Friday, March 29, 2019

Lecture: The Write Stuff - Megan Guerber

Learning to write a more effective artist's statement. Writing is a skill that can be learned

What is the point of artists' statements?
  • Explains your work when you aren’t there
  • Informs audiences what you made & why
  • Used by curators etc to know if work is a good fit
  • Used to promote show
  • Used by scholars, critics, students
  • Marketing tool
How to begin 
  • Write a draft
  • Revise draft
  • Check for spelling, grammar, formatting erros
  • Get feedback
  • Revise
  • Check for errors again
  • Writing an artists statement is an iterative process
     How to approach it:
  • Remember you are writing this for people who don't know anything about you or your work. Explain so anyone can understand your work
  • Write how you talk (use common language)
  • Write in the first person
  • Avoid generalize statemtns, especially ones that many artists share ("I love color!") Be specific. Focus on the important ideas you are expressing
  • Be honest. Work doesn't have to provide the meaning of life to be valuable or interesting. If your work is about perfecting handles, say that.
  • You don't have to reinvent the wheel. You can follow the structure of an artists' statement that you like. Use template?

  • Free write
  • Or free talk! Explain your work to a friend to clarify your ideas
  • When starting draft, focus on clarity rather than spelling or grammar
  • Get your thoughts down first

To get ideas, read alot

  • Other artists' statements
  • Books, magazines (Ceramics Monthly has lots of artist-statement-y articles)
  • Articulate storytellers

Questions to ask yourself when writing

  • Why did I make this work? What response do I hope to invoke?
  • What do people need to know to understand this work?
  • Explain references you make in your work, technique, materials
  • Which aspects of my work are most important for people to take away?
  • People have limited time, be concise & get to what you really want people to know
  • You aren't trying to impress. You are trying to communicate
  • How would you explain your art to your grandpa
  • Imagine a person who isn't a part of your inner circle, nor in the clay world

Examples of artists' statements

  • Risa Pumo: I make…I like to think about…I hope to create…The key to understanding my work
  • Ayumo Horie: My work attempts to…I use ____as a form to…
  • Doug Johnson: I have been focused on…The work utilizes ------history….I have worked to build a vocabulary


  • First sentence: what do you make
  • 2nd: Why do you make it? What inspires you?
  • What do people need to know to understand your work
  • Why does you work matter today? How does it fit into the world?


  • Wait at least a half hour, better longer
  • Get spelling & grammar right

Get feedback

  • Be sure to ask pointed questions to get the feedback you need
    • What do you understand about the intent of this work
    • Are there parts you don't understand
    • What is your takeaway?
  • Feedback isn't personal
  • The goal of your statement is to convey the meaning of your work, it's not an art object itself
  • Even editors need editors

No comments: