A professional biography is oftentimes your first impression. An artist biography or artist statement introduces your work to viewers, outlines your professional qualifications, and clarifies your vision and inspiration. A professional bio or artist statement that is clear, concise, and engaging can open doors for you by attracting more people to view your work.
As an added bonus, selling yourself in words can lead to selling your art. Whether you’re looking for performance gigs, commissions, gallery showings, or clients to buy your paintings, writing about yourself and your art can help you reach more potential customers around the world.
In this post Rosemary, one of Writing Rose’s professional biography writers, teaches you how to write an artist bio or an artist statement that will make you stand out. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- How to use descriptive language to write about art and artists
- What you write in a professional bio versus an artist statement (including the difference between the two)
- Good bio examples and examples of artist statements written for clients of Writing Rose
By the end of this article, you’ll have an idea about how to write a professional bio and statement for yourself.
At the end of the post, if you decide that this task doesn’t seem pleasant, that’s okay – writing really isn’t someone everyone enjoys. Writing Rose has professional biography writers that specialize in writing about art of all kinds, and we’ll show you how to hire someone to write your bio for you.
How to Write About Art and Artists
Writing about art and artists is a specialty niche. While it’s easy to enjoy art, writing about it can be difficult. Art and the artists who make it can be complex and it can be challenging to find the right words to describe them. A central part of art appreciation classes at universities is teaching people how to analyze, discuss, and write about art.
Here are some general tips about how to use language effectively when writing about art and artists. (Looking for more specific instructions on how to write an artist bio or artist statement? That’s coming up next!)
Use vivid language, descriptive adjectives, and rich phrases
Bring the art and artist to life by using powerful language. Are the pieces absorbing, ethereal, figurative, evocative? Is the artist impassioned, imaginative, fluid, refreshing? Is the display distinguished, eclectic, intense? Is the meaning intuitive, subdued? Does the artist push boundaries, do they experiment, are they a virtuoso?
If you’re looking for more ideas for words to describe art, check out this huge list.
Check definitions to make sure you’re using the right word
Sometimes, we have a slightly skewed or incomplete idea of what a word means. This is especially true for someone who has picked up a lot of vocabulary while reading and thus has deciphered the meaning of words through context clues.
The importance of knowing the full and correct meaning of each word you use came to life for me once when I working on a piece of writing for a client.
In this document, I used the word poignant. In this context, I meant to use an adjective that means meaningful. When I was self-editing, I decided to look up the word poignant. Although I had seen and used it many times before, I wanted to make sure that I was using it completely correctly.
The word poignant does refer to something being meaningful, so I was correct in that sense. However, as I read the dictionary definition, I realized the word also has a connotation with pain. Many readers who see the word poignant will associate it with the full definition and thus with pain. Pain was not in line with the rest of the meaning of the text and neither myself nor my client would want this connotation in the document.
I am grateful that I decided to look up the true meaning of this word so that I could use a more fitting adjective! Be sure to do the same with descriptors that you use in your artist bio or artist statement. My favorite dictionary to use when looking up words is Merriam-Webster – it’s also the professional standard in the writing industry.
Show, don’t tell
Don’t tell us you attended a university, show us that you experimented with mixed media as a student at a university. Don’t tell us you began watercolor painting ten years ago, show us that you have painted your way through art galleries around the region for ten years. An artist bio or artist statement that’s a narrative will capture the reader’s imagination and stand out more than a drab recitation of facts.
What is the difference between an artist statement and an artist bio? Do I need both?
Artists need both a statement and a bio because each document conveys different information and is used in different contexts. These documents should be revisited at least once a year, or sooner if the artist grows or evolves in a major way.
How to write an artist statement
An artist statement is about the art itself. What does the art say? What feelings does it evoke? How does the art take form, and how is it evolving?
You can write a statement about an artist in general. You can also write a statement about a specific piece of work, a collection of work, and the like.
Artist statements are usually written in the first person, meaning they are written from your perspective as the artist. To write in the first person, use pronouns such as I, me, my, mine, myself, we, us, and our.
Here is some information to include in your artist statement:
- An introduction to the artist
- The ideas the artist is conveying
- How the ideas are displayed or presented
- If the statement is long (multiple paragraphs), you may reiterate the main idea as a conclusion at the end
When writing your artist statement, consider who the audience will be. You might use different language or a different tone if you are attracting clients, courting gallery owners, or applying for a grant or scholarship.
To help you get started writing, ask yourself these questions. Form the paragraphs of your artist statement from their answers.
- What is my overall vision for my art?
- How do I want the audience to react to my art?
- How is my overall vision displayed in my work and in its history? How will I take that into the future?
- Does my work fit in with a larger body of work? How?
- How does my use of technique contribute to my message?
How long should my artist statement be?
Generally, artist statements are two to three paragraphs, with each paragraph containing multiple sentences. Sometimes an artist statement can be as long as a page. As a general rule, your statement should be as long as the guidelines for wherever it will be submitted state. If your existing statement is too long or too short, you will need to edit it to fit the guidelines.
