself “What does it mean to me when I do X?” For example, she had multiple areas in multiple paintings where she used her palette knife to create spider-web lines between areas on the canvass. 

    Step 4. Asking “What does it mean?” included writing exercises, keeping a dream journal beside her bed, and an art journal beside her in the studio. First, she set up the direct intention to understand her artistic fingerprint, and then used the exercises and journals to help her pay attention to what her sub-conscious was revealing. 

    Step 5.  A key practice, which helps create conscious awareness, was digging for the specific words or phrases that accurately described the recurring elements in her work that might relate to a common theme… which, surprise, surprise, they did! 

    Each of these five steps was incorporated into our coaching dialogue, which is critical to the Artistic Fingerprint Discovery. Without a dialogue, you are asking the eye to see the eye. 

    And, yes, not everyone has an art career coach, I understand. But this process can work quite well without a coach in your corner. 

    If you don’t have a coach, choose someone in your community whose artistic sensibilities you trust and who will understand what you are going for. Someone who will be a sounding board for your own developing awareness. Stay clear of anyone who might use this as an opportunity to show off or become a critic.  

    Artistic fingerprints are the soft underbelly of our creative ArtLife. The direct flow between your work and your creative soul depends upon the willingness and courage to be raw and vulnerable. And this, in large part, needs the appropriate personal boundaries and safeguards in place so vulnerability becomes risky enough to break through old patterns, but safe enough to stay real.  

    discovering your artistic fingerprint is the ultimate paradox

    When you step into the artistic fingerprint mindset, you’ll find your fingerprint is already a seamless part of all that you know, in your heart, to be true about you and your work. 

    Your Artistic Fingerprint Embodies All That Is Spiritual in Selling Your Art 

    I know that selling your art does not lend itself very well to the philosophical, esoteric, or spiritual. But in human reality, the philosophical, esoteric, and spiritual are always humming in the background. 

    Here’s an excerpt from one artist coaching session that illustrates this perfectly, where the act of painting becomes a kind of prayer to All That Is: 

    Artist: The paint is telling me what it wants to express. And then I look at it and realize, “Oh, this is the message that was coming through for me.”  

    For example, in one of my seascapes what’s attracting me to a particular scene with its colors and light is a message about the human experience throughout the web of life. How we are connected with each other, and with the source of universal energy that energizes us and gives us strength, and this in turn gives us our sense of purpose in life. 

    Every artist I’ve ever met has told me that, at some point in their creative practice, they experienced moments where they felt elevated, expansive, as if their very being had entered a timeless, seamless flow where there was literally no difference between themselves, the piece they were working on, and the process of creating. It was all One. 

    The universality of this experience goes unquestioned. And yet, each artist’s creative efforts have pulled from this realm a piece that looks unlike any other piece anywhere. Creative paradox. 

    Artistic fingerprints, aka your artist voice, also hold this intriguing, creative paradox: like the fingerprints on our fingers, they are at once unique and universal–always a fingerprint yet never the same. 

    They also represent one of the creative responsibilities of choosing to be an artist—“responsibility,” not as duty or code for the British stiff-upper-lip, but responsibility to share our truth, as only we can know and experience. 

    What’s magical is: when you give yourself permission to mine your own depths for authenticity and that which is truly yours, you lead the way for others to know themselves in equal measure.  

    Whether or not they take you up on that is their business. Yours is to always shine the light on your Original True Self. 

    ————————————————– 

    I’d love to know what challenges have come from your journey with your artistic fingerprint… 

    Ariane Goodwin's signature file

     

      Selling Your Art 2024, The Artist Statement, and Instagram

      Selling Your Art 2024, The Artist Statement, and Instagram

      Does the artist statement help you in selling your art? Besides vibing on Instagram, your artist statement improves the process for selling your art in 20 other places. 

      When I stumbled upon artist statements it was 1992. The Internet was barely off breast feeding. Twitter didn’t exist, much less its decadent descendent.  

      In 2002, when my artist statement book first came out, the art world reserved career for an artist who had died (and were “given” a career retrospective), or a famous, old, alive artist also being “given” a career retrospective. 

      At that time in our culture, the collective perspective of artists was moving away from the maverick outsider to the more accepted, business person, albeit one with a flair. At that same time, the artist statement was an elusive element in an artist’s portfolio that no one considered overly consequential (including artists), much less worthy of a whole book. 

