Your Artist Statement: Why You Need One and Where You Can Use it

by Adam Eisenstat

An artist statement is a concise written summary of your work that sets the tone for your brand story and marketing messages. Ultimately, the point of an artist statement is make others more interested in your work.


Your Artist Statement


Some artists may look askance at the whole idea of reducing their work to a set of verbal descriptions, believing that their work “speaks for itself.” But no art speaks for itself; it is defined by the interpretations of those who see it (your audience/prospective audience); and–to a lesser degree that you might imagine–by the artist herself.

A good artist statement, rather than dictating the meaning or message of your work, emphasizes key aspects that enhance the way others experience your art; sometimes providing crucial information that may not be obvious from the work itself (about your process or materials, for example). Most if not all artists have concrete intentions for their work and distinct ideas of what every single piece means, but you don’t need to explicitly state any of that in an artist statement to help others better appreciate your work.

Where and how can an artist statement be used?

As a vehicle for promoting your work, there are countless uses for an artist statement. Below are some of the most common ones, but the list is by no means exhaustive – there are roughly as many ways to use an artist statement as there are ways to promote your art.

Your website. Today, an artist’s website without an artist statement would register to most visitors as missing something. Having one on your site demonstrates your substance and professionalism.

Supporting collateral for your visual portfolio. An artist statement serves an important function as part of the supporting materials that go with a strong portfolio.

Grant applications. If you want to apply for any grant, you will certainly need an artist statement of some kind. Even crowdfunding sites require a written piece. While a fantastic artist statement by itself probably never secured a grant or notched a sale, a bad statement can definitely sabotage great art.

Jury submissions for art fairs. Juries and others who confer honors and access upon artists generally require an artist statement – not only as a way to better assess the candidates’ art, but also to find out how they present or “frame” their work.

Art school applications. As with any other opportunity – such as a grant or exhibition – resources and space are limited, so those choosing who’s in and who’s out use a variety of assessments to help in the selection process. In the case of two applicants with similar work of equal quality, the one with the superior artist statement might have a decided advantage.

Exhibition catalogs. A catalog is, by definition, a mesh of images and text. The main purpose – and main appeal – is to showcase the artwork. A good artist statement, though, adds context and meaning, complementing the visuals and elevating the art.

On third-party websites where you’re a contributor. Contributing your artwork to a third-party website generally means sacrificing a degree of control – regarding the layout and other elements. Your artist profile then is a key means of influencing how you’re work is presented.

Social media profiles. If you’re sharing your work on social media, you may be tempted to ditch the text but, again, a few words about your work – excerpted from your artist statement – can go a long way in enhancing the general reception of your art, and influencing any particular response you’re seeking.

Your press kit and/or press release. If you’re seeking media exposure for your work, there’s a good chance any outlet that wants to publish something about you will excerpt a portion of your artist statement verbatim; or use some portion of it even if they actually interview you. This is a great way to “activate” your statement and amplify its impact.

Does your artist statement work for you?

An artist statement should be clear, concise and focused (see my article here for more details). Revisit and evaluate your own artist statement to determine that it reflects what you want to emphasize about your work, and is ready for use in multiple ways. A well-crafted statement is an asset and important piece of collateral that supports your visual portfolio. Make sure you have an outstanding artist statement in your toolbox; if you pursue press or other exposure, you will need it!


Looking for a customized artist statement written by a professional? Artsy Shark offers customized artist statements through our Writing Services, provided by Adam Eisenstat.  He has experience as a journalist, creative writer, and marketing communications professional, forging a reputation as exceptional storyteller, expert interviewer, and persuasive communicator. Writing for artists is a longtime specialty of his. He was Director of Communications at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York. As a freelance writer/communications consultant, he has written countless artist statements, bios, grants, and more. 


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  1. Janet Dossigny says

    Dear Carolyn and Adam,
    A very interesting and useful article – it never occurred to me that my artist statement was a marketing tool, I had just thought of it as describing my own experience and processing, related to artistic expression. I have only shared it with a handful of people.
    I’m wondering if either or (preferably) both of you offer a service of reviewing and critiquing artist statements, and if so, what you would charge for that, and where can we send our artist statements to you?
    Thank you so much!!!

  2. We can certainly review/critique artist statements. There’s no set fee for this; each case would be reviewed individually. Thanks for your interest!

  3. I knew the artist statement is useful but this article opened up my eyes to how useful it is. Unfortunately I still struggle writing or even verbally trying to explain mine. After reading this I definitely need to sit down and get mine done. Is there a questionnaire to make coming up with the artist statement easier?

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