Bios, artist statements

BIOGRAPHY

An artist biography is essentially a very brief summary of how you got to where you are in life. It generally consists of one to two paragraphs and is usually around one half of a page. A biography consists of information such as where you went to school, what degrees you have, when you earned them, if you’ve led any workshops or participated in any workshops, major exhibitions where your artwork has been exhibited and any major collections that your work is a part of. A biography is a quick summary of your resume.

1. Go through your resume and highlight your most important accomplishments such as getting your art degree, where you got it from and when. Highlight any major awards and any major collections your work is a part of. Highlight significant workshops you have participated in and any major shows, especially recent solo exhibitions.

2. List the information that you want to include in your biography. Then start writing out sentences briefly describing each point. Usually you start with where you went to school and when and what type of degree you earned. Then you write about the exhibitions, workshops and collections. Finally you end with where you currently are….are you taking additional art classes? Are you working on a grant? Are you working on a major commission?

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Excerpted from: http://www.icc.edu/art/writingAnArtistBiography.asp

ARTIST STATEMENTS

Suggested outline for one page statement:

Paragraph 1: Introduction and summary (possible format)
Answer the following questions in 3-5 sentences:
-What content/phenomenon/principle/politics drives your work?
-What field(s) and/or discipline(s) do you see your practice aligned with?
-What medium or mediums are employed in your practice?
-What message, if any, would you like your work to communicate to the viewer? (This message could be political, cultural, personal, etc.)

Paragraph 2: Specific details of particular works that expand and build on what you describe in Paragraph 1
-Describe 2-4 of your recent works (1-2 sentences per work) in the context of how this work fits into your general area/discipline of interest
-Describe the context (gallery, film festival, furniture show, public park, bar?) that best fits your work, particularly if you work in a non-gallery context.
-If you have been drawn to your medium for any political/personal/cultural reasons, define those. For example, if your work is primarily shown online try to describe why you are drawn to the Internet as exhibition space.

Paragraph 3: Current projects in progress and future work
-Describe your current work in progress and how it expands the previous body of work. Try to describe this work in 2-3 sentences.
-If you see your work developing in a different or more focused direction in the future describe in detail that transformation or change.

ARTIST STATEMENT TIPS

from How to Write An Artist’s Statement That Doesn’t Suck by Hannah Piper Burns. Online at: http://theabundantartist.com/how-to-write-an-artists-statement-that-doesnt-suck/

(…) Here are five tips for improving any artist statement:

1. Start Off With a Bang
Almost every artist statement I have ever read starts out with the words “My work is”, “My painting/drawing/sculpture/video/performance is inspired by”, or “In my work”. I hereby call an official moratorium on all of these openers! In a competitive field like this one, you need to stand out from the pack. When a dealer or curator or jury or grant committee flips through page after page of statements, you want yours to be a breath of fresh air.

2. Less is More
Seriously! My own artist statement is six healthy sentences long. I find that many artists hide behind verbosity, as if the more they write, the closer they can get to the truth. But if people need to read paragraph after paragraph, they might think your work can’t hold up on its own, and that is a big-time kiss of death. A big part of what I do with other people’s artist statements is trim sentences and words like so much fat off of a steak. Nobody, from dealers to curators to your audience to your own mother, wants to read a novel to get a gist of the work. So keep it short and sweet!

3. Learn to Love Language
Short doesn’t have to mean content-less: Maximize your impact with unique, fascinating verbiage. You’re an artist, after all! Make sure you have both long and short sentences, which create a syncopated rhythm that is enjoyable to read. Please, whenever possible, use active rather than passive tense, and find verbs and adjectives that really strike to the heart of what it is you do. Thesaurus.com, Dictionary.com, and Etymonline are your friends. Personally, I always love statements that utilize onomatopoeia, like “ooze”, “slither”, “flush”, et cetera. Which brings me to my next point:

4. The Words Should Match the Work
Is your work whimsical? Or is it violent? What is the scale? Make sure your prose reflects the qualities of what it describes. Using verbs and adjectives that really match the qualities of your creative output will create a statement that both excites and informs. Have you found a great quote from an artist, writer, philosopher, or theologian that you feel speaks to your process, form, or content? Consider using it as an introduction to your statement, or even as the statement itself! I recommend looking for inspiration online or in the art theory books gathering dust on your shelves.

5. Get a Second Opinion
Just like when we make artwork, sometimes we are so involved in the process of writing a statement that it can be hard to be objective. Make sure you get a fresh pair of eyes to look over your statement before you publish it or send it out. Try reading it aloud while showing some images or clips. That why, you can get a better sense of the rhythm and flow of the prose while your critic can see how well the words actually match the work.