Saturday, April 23, 2016

Spring cleaning artist tools

Petty Harbour II and St. John's Harbour

No, these are not the tools that you make art with however, indirectly you do, as they are an integral part of what you create. They are the written tools that are essential to every artist who is involved in presenting art publicly.  An artist statement, an art resume and a biography are the documents that most galleries, juried exhibitions or competitions ask to accompany image submission.

The artist statement
This needs to be updated at least annually, more if you're very active in the art world.  The one that seems to provide the most headaches is the artist statement.  Basically, it is a short explanation of the thought or meaning behind the art that the viewer is seeing.  It can be full of "art speak" which the video below pokes fun at so well, proving just how confusing and pointless it is to over explain in terms that aren't clear.  Thankfully, the trend now is usually more towards simple explanations of what, why and how you create what you do.  A couple of paragraphs at best works well, as no one will stand there and read for 20 minutes. The statement and/or biography are often placed next to your work in a gallery or show.

If your style and medium never change, it makes life easier to create and tweak artist statements, but artists evolve over time, special events, themes or requests happen and for those a different artist statement is needed.

The art resume
An art resume is a replica of a work resume, but all art related. There should be no reference to a position outside the art industry on this document unless it is linked closely with the art world - i.e. if you were a gallery curator, museum collector, etc.  Education, training, exhibitions, grants, etc., are all listed.  Art resumes can take up a dozen pages or more which are fine for your own records, but most organizations who want to see that document are looking for information on recent work and activities and restrict submission to three pages.  Less is more.  If you go for overkill and send in a dozen pages, you'll likely end up in the bin.

The artist biography
A biography is similar to an artist statement, only you're talking about yourself.  It consists of a couple of paragraphs that sum up your artistic background, involvement and activity and provide a snapshot for those wanting a quick overview of the artist.

You can view and download my working documents on my website at

The elevator pitch
This is a sentence or three that sums up what you do if someone asks and you have a brief period of time to tell them - like on an elevator ride.  If you don't have your pitch made, its time to consider it.  Think of adjectives that describe what you do; what your strengths are or what do you sell or make.  What makes you unique?  You're create a visual image in words for your audience so they can "see" what you do.  It helps to have business cards as well as an image or two available to show, especially as mobile phones are so common these days, you can easily pop an image or two of your best work on there to have available.

What's my elevator pitch?   

 I am impressionist painter, creating textural paintings of boats and water in oils using only a palette knife.  I also teach classic drawing and painting techniques.

What is your elevator pitch?  Do you have an art resume, biography and artist statement that tell more about you and your work?