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The purpose of Artist's statements?


#1

I was accepted into a very nice guild that is requiring me to
provide them with an artist’s statement (that they will put on
display in their store along with my work). I’ve heard other
artists claim that changing/improving their sales by
changing/improving their artist’s statement (so I guess it was
written as marketing material).

So I ask you all: what is the purpose of this artist’s statement? Is
it so the customer knows a little more about the process, materials
used to make the art, a compelling marketing statement, or something
else??

Thanks, Elizabeth
www.borntobeworn.com


#2

Elizabeth,

Lots of people with differing agendas ask for artist statements.
Though the general idea of an artist statement is to give
you do need to ask yourself who the is
for.

If the is for a jury who will judge the work you should
give that will help clarify what they are seeing in the
slides. If the is for the general public, the
should be tailored to them. If the is to
be included in a publication that is displaying photos of your
work, the should convey ideas that will clarify what
viewers see and contextualize the images with the concepts of the
artist.

If the statement is to be placed in a store near your work, you
should give pertinent to potential buyers and perhaps
less educated staff members. If you want to call this marketing I
can see the argument for that, but I think more informed collectors
and staff will see attempts to substitute for fluff and
discount it for what it is. Most important is conveying why your
work is different and what makes it special.

Craft is personal. The more closely the buyer feels kinship with
the producer, the more likely they are to maintain their attention
long enough to make a buying decision. So, if you feel it’s boring
to list technical details of process, keep that to a minimum and
include more personal, but relevant

Here are some examples of 3 of my own “statements of artistic
priorities” as I call my artist statements.

20 word artist statement:

  A contemporary design vision made of precious materials and
  niello, using  the least number of electrically powered tools
  possible. 

50 word statement:

  I desire to create work that mixes goldsmithing virtuosity 
  with minimalist design using precious materials and niello. 
  Every step  is performed by hand using as few electrical
  devices as possible.  I  make my own niello and gold alloys. 
  The goal is to create, in metal,  a natural, graphic paper-like
  look. 

artist statement used at shows:

  Each piece of jewelry in my collection is created solely by me
  at my  studio in North Carolina. Every step from creating my
  own special alloys to  design and final finishing is performed
  with the goal of creating the next  generation of American
  heirlooms.  

No molds are used in the creation of my work. I use traditional
goldsmithing hand tools as well as self-made, nontraditional tools
to give my work its distinctive look. Attention to quality is
important enough to require a microscope for many of the more
detailed techniques. The work that calls for mechanisms uses custom
designed, intricately made catches and hinges. This is a hallmark of
my work.

I use platinum, high karat gold in many colors and also niello, a
traditional alloy prized for its unique properties by generations of
metalsmiths across the globe. My work has been influenced by 4 master
jewelers I’ve apprenticed with, both American and European who have
handed down and taught me traditional and contemporary techniques.
Gemstones sprinkled throughout accent the preciousness of the work.

My desire is to create work that mixes goldsmithing virtuosity,
minimalist design and practical comfort in a way that has never
before been executed or exhibited. Therefore, inherent in my work is
that every aspect of every piece, front to back, should be
interesting and integrated. Nothing should be overlooked or
neglected.

Questions are welcomed and encouraged.

My experience is that judges and men make up 99 percent of the
people who take the time to read the artist at a show,
so the statement above is geared more toward them. I’ve written
many artist statements. These are the only ones I’ve saved on my
computer. I usually write a new one for each request … unless I
have a headache.

Lastly, an interesting and helpful link for about artist
statements at shows can be found at:

Good luck
Larry Seiger


#3

Hello Elizabeth,

You should ask the guild how they use the statement and what they
like. You could read some of the existing statements considered to
be good examples. Find out whatever they see as improving sales
appeal and use that format.

Best of luck,
Judy in Kansas


#4

This brings up a subject that I have been trying to deal with for
some time. In Art school, one of the things we learn is how to BS
well. I’ve written many “Artist’s Statements” over the years, but
lately it all just seems like too much. I am feeling lately that if
you look closely at the work, everything you need to know about the
artist is there. The best Artist statement I saw was “Was born. Am
living. Will die.”

That’s all there is…
-BK in AK


#5

Hi Elizabeth,

I am just beginning to market my work, and an artist bio or
statement was one of the first items I developed. I agree that
understanding your audience is an essential component in writing your
statement. I did lots of research on other artists that were
displaying or selling at my target venues, and I read every bio
available. I tailored my statement to what the venue or catalog
emphasized - materials used, inspiration and motivation . . .