How to write an artist bio
An artist bio is about you, the artist. The bio shows who you are, what inspires you, why you create, and what you’ve accomplished. I approach a professional bio like a resume but using sentences instead of bullet points.
Professional biographies are usually written in the third person. When writing your bio, pretend that you are someone else and you are describing yourself from their perspective. This can be difficult for some people! Many find it much easier to write in the first person. If this is the case, you can try writing in the first person and then editing to the third person (if you do this, be sure to hire a professional editor or proofreader to ensure that you made all the necessary edits and none of the first person perspective is left in your final piece).
Here is some information to include in your artist bio:
- Your name, of course (very important!)
- Techniques and media used in your art
- Your artistic philosophy and your inspirations
- A statement about future aspirations
- Interesting and relevant information about you
- Your qualifications – education, training, and experience
- Accomplishments and achievements such as showings, exhibitions, instillations, awards, residencies
How can I make my bio stand out?
To make your bio something that stands out and grabs the attention of whoever reads it, don’t just recite the information. Illustrate a story about what makes you an artist. Remember the section above where I said show, don’t tell? Don’t tell us you were inspired by your grandmother. Show us that she taught you how to set up an easel. Don’t tell us your first favorite artist was Kandinsky. Show us that your modern works began in middle school with a project you did with Yellow-Red-Blue.
Psst… do you need more help with first person and third person perspectives? I mean, we were taught that in school, right…but who remembers everything they were taught?! Check out this post from Grammarly to brush up your memory and get tips on how to write each way.
How should I list my galleries, exhibitions, and showings on my artist bio?
Technical or numbered information such as dates, locations, and provenance are often not meaningful to lay audiences, and sometimes monotonous to other artists. In the opinion of this professional biography writer, this sort of information is best represented in bulleted list form at the end of a biography or in its own supplemental section. You can see an example of this from one of my clients below.
It is a good idea to keep a supplemental list of achievements, awards, galleries, exhibitions, and the like to provide to interested parties. It can be a PDF document attached to your resume or CV.
How long should my artist bio be?
Generally, an artist bio should be short – less than 300 words. However, you will want to have different versions of your biography at various lengths so you can be ready for the guidelines of anyplace that may display your bio. For example, you can have a short, two-sentence tagline on a card at a gallery, a one-paragraph biography to print in a program, and a longer, more extensive biography and life history on your website. You’ll see what I mean by different lengths of biographies in the examples below!
Proofreading your professional bio or artist statement
Double-check the spelling, capitalization, and punctuation conventions of every proper noun – each specific person, place, thing, and name. You do not want an error like this to be printed and published!
Have other people read your statement and bio for you. Their fresh eyes will help you find parts that could use editing. As my example above with the word poignant shows, simple errors can obscure meaning. Ask a trusted friend or family member that’s good with writing as well as other artists to look over your documents.
You can also hire a professional editor or proofreader to look at your already-written bio or statement. See the examples of bios below for an idea of what an editor’s comments might look like.
Examples of artist bios and artist statements
Here are examples of bios and statements written for clients of Writing Rose’s professional biography writers. Each example includes the bio at various lengths. Since submissions will vary in word count, it’s good to be prepared with a bio that is descriptive and unique.
Writing Rose edited and rewrote parts of variety entertainer Martika Daniels’s press kit, including her professional bio and CV. The editor also streamlined the formatting, making her extensive experience more concise and readable. Martika’s testimonial says that the new these documents “have turned out much better. Easier to read, understand, and decreased my stress!”
Don’t you want to hire Martika after reading this awesome description of her circus stunt show?
Performance artist Jason D’Vaude hired Writing Rose to heavily edit and rewrite an existing bio to include a tagline, promotional bio, and a longer history that is included on his website. You can also see a comment by the editor that helps the artist decide which words are best to describe themselves.
Jeff Zelnio is a Chicago-based mosaic artist. His biography includes versions with two different lengths. Each one will be appropriate to submit to different places.
Each of these artists hired Writing Rose for these services. Click here to read their testimonials to see what they had to say about this professional service!
Write my biography for me
Now that you’ve read all about how to write a professional bio and artist statement, are you ready to take a look at yours? If that doesn’t seem pleasant, you can certainly hire a professional to write your bio for you. Writing Rose has writers that specialize in writing about all kinds of art, so you know you’ll get the service you’re looking for.
Already have a statement or bio that needs updating? Perhaps you want it to be looked over to ensure it’s free of errors? Do you need something that’s longer or shorter than what you’ve already got? Writing Rose can also edit or proofread your existing biography.
Check out this page to learn more about how to hire a writer, or contact Writing Rose directly by using this form.
P.S. Want some fun and laughs? You could fill out a form and generate an instant artist statement using the artybullocks generator 🙂 We’re encouraging people to share their instantly-generated statement over on our Facebook page. Check it out and let us see yours, if you’re so inclined!
Did you find this post helpful? Share it with an artist friend who is writing their professional bio.