Artist’s Bio and the Artist Statement
If you are 15 years old or older, it is important for you to generate both an Artist’s Bio, and an Artist’s Statement. Both are pithy, well-written essays.
Those of you living beyond college and entry-level jobs can’t ignore these burdens, either. Like any collegiate, you, too, must sit down and write such essays for the benefit of your own practice and life as artist. It is important, in fact, that you write such declarations no matter what stage of life you’re in, no matter what age, no matter what level of skill and sense-abilities you now have, or don’t have. The key instruments in question are the Artist’s Bio and the Artist’s Statement. Here are the key distinctions that matter, at least in principal:
An Artist’s Bio (short for Artist’s Biography) is not so much an essay as it is an exposé or report. It contains brief, often chronological details about your practice as artist—everything from training, to preferred media and methods, to production and projects, to future aspirations. It can be presented in the form of a resume, or carry more of an introductory essay. Other versions may include pages and pages listing your training, exhibitions, awards, etc. The Artist’s Bio stresses your past and current endeavors.
When drafting an Artist’s Bio, you will need to consider the following questions:
- When did you begin your practice? Where? Under whom? How?
- Are your practicing now? How? Where?
- What are your areas of practice, and how do they relate to each other?
- How do you explain/defend non-productive periods in your life?
- What are you doing with your practice now?
- Where have you shown your work? Why?
- Any awards?
An Artist’s Statement is more abstract and philosophical; it accents how you practice a form(s) of art, and when, where and why. It is much more difficult to generate and write, but much more important to your development as artist. That’s because an Artist’s Statement is forward looking…
When drafting an Artist’s Statement, you will need to consider the following questions:
- What is your definition of artistic practice?
- What is your practice all about?
- Why is it important to you?
- How have you committed to artistic practice, and why?
- What do you hope to gain/offer through your artistic practice? To whom/ How? When?
A Word of Caution
Please note that many smart folks in the arts fail to make the distinction between these two types of declarations; they often request and expect essays that simultaneously address the contents of both an Artist’s Bio and an Artist’s Statement. To be sure, take time to break down any questions asked of you, and then digest the hidden premises that lie behind those questions.
How to Tool Yourself
You must develop very strong writing skills before, and as you write, your reports/essays. Skillful writing is a process. Allow draft after draft to force you to straighten out your thoughts about your experiences, commitments, and aspirations as a creative force.
In order to understand yourself as artist, and to then relay that understanding to others powerfully, you must develop insights about yourself. That is why it is important that you speak with someone else—such as a more experienced practitioner or teacher—about your practice before you sit down to draft your thoughts on paper or on screen.
To best produce your Artist’s Bio and Artist’s Statement, be sure to immediately log your latest training, shows, travel, awards, etc. in a computerized and backed-up file. This ongoing file should list every event/occasion by name or title, place, time, people involved, your role, etc. Don’t forget to carefully log media reports (newspaper blurbs, online blogs, etc.) that list your name as participant.
You will NOT be able to develop an Artist’s Bio or an Artist’s Statement in a matter of two or three hours. Even if you have all the facts on file, the production of such reports/essays takes time. This game requires several drafts based on long conversations with other fellow artists, as well as many experiments. Seek to produce tight, clear, rational and pithy declarations about what you do as artist, and why. Get to it now, before you run out of time.
Two Things to Avoid
A. When producing your essays, avoid old, tired, cliché answers like the plague. A sample of statements that will kill all your chances for respect and admiration as artist include, but are not limited, to the following:
- I have loved art ever since I was little…
- Art allows me to express myself…
- Making Art makes me feel relaxed…
- Art is important/good/necessary in our communities
- I am talented…
Oh my. We could add another half-million shallow, bland, defenseless statements along these lines. The bottom line is, don’t rely on them!
B. Never capitalize the word art like this: Art. The German language may do so, but we don’t’ do it in English. If you dare to do so, be prepared to speedily explain why you are doing so (good luck!).
Commit to Sit and Write
Remember, an artist’s Bio and an Artist’s Statement are organic, living testaments. They will change as you change. Keep copies of your declarations as they develop across time. Keep refining your stance on the matter. Keep growing in your craft.
Finally, keep in mind that the person who most benefits from your declarations is YOU. Keep your bios and statements in readily accessible computer files and revisit them about twice per year; take such times to refine your thoughts and ideas about yourself and your practice. DO this and you will become unstoppable.
Please do call for an appointment with Ana, AAHP Director/Chief Instructor, if you wish to discuss these matters further.
Ana E. Soto-Canino