Also in my initial stages of research for my biz plan I looked for
articles on the marketability of the type of work I design. I came
across several articles that discussed the emotional connection
between jewelry and finalizing a sale - in other words creating a
story about the piece or artist that jewelry buyers can connect with.
My work has mythological and metaphysical attributes so a story about
myself and each piece fits well with what I do.

As an aside, I am new to Orchid and am awed, inspired by and
grateful for the wealth of knowledge available to us all - Wow!
Thanks to all!

Wishing you all the best,

Laura Gasparrini
Om Tara! Jewelry & Finery
Celebrate the Divine Within!
laura@omtara.com
www.omtara.com


#6
Also in my initial stages of research for my biz plan I looked for
articles on the marketability of the type of work I design. I came
across several articles that discussed the emotional connection
between jewelry and finalizing a sale - in other words creating a
story about the piece or artist that jewelry buyers can connect with.

I also pondered “Artist’s Statement” but moved on to a more broad
marketing approach, since I was not involved in a guild; none of my
galleries required a Statement, although one or two display nice bio
cards with the work. I do think some collectors like Artist’s
Statements, but I guess I wouldn’t lose much sleep over it (I know
lots of creative people who seem to get really bogged down by
writing so it strangles them - in rock climbing we call it “getting
gripped”!).

I think in terms of marketing to a broad audience, the above
statement is more appropriate - I think what Laura described in
marketing terms above is the “Essential Selling Advantage.” This is
the thing that you need to come up with, such as metaphysical
properties, as Laura says hers is, that indicates to your customer
why your work is different and/or better than the competition. The
best Essential Selling Advantage example in mainstream marketing is
actually also one of the best tag lines: Baskin-Robbins 31-derful
Flavors. Sez it all.

I had no problem developing my “brand identity,” and then from that
the taglines and customers ID, but I had a hard time with the
Essential Selling Advantage (which is not something you necessarily
use in advertising or in a tag line, it’s just something to guide
your choices when you create marketing materials).

The Desert Rose brand is: “Unique and stylish art jewelry that makes
the wearer feel as beautiful and special as the Western landscapes
that inspire Desert Rose=B9s designs.”

Tag lines:

  • Unique & stylish jewelry for the modern Western woman.
  • Turning heads around the West
  • Not all jewelry is created equal . . . some is created Western.
  • Own a new Western classic.

My Essential Selling Advantage: Jewelry out of the ordinary,
guaranteed to get noticed.

I used all these to choose How to deliver the brand; choose Who my
customers are; How to reach them (marketing vehicles).

So far this is working much too well - my marketing horse got way
too far ahead of my production cart and I’m a -catchin’ up!!

Roseann

Roseann Hanson
Desert Rose Design Studio
www.desertrosedesignstudio.com
Tucson, Arizona
520-591-0508


#7

In my last post, I wrote before finishing my first dose of
caffeine…so I didn’t clarify that I do consider the Artist
Statement to be an important form of marketing - it’s just one way to
clarify who you are and what you do, so that you can find your
audience (jewelry buyers, art collectors, or judges) and so that they
know what you do and who you are. I am not making jewelry for
competitions, but for women and men who love jewelry, so I need a
more mainstream marketing approach.

Roseann
Roseann Hanson
Desert Rose Design Studio
www.desertrosedesignstudio.com
Tucson, Arizona
520-591-0508


#8

Continue from:
https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/the-purpose-of-artists-statements

 I am feeling lately that if you look closely at the  work,
everything you need to know about the artist is there. 

ah brent -

but you have to remember that we are trying to educate people who
ask questions such as:

  • looking at an opal piece - “is this that dahakrowick gless i heard
    about?”

  • looking at an intricately cut & soldered design - “how’d you get
    all those pieces glued together like that?”

  • looking at a baltic amber design - “boy, they sure do make this
    stuff look real don’t they?”

  • after reading a small sign stating everything was designed & made
    by the artist - “so, did you make some of this?”

so, brent - some days we need to either try to educate with a
statement or have a friend tie our hands together behind our backs
to prevent us from choking potential buyers.

ive

who returned from tucson yesterday after a 54 day ‘odyssey from hell’
involving a partner; a motorhome; a 12’ x 8’ trailer loaded with
6000+ pounds of rocks/etc; very high steep,
sheer-sided-dropoff-narrow mountain roads; a new transmission.
lesson: a steady diet of 300 feet high abject terror is not good for
an acrophobiac.


#9

I got a real chuckle out of Ive’s comments. I too get besieged with
queries about my keum boo, reticulation, and especially my enamels.
Therefore my artist’s statement." consists solely of historical and
technical explanations of my work, and why I chose to utilize those
techniques.

It is very gratifying to find that many customers are really
interested in these matters. I get a lot of questions as to how I
made a particular piece, and am always glad to explain. In fact, one
of my best customers is a woman who queries me in detail about my
work, and takes notes about the pieces she purchases.

So, to sum up. There are “artist’s statements,” and" artist’s
statements," and the one that works best for me is one that educates
the public about what I do.

Alma


#10

Ive,

Your point is certainly well taken. I sometimes forget that not
everyone is as perceptive as we are on this forum, and the vast
majority of our customers do not understand what it takes to create
and make the things that we do. One of my co workers remarked that a
statement helps a potential customer to feel more connected to the
artist whose work they are contemplating purchasing. All true.

I think my comment goes to obviously phony, cliched statements that
really don’t improve our understanding of the work. Sometimes these
kinds of things actually obscure the meaning and intent that maybe
isn’t there to begin with. Bad work cannot be made better by a
clever “ceartsy” sounding statement. Education, yes. Obfuscation,
No!

-BK in AK


#11

Brent,

I have been following this thread on Artist’s statements; an evil
piece of paper intended to identify my “art” in art school.
Right…like I knew what I was doing in art school. As much as they
are annoying at times, it does serve two purposes. As the reader,
well written statements can give the viewer insight into the
artists’ world. As the writer, it can provide focus for the work you
are doing. The question is, who is the artist statement for? The
artist, or the person selling your art.

Either way, its really just a marketing tool.

-k

Karen Christians
M E T A L W E R X
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
http://www.metalwerx.com/
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio


#12

I think my comment goes to obviously phony, cliched statements that
really don’t improve our understanding of the work. Sometimes these
kinds of things actually obscure the meaning and intent that maybe
isn’t there to begin with. Bad work cannot be made better by a clever
"ceartsy" sounding statement. Education, yes. Obfuscation, No!

Yes, some "artist’s staI think my comment goes to obviously phony,
cliched statements that really don’t improve our understanding of the
work. Sometimes these kinds of things actually obscure the meaning
and intent that maybe isn’t there to begin with. Bad work cannot be
made better by a clever “ceartsy” sounding statement. Education, yes.
Obfuscation, No!

Yes, some “artist’s statements” are wonders of jargon and buzzspeak.
An embarassment! But I think it is also good to remember that, as a
group, we are (with any luck) visual, not verbal. What we express,
we express in our work. The world often demands that we try to also
express our ideas in language, and if that were what we wanted to
do, we’d be writers. So, in an effort to put a non-verbal process
into written form and “sound like an artist”, people write these
useless statements. It would not happen if we were not forced to try
to define and specify things that are necessarily nebulous, complex
and ambiguous. Or at least, non-verbal!

–Noel


#13

Hello,

I can tell you this about the artists statements or enclosure
card…

When someone purchases an item in our gallery and I enclose a card
or"statement" with the item, they LOVE it! It CONNECTS them to the
artist. I can not express this enough.

Sometimes the artist will have their photo on the card thanking them
for purchasing their piece, (because after all the consumer has many
choices to say the least), care instructions, what might have
inspired the artist or perhaps this piece is named…who knows but it
works.

Laurie


#14

Thanks for this explanation – it’s very helpful in explaining the
use of “artist cards” that shops frequently request. My original
post was prompted by artist statements required for shows/galleries
(to get in) – I’m still struggling with this because I’m not much
of a “new age” type – so I will talk about the work. I’m not sure
as to my influences (and that’s the part that they seem to want to
know, but I don’t)!

Elizabeth


#15
But I think it is also good to remember that, as a  group, we are
(with any luck) visual,  not  verbal. What we express,  we express
in our work. The world often demands that we try to also  express
our ideas in language, and if that were what we wanted to do, we'd
be writers.

