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Writing the Artisan's Statement

Saturday, July 11, 2015

When I went to college, I was planning on being a full-time fiction writer.  Yeah, that didn't work out for me.  But I learned a lot of useful stuff.  In one of my final writing classes, one of the things I was required to do was to come up with an artist's statement. It was an essay in which I described my writing process and analyzed my writing itself.  I had to examine why I wrote, how I wrote, and what I wanted my writing to become.  It seemed a kind of pointless exercise to me at the time, something that I did just to fulfil an academic requirement. But it turned out to be a Good Thing.  It forced me to look at my work objectively and to put into words my own aspirations and goals.  After I wrote that statement, I found myself becoming more conscious of my style choices, which gave me greater control over them.

Fast forward a decade or so (yeah, we won't get into how long it's been), and I find myself thinking that doing the same thing with my jewelry and wire art would also be a Good Thing, and for the same reasons.  To crystallize in words the choices I make and the choices I wish to make when it comes to my art.  

It's a useful, enlightening exercise, and I encourage anybody who makes any kind of art on a regular basis to do it!  It needn't be perfect.  It doesn't need to have perfect spelling or be in paragraph form, unless you plan to make it public. I promise, you won't be graded. It DOES need to be in words, because human beings think in language, and putting things in language makes things more real to us. 

Here are a few things to consider when you write your own artisan's or artist's statement:

  • Why do you make your art?
  • What inspires you to make your art?
  • What is unique or special about your art?
  • How would you describe your artistic style, in one sentence, to someone who's never seen it?
  • And finally, what goals do you have for your artistic future?  Not business goals, those are separate.  But in what direction(s) do you want your art to grow or improve?

And that's all there is to it.  If you polish it up, you can use it as a bio, because these are the things people want to know about your art.  It can help you to create a consistent "brand" for your business.  And in ten years,  you can look back on it and see how far you've come.

Have any of you written up an artist's statement?  Did you find that it affected your work? Let me know in the comments below!

Comments

Finding meanings

I was in university for Fine Arts (also long, long ago...), and often my favourite part of the courses were the weekly critiques. Good or Bad, it was always interesting to see how others interpreted pieces, where they found meaning, and suggestions for improvement. The chance to also describe your process for arriving at the piece under discussion and what you hoped to impart was very beneficial.
I agree that it's a good practical excercise, and thank you for supplying some questions to help me get started on the process again!

Janine, the critique

Janine, the critique workshops for writing were much the same way. The only critiques that didn't help were a flat "I liked it" or "I didn't like it." Okay, fine...but WHY did you like or not like it? I haven't felt gutsy enough to solicit any hardcore critiques on my wire work yet, though. I am thinking I should change that. Maybe. Possibly. Eek!

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