Corporate Art Advice Art Blog
A well worded statement can be the perfect opening for your biography. Your personality will generally lead you into the construction of this brief paragraph. Many artists who have a talent to be nimble with words may decide on revealing something of their nature by playing with the media in which they work. I think one of my favorite examples is the statement by the gifted paper artist, Mary Lawler: "The nature of my work varies from time to time, but it almost always involves paper. I love paper, I write on paper, I collect paper, I hoard paper in drawers. I open a drawer, stroke the paper admiringly, then close the drawer. It's hard to put that first cut into a new sheet." Mary Lawler
In this very brief statement, she reveals her reverence for her media and her passion for doing a multitude of things with paper. It also gives a glimpse into her personality which, upon seeing her art, is reflected in her work. Another nimble tactic might be to write something succinct with a description of your approach to how you work. A great example of this is Peter Barnett:
"I am a painter of portraits and landscapes in oils. I work quickly, in sessions of about an hour, and try to capture the immediacy and truth of a given moment in light and color." Peter Barnett
In two sentences, we know that Peter is pretty much a pleine aire painter and that he is captivated by the immediacy of light and its effects on the color that surrounds him. And after looking at his work one can see that he is quick in applying his observations to canvas quickly and adeptly in order to render his interpretation of a visual moment. There are few, if any, wasted brush strokes and details are implied within the image as a whole. That's a lot of information from very few words.
Both of these artists have utilized minimum words in creating their opening statements, but what they have written speaks volumes of themselves as artists, their personalities and what their passions are for producing art. And people (hint, hint, buyers!) are generally more interested in knowing what it is that makes the artist more than knowing where they went to school, how many exhibits they've had, what galleries represent them, etc. That is not to say these credentials are not important, it's just that buyers want to KNOW the artist.
Remember, this is the FIRST thing that someone is going to read in your bio. It is going to be their FIRST impression of you. Lure them in. Because once you have a power statement, you can then continue with adding a little more information in your bio. And by information, I'm referring to highlights in your career.
The rest of your bio should be short and quick & easy to read. Put yourself in the readers' shoes and ask yourself what it is that's interesting about yourself and would pique the curiosity of a prospective buyer/collector. Pick out the best of your exhibitions and awards. Select the top collectors of your work. List your degrees and/or anyone well known that you may have studied with.
Separately, keep a detailed bio with a complete listing of all your credentials as a document that can be included with inquiries and sales. You will also need this for art consultants and gallery directors who will utilize the information in crafting their "sales pitches" and press releases. It will also be helpful in preparing your own press releases, grant applications, and project proposals.
Some things you might want to avoid are expressions such as "attempting to" (it sounds like you're trying hard at something and not being successful) or "self taught artist (makes it sound like you've dabbled.) Don't get me wrong on that "self taught artist" phrase, there are extremely successful artists out there that are self taught, but it should not be one of the highlights in your opening statement. Try not to get too technical in your descriptions as it takes away some of the mystery involved in the creative process. Buyers love the intrigue of the artist and the creative process under which they go, and it allows you to have an opening for dialogue with prospects.
One last thing, your statement will, and should, change over time, very much the same way that you and your work progress. And as this evolution takes place, update your statement to more closely identify to the growth of yourself as an artist and your work. Just as you would not allow yourself to get stale as a creative, don't let your statement become dated. After all, it is the viewers first introduction to you as an artist.