Yes, it’s often difficult and as frustrating as trying to write with
your non-dominant hand. But if you force yourself to do it, you will
often find an insight into the psychology behind your work that had
never reached your conscious mind. As “visual” people our sources of
inspiration are often subconscious. We may initially think we know
perfectly well where an idea came from. Having to write about it can
be an agonizing search through the subtleties of language and
"almost-but-not-quite right" verbal equivalents. But the strain of
having to come up with words that can express the “nebulous and
ambiguous” will uncover surprising reasons behind what you have
created: often touching on issues that you have not yet dared to
address in the sensible, caught up in daily life, upper levels of
your mind.

For an artist it can perform some of the same functions as a
journal: to clarify one’s thoughts and uncover what is really going
on. Try it: the process is torture, but the results are worth the
effort.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”. —Socrates

Lin Lahlum


#16
 I'm not sure as to my influences (and that's the part that they
seem to want to know, but I don't)! 

Influences are all around us.

You can be influenced by a particular art genre (paleolithic art,
for instance, or Dada), it can be architecture of a particular time
(Gaudi or Modernist), it can be nature (particular species or a
particular season), it can be nostalgia (for a particular culture
like Victorian, or your mother’s jewel box), it can be fantasy, from
a world of your own, where everyone would dress according to your
imagination and wear your jewelry, it can be Shamanic, where your
pieces are created to draw something in the world to you or to your
client.

You can be influenced by a particular culture or sub culture, and be
moved to create specifically for them, like Harley Davidson riders,
or pink martini drinking beach combers, or Goths or Punks or
Christians or Republicans or surfers or Muslims or trade unionists
or little girls or frat boys. Someone mentioned trophy wives.
Independent women might be an even bigger market.

You can be influenced by the feel of the metal (or whatever material
you use) and its qualities: how it bends, folds, polishes, cuts,
melts.

You can be influenced by another artist, and do an homage to that
person. (don’t just be a copycat…name your sources and
influences).

You can be influenced by the human body and the way it moves and
interested in creating adornment for fluid movement. Or you can
create a whole series of work aimed at creating a constraint of
movement, however you read that sentence.

If you don’t take some time to become conscious of your influences,
and what you are drawn to and how this affects your creativity then
you will more likely be just making stuff. It IS possible that ones
unconscious can be so brimming with ideas that we can just let it go
into the material we work with and not think about it, but usually
the work becomes more mature if we become conscious of our sources,
resources and influences, and spend some time cultivating them, or
at least acknowledging them.

Put your work out and look at it. What, in your world, does it make
you think of?

Do you dream the work? Where do your ideas come from?

To articulate the source can be the delicious key of welcome into
your work. Don’t deny yourself and your viewer of this whole world
or identification that the wearer can have with the work. Craft your
stories while you craft your work.

Silani


#17

Silani,

There is so much food for thought in your response to my question
that I literally could not read the entire post in one sitting! You
have given me (and others) quite a bit to think about – thank you!

Elizabeth
www.borntobeworn.com


#18
    When someone purchases an item in our gallery and I enclose a
card or "statement" with the item, they LOVE it! It CONNECTS them
to the rtist. I can not express this enough. 

I make a lot of cast production pieces based on symbols from ancient
cultures. At shows, I often print up little descriptions about the
meaning of these symbols (as well as their prices) and arrange them
all over my displays. People really seem to enjoy reading about the
various designs, and a lot of folks will ask if I have a little card
with the “story” on it (haven’t yet, but I will now). These little
pins are quite inexpensive, just $10 - $20, but I think many people
like the idea of the jewelry piece with its card as a meaningful
gift. (And telling them to go to the website just doesn’t cut
it…)

Cheers,
Jessee Smith (who is having way too much fun posting today)
www.silverspotstudio.com
Cincinnati, Ohio


#19
    I make a lot of cast production pieces based on symbols from
ancient cultures. At shows, I often print up little descriptions
about the meaning of these symbols (as well as their prices) and
arrange them all over my displays. People really seem to enjoy
reading about the various designs, and a lot of folks will ask if I
have a little card with the "story" on it (haven't yet, but I will
now). These little pins are quite inexpensive, just $10 - $20, but
I think many people like the idea of the jewelry piece with its
card as a meaningful gift.   (And telling them to go to the website
just doesn't cut it...) 

It’s true, Jessee! After reading your description of your “Fly of
Valor” pin, I might just have to have one. A fly pin! Imagine
that…as the power of marketing.

Roseann

Who, like Gerry Galarneau, is enjoying Sonoran Desert spring in full
glory, with zooming hummingbirds (seven species and counting!),
singing orioles, and lusty skunks (long story, but we had some
serious skunk amore out by the BBQ last night…)