Writing Your Artist’s Statement

Our new application process requires a bit more information than previously so here’s a guide of how to write your “artist’s statement”.  It’s nothing to worry about, we promise.  Applications open on the 1st April, so if you’ve never written an artist’s statement before, you can get a head start this coming week!

Your Statement

We know most people hate writing ‘artist statements’.  Often, the ones displayed in galleries and universities make as much sense to the average viewer as if it was written in Klingon.  And if you don’t even think of yourself as an ‘artist’ how do you even start?

If your application is successful, we’ll use your statement in our publicity for the fair, so do make sure you are happy with it and it says what you want to say about your work.

An artist statement should give the viewer or customer a bit of background to your work.  It should say the sort of thing you might talk about with a customer who asks about your work at your stall. Here’s a quick guide to what we’re looking for at Design@HEART, when we ask for one.

What you should include in your statement.

  • What you do/make
  • How you do it
  • Why you do it
  • Any influences – things, people, ideas that led to you doing what you do or producing the particular work you do.
  • Any message or point you or your work is making through your products/artwork (if relevant)

What we don’t want

There’s lots of ways of writing an artist statement, depending on who your audience is.  The important thing to know is to consider your audience. If you’re applying for a Design@HEART fair, we’re not looking for highly academic explanations of what you do.  We’re NOT PhD supervisors or an academic journal! Write for your customers in language they will understand and relate to.

  • We don’t want an essay.  A short paragraph is what we need.
  • We don’t need fancy words.  If you don’t usually use them, if you don’t think your customers will understand them, don’t use them in your statement.

How to write it

  • Use short sentences and plain English.
  • Use punctuation and grammar correctly.
  • Keep it short and sweet and to the point, between 100 and 150 words long.
  • Here’s a suggested structure.  It’s not written in stone, but if you include these things, you’ve about covered it:
    • Start with introducing what you do
    • Go on to explain a little more about them
    • Describe your materials and methods
    • Explain why you do it or why you do it, generally.
    • Talk briefly about your influences.
    • Is there something you want to add (briefly and succinctly) about your ethos or message?

This is just a suggestion. It doesn’t have to follow this formula to the letter.  Read it back to yourself, does it make sense?  Get a friend to read it too.  Does it say what you want it to say?  Would you be happy to have this description of your work and your business published? If the answer is yes, then you’re good to go.

Examples

Here’s a couple of examples.  Remember they are copyrighted – you need to write your own original statement, not copy other people’s – but hopefully they will give you an idea of what we are after. The first sticks quite rigidly to the formula above, the second is a bit more freeform.  But both contain the information our customers might be interested in, in a style that is easy to read.

Example 1

I design and make handbags. My bags are all practical as well as stylish, with simple designs. I use only natural textiles and materials, all sourced locally.  I hand stitch each bag individually.

I have always had a love of simple style and clean lines.  I have combined this with my interest in traditional textile manufacture.  I hope that my bags reflect an appreciation of the history and skill that goes to producing textiles.

I’m influenced by the colours I see around me, not just in nature but also in the built environment.  I love to spot colours and textures and patterns that go together well.

I’m not a slave to fashion.  I’m more interested in style, and practical uses of the bags I make. Above all I want people to be able to carry with them what they need and keep their hands free for the important things in life.

Becky Moore – Becky Moore Handbags (©2013)

 

Example 2

I’m a Leeds-based jeweller and printmaker, working primarily in silver and copper which is etched and engraved using techniques commonly found in printmaking.

My work is inspired by the landscape, as viewed on a flat plane through the train window and aerial views, and is influenced by English landscape painters, printmakers, and surface-pattern designers, as well as my background in garden design.

I love the textures, mark-making and unpredictability of the printmaking techniques I use, which I also translate into my jewellery and metal pictures to make pieces which will never be identical. Where appropriate, I like to add colour using traditional materials – patination recipes, vitreous enamels, and sepia ink. Exploring the chemistry of these processes in itself provides inspiration which means life is never dull!

Liz Samways – Inkylinky Jewellery (©2019)

 

 

Applications for Design@HEART 2019 open on 1st April.  We look forward to receiving yours. 

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