Today someone sent me a link to a website service where you can create a boilerplate artist statement in half-a-minute. You just pick a genre or two and words appear for you to copy.

Say you pick “abstraction.” Here in part is what pops up:

“By applying abstraction, Doe creates intense personal moments masterfully created by means of rules and omissions, acceptance and refusal, luring the viewer round and round in circles.”

If you pick “romanticism” in part you get:

“His are often classified as part of the new romantic movement because of the desire for the local in the unfolding globalized world. However, this reference is not intentional, as this kind of art is part of the collective memory.”

Excuse me?

The person who kindly sent me the url wrote, “Just thought you might be interested in this horrible website when you discuss the now-prevalent demand that artists have a statement for each and every thing that they apply for. I don’t know if it’s meant as irony (in which case it’s biting and amusing) or as serious (in which case it’s scary and deplorable).”

Let me not give the site’s url because I prefer not to send it any business. I have no idea if this is meant to be a real service or a bit of playful irony poking a sharp finger at the absurdity of the task facing artists. Artists are somehow supposed to be able to say something interesting and meaningful about their images. What an odd task and what a frustrating task for artists who just want to say, “Here, take a look! It’s visual, for gosh sake! Just take a look.”

I’ve worked with creativity coaching clients who’ve spent an agonizingly long amount of time trying to create their artist’s statement, sometimes stretching the ordeal out over months and even years. The headline? Sit down and do it! It is an odd, onerous task but it doesn’t get less odd or onerous by not attending to it. Bite the bullet and try your darnedest to say something intelligible and reasonable.

If you want to set the bar higher, try to make it smart, beautiful, and memorable. But remember how odd the task is: to use words to explain images. In an ideal world you would simply be able to point and say, “Look!” In our art marketplace, however, an artist’s statement appears to be unavoidable task—and one that is best handled as expeditiously as possible. But not quite this expeditiously!


Please take a look at the reviews of my latest book for artists, MAKING YOUR CREATIVE MARK. Take a peek:



Share This