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Dear Photographer: How Important is My Artist Statement?

How important is my artist statement and bio and what do I really need to include? I’m not a writer and did not go to art school and I’ve been struggling with this for months. I’ve been thinking of hiring someone to write it for me. Is this done regularly and are there people out there that specialize in artist statements for photographers? —Anonymous

‘Dear Photographer’ is a new section where readers can ask advice and/or questions of the Feature Shoot audience to be answered via comments on the post. Please send questions for consideration to [email protected] with Dear Photographer in the subject line.

  • http://Www.georgianolan.co.uk Georgia Nolan

    Hi I struggled with mine forever too. I think it depends on your target audience and how you want to come across. I wanted to try and do something fun and didn’t want to bore the pants off people telling them my photographic life story, to me they can see my work and decide if they like It or not with their eyes not by anything I write in my bio. My target is families so something short and sweet that hopefully lets them know a bit of my personality. If you are really stuck how about trying a mini photo essay on there which describes you best, that’s what I plan to do when I get the time. Hope this helps, Georgia x

  • Scott

    My thoughts on the “Artist Statement” are that it should look like this…

    “Artist’s Statement: see my work.”

  • Erik

    Your bio, if you mean your CV, is tremendously important. It’s pretty much who you are as an artist. You WILL be judged by your CV.

    As for the artist statement. That rarely shows up. Don’t sweat it. A nice essay to accompany your series (if you work in series) is a bonus.

  • http://the-nyc-mind.tumblr.com/ Edward Torres

    A BIO Is VERY Important. An Artist Who Does Not Have One Is Like One Who Doesn’t Know Himself. You Should Be Passionate About Yourself. You Should Want To Speak About The Artist You Are. No One Reads Minds. Its Amazing How Many Don’t Have One. Strange. It Means Your Not prepared To Go Forward. I Don’t Post Work Without One.

  • Jenny

    the question is, are you a photographer or an artist? because artists can’t not have a statement. sometimes it’s more important than the works them selves. if you don’t want to deal with it let someone else write it. but if you consider yourself an artist you have to start thinking what it is that you are doing and why is different or better then other things out there.

  • http://www.johnboalphotography.com John

    Ha. I just read a blog about this very topic. A good read. Not to refer to another blog, but Joerg Colberg’s post on this is very insightful:
    http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/extended/archives/on_statements/

  • Jim

    An artist statement can make-or-break a show/book/presentation. This is an attempt to summarize why it is you feel this work is important to share. It doesn’t need to explain every image, or get into any technical details, but it does need to try and explain why you as an Artist are showing these specific images. If you can’t come up with an explaination for a series you are showing, perhaps it isn’t a cohesive set of images, which may not make a good show or book. If you’re just showing “here are some great images I’ve taken”, than an artist statement really isn’t important.

    A bio is a good exercise to do, to consider why it is you take photographs. What started your interest in photography? What have been the major milestones in your photographic experince (i.e. awards, studies, jobs, etc.)? What is it that draws you today to photography?

    These two elements are not important if you simply take photographs for fun. If you are trying to pursure photography as an art (to show your work in galleries specifically, which isn’t the only way to present work as art, but a big one) than these two things are important stepping stones to analyse your work and yourself. Even still, they are good exercises in self-analysis, which I think are worth the effort.

    If you want to try and do them, give yourself a weekend to start a draft, and review them a few times, and get your friends to read it. It’s an iterative process, which you won’t get right the first time.

  • http://www.jlorenzo.com.au Jon Miller

    A artist statement should tell the audience a little bit about yourself. Your thoughts on your work as to why you do it. As to how and when is optional, maybe even what prompt you to do the work. in general people may want to find a connection between them self and the artist, but mainly they would like an insight into the mind of the artist.
    The Bio is the CV of the photographer/artist include dates or years when you accomplished certain things, shows, publications, positions held etc…

    Don’t worry if it’s not right at first it took me years to develop mine and it is always changing because I change.