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Art is big business for some and small business for others. No matter which category you fall into, the art industry can sometimes escape you. True artists will say that they have no interest in the ‘business side’ of art while hoping for a good manager, gallery or agent to represent them. But if you’re anything like me, self-representation may be the only way to go for you. In any case, you’ll have to be on top of the game to make it work and your artist statement is a good place to start.


I recently gave a short talk about creating professional biographies and artists’ statements. I went so far as to say that one of the most important pieces of selling material an artist has is not their art – but their artist statement. Let me tell you why.


The artist statement is a written expression of the artist’s belief system. It represents the ‘brand’ the artist is selling. As with any business, a brand has to be focused and everything you do or say has to support that effort. People are drawn to brands when its values align with their own. The same goes with art and the artist’s brand. Art collectors purchase art to remind themselves of the world around them. A successful artist creates a clear message that helps the buyer/collector/fan feel more connected to the art and artist collectively.


Artists often make the mistake of thinking that the ‘sell’ is about them. It’s usually not. An art collector buys art because it validates something about them, not the artist. (Let’s leave out master works by da Vinci, Picasso and others for arguments sake.) The art becomes an extension of the person buying it – not about the artist necessarily. Art, 99% of the time, is about the person who buys it. Therefore, the artists’ statement is an opportunity for the artist to illuminate the buyer about his or her work and why it matters and has value.


An artist statement is your chance to express to aficionados, your personal thoughts, feelings and experiences that went into your work. It’s much different than an artist biography, because these are your own words, in the first person, speaking directly about your work. When writing your statement, use the present tense (“I am”, not “I was”). Keep your sentences direct, authentic and don’t be afraid to say nice things about yourself. Begin with a simple statement of why you do what you do and how you select materials, subject matter, techniques, etc. Keep it simple and true. You can go on to tell the reader about your current work, challenges you’ve overcome and what you’re exploring and attempting by doing the work you do.


In the end, you ultimately want to have something extra to offer that special someone who purchases your work – a window into the world of the artist. In today’s society, we seek connections, social interactions and personal experiences that bring us closer to the people that create the things we love. Be a part of that experience and share with your collectors a small piece of who you are: in your own words. The experience will be momentous when combined with the beautiful art you create.


Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.

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