Quick Tip: How to Write Better Artist Statements (And Dread It Less)

Posted by on Monday June 18, 2018 | Fine Art

An image from Ron Jude’s book Lago. Jude urges students to think of artist statements as a way of clarifying their ideas about a project and moving forward with the work. ©Ron Jude

Artist statements induce more headaches, loathing and procrastination than just about anything else on a photographer’s to-do list. But it is possible to tame a lot of that misery with a change of perspective, and a straightforward approach to the task.

In our story “Conquering the Dreaded Artist Statement: Expert Advice for Writing about Art Photography,” photographer Ron Jude, who teaches at University of Oregon, explains that writing is “an important part of the art-making process.” He urges his students to think of the statement not as homework, but as “something that has a useful purpose in the world.” Statements help artists “have a hand” in how people talk and think about their work. Also, Jude adds, “When I’m in the middle of a project, I tend to try to sit down and write something about it, because it actually helps me clarify my own ideas about what it is and that helps me move forward with the project.” Jude says writing about his work also prepares him speak about it in interviews. “The last thing you want to do is sound like an idiot” in an interview that will live on the internet for the foreseeable future, Jude says.

“The emphasis should be on the basics of communicating something about the work,” Jude adds. “I know people who have written things that are more poetic and more like a piece that maybe echoes the spirit of the work. I think that’s ultimately a nice way of avoiding really saying something about your work.” Jude believes artists are afraid that by writing too literally, they risk “pinning down the meaning of the work.” It’s a fear he understands. “You don’t want the artist statement to say, ‘This is what the work is and this is how you should see it.’ An artist statement shouldn’t contain directives for the reader. It should just provide some context and a basic framework for looking at the work.”

See the full story with other advice writing artist statements, with some sample statements, from Jude, Endia Beal, Clare Benson and John Pilson.

Reimagining the Predictable Formulas of Artist Statements

Great Artist Statements: Jeff Wall and Encouraging Conversation

How to Put Together a Standout Submission for Open Calls, Awards and Juried Reviews

W.M. Hunt on Making “Art” and Artist Statements



Quick Tip: Jeff Jacobson on the Structure Behind Good Photographs

Posted by on Monday August 20, 2018 | Fine Art

Photographer Jeff Jacobson has built a distinguished career—and published three books— by following his instincts, and by pursuing personal projects without preconceived ideas about where the projects might lead. But good photographs don’t just happen, of course. Jacobson explains his method for making photographs, and how he teaches it to workshop students, in a PDN... More

Survey of Artists Reveals that an MFA and Gallery Representation Won’t Make You Financially Secure

Posted by on Tuesday July 10, 2018 | Fine Art

The majority of artists aren’t earning a living from sales of their artwork, a new survey suggests. Instead, they rely primarily on freelance and contract work, or other jobs, to make an average of $20,000–$30,000 annually. The survey, “A study on the financial state of visual artists today,” was conducted by The Creative Independent, a... More

Nobuyoshi Araki Accused of Abuse and Exploitation by Long-Time Model KaoRi

Posted by on Wednesday May 9, 2018 | Fine Art

Inspired by the #MeToo movement, Nobuyoshi Araki’s long-time model KaoRi has publicly accused the renowned Japanese photographer of misleading her into working without a contract, distributing pictures of her around the world without her knowledge or consent, and failing to compensate her fairly for her time or for her her role in Araki’s work. KaoRi... More