      In 2002, all that changed with the first edition of Writing the Artist Statement: Revealing the True Spirit of Your Work,

      In 2002, all that changed with the first edition of Writing the Artist Statement: Revealing the True Spirit of Your Work, where I uncovered the logical, practical, and reversible flaws in the artist statement resistance movement. You know the one… where artists proclaim with bravado that they have nothing to say that someone can’t already see in the work. 

      Never mind that this was silly on its face since what the artist sees and what a viewer sees, in spite of any overlap, is essentially a deeply personal “seeing” that arises out of the unique experiences of each individual. 

      Spin forward into 2007, when I realized that, for artists, the concept of selling your art had zero professional support. So, I created and produced held the first smARTist Telesummit conference for visual artists. Over the next six years, thousands of artists from 16 countries and over 40 US states, attended the first ever, annual, online, 7-day, art-career conference.  

      At the time, art, artist, and career were culturally clipped by a perceived incompatibility because career was reserved for a certain class made up of doctors, lawyers, educators, etc. 

      The collective WE had already concluded that Artists were too… flaky, too creative (i.e., not dependable), independent (i.e., not stable), marched to the tune of their own drummer (i.e., not reliable)…starving (by definition)…and certifiably crazy (you know, the Van-Gogh-minus-one-ear syndrome)… you get the vibe. 

      The sad part back then in 2007?  

      Artists got the same vibe. And so, as self-fulfilling prophecies always go, artists failed to considered themselves career viable. A business, yes, as artists began wrestling with the idea that they could at least sell their art if they had the right venue, usually galleries or local art fairs. 

      Now, in 2024, all of this has changed. Search online for “art career coaches,” and they are everywhere. In 2007, there were only a handful of us. 

      Search online for art career and you’ll come up with a plethora. Back in 2007, all you would find is one or two “art career retrospectives,” or art as a career in other fields: design, education, cartoons, etc.  

      But now, in 2024, Instagram has turned visual fine art into a financially viable career with coach after coach focused on selling your art to the exclusion of anything else that might, or might not, be part of your viable art career. 

      Some argue, now, that the artist statement is no longer needed. It’s passé. Some galleries don’t even require it. Well, that’s not new. Some galleries, even before Instagram, resisted and questioned the need for artist statements—a standpoint I logically wrestle to the ground in my book.  

      Here’s what you need to know: Artist statements deliver a fundamental function that impacts how well you are selling your art, which the current naysayers are thoughtlessly ignoring.  

      A unique-to-only-you artist statement can never go out of style in the same way your art isn’t going out of style. Fashion… style… trends… these come and go. But the language of your soul remains as authentic and engaging today as it will 500 years from now in 2524. 

      The trick is to understand how to use your artist statement in any venue.

      The trick is to understand how to use your artist statement in any venue. 

      Let’s take Instagram for starters, and answer this question:  

      why use an artist statement on instagram

      Here’s three: 

      1. It lets you vibe with your social media followers so the word-language of your Original Self becomes as consistent and strong as the visual-language of your art.  
      2. It gives you a signature-language bond between art, artist, and audience that encourages more engagement because it reveals the true spirit of your work. 
      3. Once written, it can be repurposed, expanded or miniaturized, and adapted for multiple channels. 

      Even on Instagram, it’s a rare artist who throws up an image, but says nothing below it, right? 

      An artist statement, like your art, establishes who you are in a sea of other artists.

      An artist statement, like your art, establishes who you are in a sea of other artists. 

      But its usefulness goes even further. 

      Here’s an excerpt from the “just released” 3rd edition of my book:  

      Writing the Artist Statement: Revealing the True Spirit of Your Work 

       

      WHY WRITE AN ARTIST STATEMENT? 

      Because an artist statement affirms what you do, and by extension affirms you. And none of us can ever have too much affirmation. 

      Because an artist statement calls out for you to recognize the true faces of your deepest self: truth, beauty, and goodness. 

      Because an artist statement invites you to experience another level of awareness about yourself and your art. 

      Because an artist statement strengthens the relationship you have with your work. 

      Because an artist statement builds a compelling bridge between your audience and your art. 

      Because an artist statement enriches the connection between the artist and the art. 

