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. 

Heart of Glass

Sarah Wade of Garage Glass Studio is back this December with her charming fused glass products.  We asked her about her making process and how she got started.

My interest in fused glass developed from my interest in stained glass which I did as a hobby for a number of years. At one course I went on there was a kiln and we had a go at fusing glass. I was hooked, and ever since I have been fascinated with the things you can do with glass and a kiln.

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Warm glass or kiln-formed glass is the working of glass by heating it in a kiln. The processes used depend on the temperature reached and range from fusing and slumping to casting but doesn’t go much above 800 degrees centigrade. This differs from hot glass, where the artist works with molten glass with a temperature around 1000 degrees.

For the first few years my interest had to remain a hobby as I had a day job as an accountant, but four years ago I gave up that job and soon afterwards Garage Glass Studio was born. I have two small kilns in our garage and the glass is created there, hence the name.

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I did a City and Guilds level 3 in decorative glass course at night school, and I have been on a number of courses to learn specific techniques of glass making, but other than that I am self taught, adapting techniques I have learnt to create the images that I want to make, and learning how glass performs at different temperatures. I am particularly fascinated by the effects are created through the reactions between the chemicals in different glasses as they heat up.

 

Most of the inspiration for my work comes from the world around me, from the animals and plants that I see in the countryside in West Yorkshire. I love taking my wares to craft fairs and sharing it with people. It feels great when they look at your table and smile.

 

A Passion for Pattern

Preeti Gupta is bringing Pattern Passion back to Design@HEART next week and we can’t wait to see what new designs she’s got in store.  She’s taken over the blog this week to tell us more about her company and work.

Pattern Passion is the home of hand painted and hand drawn patterns inspired by nature which I create lovingly in my studio in Leeds. These designs are digitally printed onto luxury silks to adorn elegant and unique womenswear, scarves, cushions, purses, wristlets and men’s accessories. Great quality digital printing allows all the patterns to capture the original concept and artwork in the finest detail and always retain the handmade natural element. I strive to bring the finest unique wearable and decorative art. Some of the latest additions to my range of products are super soft silk scrunchies, silk headbands, square and long scarves, wristlets, coasters  and ties adorned with new hand painted patterns.

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As far as my memory can take me I have always been a nature lover and always will be. It doesn’t cease to amaze me and inspire. As a child I was naturally drawn to nature. I could sit for hours in silent wonder, literally watching the flowers grow. Little did I know then that I was serving my apprenticeship for my future career.  All artists have many inspirations and mine first came in that garden. My first designs were inspired by that cacophony of colour, so bright, so raw, so vibrant. I have always enjoyed drawing and painting. I grew up to pursue medical profession but realised very soon that my happiness lay in anything to do with painting and drawing. This led me to take up textile design studies in India which I thoroughly enjoyed and practiced for a few years before coming to UK. My inquisitiveness led me to take up BA Honours in Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design at Leeds College of Art which was a very enjoyable creative journey. After working for a few high street retailers such as Dorma furnishings, M&S, John Lewis I decided to launch my own brand; Pattern Passion.

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I have a little studio at home where I begin with painting or drawing loads of motifs. After that I work on the computer to play around with the painted motifs and create some repeat patterns out of them. These are sent out for digital printing onto silks and then made into various products.

I really enjoy the creative side of my work. I derive a lot of joy, peace and satisfaction from creating my artwork and products. The whole process from research to completion is thoroughly enjoyable. I also find the interaction and connection with my customers very rewarding.

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The biggest challenge of running a micro business for me is managing everything alone. Sometimes I feel it’s a bit of a juggle doing everything yourself. It’s about finding the balance between creating, marketing, selling and also having a life.  In a few years’ time I would like Pattern Passion to be known as a brand that can be trusted for great designs and quality. I would love to see it in some top design led shops.

When you give up a successful career

Julie Ashworth is our latest designer-maker to take over the blog.  Like many of us, it’s not her first career.  Read how she gave up a successful career as an author and created  award-winning greetings card company, Yoojoo.

Designing and making greeting cards isn’t my first career, I originally trained as a teacher of Art & Design and English and taught English as a foreign language in Greece, Mexico and France. This led on to a successful career writing and illustrating award winning language books.


When my family flew the nest I found myself in search of a new challenge and it was friends who pointed the way to a new career. I like to give them hand made gifts at Christmas and used my new found skills (acquired from the jewellery making course I did at Leeds College of Art & Design) to make bookmarks of their favourite animals. I put each one inside a card and drew a scene around the animal and it was from there that my card business started to take shape.

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Zig zag fold card and stainless steel bookmark gift

So, I had a product but next came the challenge of turning it into a business and creating a brand and I had to drag myself (kicking and screaming) into the 21st century by learning computing skills to facilitate production and promotion.

The name Yoojoo appeared after a moment of self doubt about my illustrating skills when a friend uttered the wise words; “Look, you either use it or you lose it!”. This sparked the idea that you also use a bookmark or lose your page and the ‘oo’ sound in ‘use’ and ‘lose’ started spinning around in my head, got mixed up with Jue (which some people call me) and suddenly the word ‘Yoojoo’ appeared!

It hasn’t been easy starting again but I have enjoyed the journey (friends would probably question this remark as they get to listen to me whinging as I grapple with each new challenge!) and I am proud of the greeting card company that I have created, and the awards that it has won.
The one thing I don’t like about running a business is having my photo taken!

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A very young Julie receiving the English Speaking Union Award from Prince Philip in 1992

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A much older Julie with her British Craft Trade Fair Greeting Card Award certificate in 2016

Meet the maker

Trying to be invisible!

Yoojoo will be at the Design@HEART Art and Craft Fair on Saturday 9th June.