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How to Write an Artist Statement for Your Photography

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/23/2011

Here are a few tips on how to write an artist statement for your photography work.

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    Photography Artist Statement

    When working in gallery-focused photography and art, there are a lot of things you have to do to communicate yourself as an artist, prepare for the gallery, and communicate with the media and audience. One of these is preparing a photography artist statement that will help to communicate some information about your work, specifically your intent and perspective. This is going to be an incredibly important part of all art because people will not always have all the information with which to interpret your work and they need a common language to discuss it. This artist statement is also going to stand out as one of the most important ways that you market yourself as an art photographer, and can even help you get a photography job later on. Here are a few tips on how to write an artist statement for your photographic work.

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    Length

    For those learning how to write an artist statement for their photography, the first principle that you have to follow is brevity in a general sense. You do not want your photography artist statement to go on more than a few paragraphs, maxing out at a page. If you look at any artist statement examples, you will notice that they get directly to the point, outlining only the relevant information about the work. Compare this against any artist statement examples that go on longer than a page and you will notice that the longer ones tend to indicate a lack of understanding from the artist and the ability to market themselves.

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    Description

    Along with being clear and concise, you want to actually describe the work exterior from you. This can mean a full third-person perspective, or just an outside form of description that allows you to discuss it with a sense of objectivity. This goes along with a certain amount of confidence in your work, which should be one of the primary things when considering how to write an artist statement. Do not list that you were "trying" to do something, but instead say things like "the work explores..." Really write the elements as if you were writing a description in an art magazine, but obviously with the kind of self-aware insight that only you, as the artist, could have. In general, try to keep the language in your artist statement somewhat powerful with declarations about what you are doing in your work. This does not mean that there should be a conceded attitude, but instead a strong sense of your intention.

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    Elements

    The question of how to write an artist statement is also specific to the kind of art you are doing. Many kinds of artist statement examples that you will come across will actually be quite different because of the different types of gallery art, but there are some commonalities that you should consider when writing a photography artist statement. First, start out by mentioning that this is photographic work and if there is anything unique about your photographic process then you should include this.

    Next, you need to go into the most important part of your artist statement, which lists exactly what your work is saying and why it is unique. This should also be itemized and not longer than a paragraph, but is really where you are going to tell the bulk of reference for your material. From here, go on to list how your work accomplishes your goals and really matches against other work in the field. You can add some personal information about your development, but if you do this, you want to keep it relatively simple. Most artist statement examples that do include this will be things that are incredibly personal, but it has to be short additions otherwise there will not be enough interest in the personal elements. Make sure everything is directly involved with the work you are doing. For example, if you are presenting underwater photography and a personal event influenced your choice to do the work submerged then it would be relevant.

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    Who Needs an Artist Statement?

    Many people think that a photography artist statement is only for fine art photography, but really it is for anything that is going to be seen in an installation, gallery, or artist presentation. This can be for things like photojournalism in the right presentation, and especially things like constructed image photography. When you are figuring out how to write an artist statement for this kind of work, you can use the same features, yet skewed to the type of work that you are doing.

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    References

    Source: Author's own experience.