      Because it is practical. You can use your artist statement for: 

      • Websites 
      • Portfolios 
      • Brochures 
      • Galleries  
      • Catalogs 
      • Press releases 
      • Media articles 
      • Craft shows 
      • Contests 
      • Grants
      • Social media posts/reels 
      • Art festivals 
      • Exhibition/performance notes 
      • Biographical notes 
      • Applying for grants 
      • Applying for teaching positions 
      • Applying for artist-in-residence 
      • Degree applications 
      • Your local chamber of commerce 
      • Journalists/Writers 

      And then, there is my favorite reason for writing an artist statement: Personal Power, which I elaborate on in Chapter 6 of Writing the Artist Statement: Revealing the True Spirit of Your Work. 

      Here are the two sidebars in that chapter: 

      Personal power is the power emerging from our deepest connections to life: of feeling, embracing, creating, and celebrating.  

      The only way to expand our personal power is to embrace ourselves exactly as we are; neither more nor less, but as someone in a state of constantly changing grace. 

      When you have your own encounter with your own artist statement, then you will come face to face with your personal power… 

      ========================================= 

      Oh, btw, the brand new 3rd edition of Writing the Artist Statement: Revealing the True Spirit of Your Work is now available along with the 3-Part Ambitious Bundle to help you reach the end of the book with an artist statement in your hand! 

      Ariane Goodwin's signature file

       

        HOW TO RELISH YOUR ARTIST STATEMENT 

        HOW TO RELISH YOUR ARTIST STATEMENT 

        Here’s two things I know to be true about artist statements:  

        1. An immediate, very human desire arises when someone is moved by your art: to know more about the person who moved them. Simple. Undeniable. 
        2.  At the outset, an artist statement may be used for art patrons, gallery owners, websites, applications (grants/residencies, etc.), press releases, etc., but more than that, it’s also for you, the artist. Here’s an Artist Statement Stress Test: A True Story 

          I suggested to one of my private clients that he display an “art” statement beside each of his sculptures for an major exhibition. 

          Wait… let’s back up. What’s an Art Statement? 

          An Art Statement is an artist statement tailored to an individual piece of art. Instead of a succinct, overview of your artistic vision, the Art Statement sticks to a single piece.  

          Now, Back To Our Artist Statement Story… 

          Before his solo, sculpture exhibit, he and I talked at length about presentation strategies. 

          If you’re going to the trouble of writing a statement, then making sure it’s easy to access and read just makes sense. 

          I was pleased, when I attended the exhibit, with how he’d mounted each typed “art statement,” on handmade paper,  at the top of a thin, metal pole set in a simple disc on the floor.  

          Those typed statements were assembled at the perfect height. A viewer could walk right up and read it. And, even if someone else was peering over the first person’s shoulder, the font size and word placement allowed that second, or even third, person to read it too.  

          His presentation followed all the best practices I’d put together. But what I observed, as over 200 guests mingled in and around his pieces, truly astounded me. 

          Written Artist Statements Are Innately Compelling. 

          The caveat: when presented well!  

          I make this claim because of my first-hand experience during a long evening of quiet observation. 

          As I too mingled with the guests this happened: whenever someone approached a sculpture, they would glance at his piece, then immediately turn their head to read his art statement for that piece. 

          After reading, they would turn back to look at the piece with an appreciative nod or smile. These weren’t cursory observations. They would lean in and study the sculpture, walk around it, talk about it, then walk around it some more. 

          Once in a while, they would return to the art statement again. Then back to the sculpture. 

          You could almost see, on their faces, how their brains were connecting with what they saw (visual language) with what they read (word language). 

          And this happened over and over and over again… confirming what I’ve suspected all along… 

          The Heart of an Artist Statement Embraces a Deep Truth… 

          When your statement is effective and presented with care, that statement creates an engaging, meaningful connection to your artwork because it ignites our human thirst for story. 

        Blog 4 Ariane Goodwin The Heart of an Artist Statement Embraces a Deep Truth

        And that’s not all it does. 

        Once you fan the flames of an engaging story, that goes on to trigger someone’s long-term  memory.  

        Connecting your visual language with word language builds neural connections in the viewer’s brain about you and your work, because it immerses the viewer in not just one, but two languages: visual and linguistic. 

        As the viewers read those art statements that night, and then looked more closely at the sculptures, they also began a conversation with the people near them about the connections they were seeing between what they read and what they saw.  

        Between these two, different forms of creative expression. 

        This highlights some of the brain research in science communications that shows how thinking about a narrative, and talking to others, reinforces our memory and, over time, can drive a broader change in attitudes—quite literally changing aspects of our world. 

        In an interview with Liz Neeley, a scientist working in science communications, the host of NPR’s Short Wave podcast, Maddie Sofia, gave Neeley the opportunity to make two points: 

        1. Word narratives are so powerful they can “shift stereotypes” about who we are.
        2. Research data suggests that people remember things better, and are more engaged by stories, over a list of facts, like a resume or artist bio. 

        Blog 4 Ariane Goodwin Word narratives are so powerful quote

        Imagine the implications of these two points for the people in your world who love your work. 

        An Artist Statement can, subtly, alter some of the artist myths and stereotypes floating around. And simultaneously, help you and your work stay longer in your viewers’ brains. 

        Why would any rational artist give up learning to wield this kind of power? 

        It’s a question that haunts my sleep. 

        Artist Statements: What’s Good for the Viewer is Even Better For the Artist. 

        Writing an artist statement is not easy. 

        Oh, I know, all kinds of artist advocates might use the “5 Easy Steps to Writing Your Artist Statement” to persuade you otherwise. 

        And, if you’re a surface-level kind of artist, who doesn’t enjoy digging into their psyche for hidden material, I suppose you could write an artist statement that would hit all the surface benchmarks. 

        What a surface-level artist statement can never do is give you the kind of insight into your own artistic process that signals to your viewer, “Ah, now this is fascinating. This is compelling…” 

        At best, it passes English 101. At worst, it comes off trite, inauthentic, and padded with generalizations. 

        Once you’ve decided to use writing your artist statement as a way to deepen, enrich, and expand your relationship to your artistic process, you’ll find the exercise gives you a surprising and new way to reflect upon your work. 

        It’s not at all unusual, when I’m working with a private client, to get some variation of what my most recent client, a mid-career professional artist, said to me: 

        I didn’t think I would have anything to say but there are all these  words and phrases and sentences coming out now…L.A. 

        And that was followed by pages of material she’s uncovered, all waiting inside her psyche for permission to show up. 

        It Takes Courage to go Into the Heart of Your Artistic Process… 

        … and bring the intuitive into consciousness. 

        The magic happens when you search for words that truly reflect your relationship to your art, and experience an upsurge in your creative flow. 

        Surprising benefits show up whenever we tackle a form of self-expression that pushes us out of our comfort zone. Like sweat from physical exertion, the very struggle gets our juices flowing. 

        One of the great keys to creativity is to work against the grain,  get out of familiar mindsets, and shake things up. And for artists, whose very practice is founded on being unique, it can be hard to recognize when a pattern has become familiar. 

        For prospective art buyers, your artist statement will draw them closer to your work. For you, the artist, writing your artist statement gives you an opportunity to deepen your own awareness. 

        I mean, what’s not to love? 

        Writing my artist statement gave me a chance to focus on myself. It opened up more creative juice and self-expression than I had experienced in a long time. Taming my internal critic, and the roadblocks to my inner mind, gave me new skills to express my heartfelt emotions to others. 

        Working on my statement gave me the opportunity to delve into my inner soul and reflect on the science of “me.” When I took the time to evaluate what, how and why I do what I do, it refined my work and gave me a fresh, determined self-confidence that I had lacked before.  

        ~ Norbert Ohnmacht, sculptor 

        ***** 

        Nine Reasons to Banish Resistance & Relish Your Artist Statement 

        For The Artist:

        Writing an artist statement asks you to, once and for all, recognize the faces of your true self: Truth. Power. Beauty. 

        • You may feel the relationship you have with your work is already pretty strong. But once you write your artist statement, I promise you’ll lift way above your level. 
        • Writing an artist statement affirms what you do, and so, by extension, also affirms you. And who would give up being affirmed? 
        • Self-trust can be hard to come by. Writing your artist statement makes another statement about you:  that you trust yourself enough to flow into another realm of creative expression.  
        • Writing your artist statement invites you to experience an expanded awareness about yourself and your art. Given a chance to update your own art experience, why wouldn’t you? 
        • Writing your artist statement is a rare and precious time to engage your artistic soul. 

        Digging deep into the artist statement reveals more about your work than even you suspected. Surprise yourself! 

        Blog 4 Ariane Goodwin writing artist statement affirms what you do quote

        For The Viewer, Your Potential Buyer: 

        • Your artist statement builds a compelling bridge between your viewer and your work. Of course your art is the real deal. But when connecting to your potential buyers on  more than one level increases their interest, and thus the likelihood of a sale, why wouldn’t you? 
        • Your artist statement enriches the connection between the artist, the art, and the art patron, and influences how long the memory or your work stays in your viewer’s long-term storage. 
        • Because it is a powerful experience for your viewers when you use the tool of language to support the art you love giving to the world. 

          Drop a line in the blog post comments below. 

          I’d love to know what stage you’re in of the writing-your-artist-statement process.  

          Do tell! 

           Ariane Goodwin's signature file

          Whenever you’re ready to update your artist statement, or even write your first one, join my waitlist for: Writing The Artist Statement eBook & Ambitious Bundle. 

          It’s not enough to know what an artist statement is. You need to know how to write one! 

          This new 3rd edition eBook with its Ambitious Bundle takes you from head scratching to a polished, compelling artist statement. Check it out! 

            Your Artist Statement … Why Bother? Part 3

            Your Artist Statement … Why Bother? Part 3

            PART 3: Three More Rational Reasons To Not Write Your Artist Statement…or, 

            Are they really “rational?” 

            In Part 1, I wrote about seven core reasons artists use to rationalize away any need for an artist statement. And then we dove into the first four in Parts 1 & 2. 

            Here’s a quick review of those first four before we finish up with the last three of these seven arguments against writing an artist statement.

            REVIEW of Parts 1 & 2: Four Rational Reasons To Not Write Your Artist Statement 

            Reason No. 1:  I Won’t Write My Artist Statement Because… 

            #1 – My artwork speaks for itself! I mean, what is there to say that someone can’t already see? 

            Under the hood:  

            Fearing words have a power, when mis-used, that could negatively affect a viewer’s opinion of your artwork, speaks to a deeper mistrust of your own ability to use words effectively. 

            When you approach words as just one more tool in your art career toolbox, this resistance relaxes.  

            Reason No. 2: I Won’t Write My Artist Statement Because… 

            No. 2 – Reducing my intuitive, reflective, and emotional creative process to words feels like caging a magnificent beast. 

            Under the hood:  

            Here’s a variation of the “ tyranny of commitment” theme: Words have the unreasonable power to make whatever you write real and unchangeable. You become committed to them for life. 

            Realizing you have the same control over which words you choose (and can delete or change at any time), gives you permission to use your artist statement words not just for your viewers, but to also deepen into your own consciousness about your intuitive ArtLife. 

            Reason No.3: I Won’t Write My Artist Statement Because… 

            No.3 – I want my viewer to draw their own conclusions. I don’t want to interfere or impose on  their interpretation or experience. 

            Under the hood:  

            Of course you don’t want to trample on anyone’s experience of your work. But isn’t the work itself already setting the parameters for what you want someone to experience? 

            It’s no different with your artist statement. Check out if there’s a part of you that has always felt unsafe being too exposed to others; so, putting your relationship to your art in words becomes a trigger for level of unsafe vulnerability. 

            As I said in Part 2: Revealing the true spirit of your work does not mean you don’t have boundaries. This is not a free for all and nothing has to be revealed that doesn’t feel right. 

            Reason No. 4:  I Won’t Write My Artist Statement Because… 

            No.4 – I don’t want my work judged by an artist statement when my true medium is visual. I want my work to stand on its own.  

            Under the hood:  

            Fear of “word magic” increases the fear of word power exponentially. Here, anything you say will be held against you and your art; the double whammy! 

            Remember, the idea is for your artist statement to become a complementary support for your work. Not to replace it. Not to deflect from it. Not to overshadow it. 

            As I said in Part 2: Revealing your relationship to your art creates a vibrant connection that keeps the story going after the artwork has been appreciated on its own. 

            Now, let’s tackle the last three of the seven core Reasons To Not Write Your Artist Statement. 

            ************************************ 

            The No.5 “Reason” Artists Tell Me They Don’t Want To Write An Artist Statement 

            I Won’t Write My Artist Statement Because… 

            No.5 – I don’t want the magic of my creative process demystified by words and left open to criticism. 

            Oh, goodness, two for the price of one: demystification and criticism (in other words,  judgment). 

            In this “reason,” the assumption is that some things are better left unsaid (by the artist), while leaving the door open for all kinds of things to be said by the viewers, art critics, the peanut gallery, etc. 

            I mean, heaven forbid that you, the artist, might weigh in on the discussion.  

            Or that you, the artist, might actually lead the discussion. 

            Because, what would you, the artist, have to contribute to the conversation (all done in words, btw…)? 

            Never mind the assumption that demystification dilutes the magic. Of course, if artist statements are already suspect for you, then this No.5 Reason to not write one will be appealing. 

            But, what if…  

            Reason #5 – I don’t want the magic of my creative process demystified by words and left open to criticism. 

            …isn’t what it seems to be? 

            What’s Really Behind Reason No. 5?   

            The concern that your art magic will be demystified by your artist statement is a cover story for the real culprit: the potential criticism, the fear of being judged. 

            Even though most of us engage in judging others, when it comes to being judged, well… that is a beast with different stripes. Which means our fear of being judged is not entirely unfounded, because we know it’s a real possibility in human give and take. 

            Also, being judged feels embarrassing. Most of us will go out of our way to keep from feeling judged or embarrassed.   

            And if writing an artist statement leaves us open to either, we’ll figure out a seemingly “rational reason” for not doing it. 

            Releasing the Resistance Inside Reason No.5 for Not Writing an Artist Statement 

            First off, let’s demystify the demystifying-your-art-magic concern. 

            One of the beauties of art is how it can transcend language barriers. The universality of images and color and spatial relationships between these connects people on a deep, intuitive level. 

            This is uncontested. 

            Words hold a different kind of power. Which is why it’s fruitless to compare them, as in “a picture is worth a thousand words.” 

            Because word-language is basic to all of human interaction, it holds a primary place in our quest for understanding and meaning-making. It’s the basis of story, the oldest form of social connection. 

            Words excite specific areas of our brain. Words excite our imaginations. 

            The sharp tang of the cut orange peel rushed into my nose, even as it stung the cut on my finger, which had rested too close to the knife. 

            Try that with paint, or marble, or metal, or fabric… 

            You might execute the imagery, but the words ignite the smell and kinesthetic feelings that that translate into a direct sensation because of an odd truth about our brains.  

            Brains do not distinguish between the physical experience, and the same experience played out imaginatively.  

            It’s this kind of word power, when added to the power of your art, that creates the ultimate magic: exciting all of your viewers’ imaginations, visual and verbal (words). 

            But what about the potential criticism you leave yourself open to when you write an artist statement? 

            It’s important to remember that an artist statement is not an art critique; these are very different approaches to writing about art. 

            Your  artist statement is a bridge between what the viewer sees and what the viewer thinks about your work.  You artist statement revolves around your relationship to your art, not a critique about your art. 

            It reveals something (not everything) about this relationship that gives the viewer the sense they get to “peek into your studio while you’re working.” 

             It makes them feel more connected to you and what you do, not less. 

            And whom, may I ask  is better qualified to do this than you, the artist? 

            As I write in my book  

            (paraphrasing…) In the end, the best protection against the embarrassment of being judged or criticized, is to arm yourself with the truth, and the skill to reveal it.  

            You are the one who holds the truth about your art, no one else. 

            ***** 

            The No.6 “Reason” Artists Tell Me They Don’t Want To Write An Artist Statement 

            This reason smacks of visual-art elitism.  Art is everything; nothing else can compare. 

            Ouch. 

            I Won’t Write My Artist Statement Because… 

            No.6 – Words are too limiting while art is boundless. 

            I suspect Reason No.6 arises from the fact that a visual artist , by definition, is attuned to visual expression in a very direct, very compelling way. 

            What amuses me is that because of this overwhelming visual sensitivity (talent), artists dismiss or forget that word language has always been alongside their visual acuity.  

            It’s been with them as soon after birth as they began to mimic the caretakers around them and “speak,” in whatever word or sign language (also words) was in their environment. 

            So, maybe, just maybe… 

             Reason No.6 – I don’Words are too limiting while art is boundless isn’t what it seems to be… 

            What’s Behind Reason No. 6? 

            Words are your human birthright. 

            But if the words you think and speak every day are so taken for granted, so commonplace, so universally accepted that they become, in some sense, less than your celebrated talent for visual expression, this sets you up to dismiss their potential contribution to your artistic process. 

            And in this unconscious ignorance of the foundational existence and importance of words—every day of your life—you are more likely to misplace your visual talents as top dog in some kind of unconscious hierarchy of importance. 

            And then you land here: art = boundless / words = unacceptable limits 

            Releasing the Resistance Inside Reason No.6 for Not Writing your Artist Statement 

            Take your art off the pedestal and let it stand side-by-side with your words. Think of words as an extension of your art that can increase the vibrancy and connection your visual talent has made for a viewer. 

            Think of visual language and word language as partners in creating an indelible bond between you the artist, and the viewer who wants to own your work. 

            Offer this viewer, wowed by your work, insight into who you are as the artist that created this magnificent piece of art. Offer them another layer of complexity that cannot be “seen” by the work itself. 

            Give them more. Surprise them with an even richer connection. 

            Surprise yourself. 

            ***** 

            The No.7 “Reason” Artists Tell Me They Don’t Want To Write An Artist Statement   

            I Won’t Write My Artist Statement Because… 

            #7– The canvass is my mirror, and the strokes of my brush reveal more about me than an artist statement. 

            This reason has two flaws: 

            1. This artist assumes their viewer can decode what’s behind the artist’s visual language, which is nonsensical on its face. 
            1. This artist is also transferring the responsibility of bringing unconscious material into conscious awareness to their viewer. 

            Only the artist knows what those strokes mean to them. Only if the artist uses words to articulate the connection between brush strokes and what is “being revealed,” will the viewer have any chance of understanding that connection. 

            Hmmm, let’s see why Reason No.7 isn’t what it seems to be… 

            What’s Behind Reason No.7 

            What I find most intriguing about this reason is how it speaks to truth. 

            Indeed, your work of art is a direct reflection of you, the artist. The two of you are forever entwined in a creative experience; one cannot exist without the other. 

            But… truths can be tricky, especially when one truth is simultaneously hiding another. 

            In this case, the truth—that  your art is a mirror, revealing important aspects of your artistic psyche—fails to acknowledge that the “reveal” is private and hidden, only available to the artist. 

            This means that writing your artist statement will directly and intentionally bring what is hidden into the presence of others. 

            Which may unconsciously threaten an artist who feels, for whatever reasonable reason, unsafe. Or who feels vulnerability is to be avoided. Or who doesn’t want to be judged or criticized (sound familiar?). 

            Let’s see what we can do with all of this, yes? 

            Releasing the Resistance Inside Reason No.7 for Not Writing an Artist Statement 

            I’ll remind you:  

            You, the artist, are in control of the word language you choose. You are in control of what you decide to share in your artist statement. 

            There is a soft landing on what will increase a viewer’s experience of your work, and the elements you choose to reveal  that feel right to you. 

            You can pull back the curtain enough to create an expanded art experience for your viewer that also honors your privacy. 

            This is not a win or lose proposition. It’s a win/win all the way around. 

            Because, isn’t that what it’s all about: connecting to others, sharing your visions with the world? 

            At least Reason No.7 admits that there is, indeed, something in the artistic process and production of a piece that reveals an artist’s psyche. 

            Which is why I end all of my emails with this salutation: 

            Revealing the true spirit of your work is the work. 

            What’s Next: 

            You know, I’m not really sure. I’m toying with writing about Art Sales next. But I may head in a different direction with artist statements. 

            It’ll be a mystery to us both. 

            Drop a line in the blog post comments below. 

            I’d love to know if you see yourself in any of these 7 reasons why artists won’t write their artist statement! 

            Whenever you’re ready to update your artist statement, or even write your first one, join my waitlist for: Writing The Artist Statement eBook & Ambitious Bundle. 

            It’s not enough to know what an artist statement is. You need to know how to write one! 

            This new 3rd edition eBook with its Ambitious Bundle takes you from head scratching to a polished, compelling artist statement. Check it out!