So you’ve completed your magnum opus, you’ve got the title of the work down and it feels just right. You’re at the stage you know your work is never complete but you’re satisfied with what you have anyway. Well congratulations, now all you need are some choice words so that audiences are able to understand what you’re trying to achieve and convey.
The Artist Statement, an important part of the art making process and usually acts as more than just an accompaniment to the artwork. It’s part of the viewing experience itself. Where should I put my artist statement? Do I even need one? Do I hope for my viewers to experience the artwork first or after my write up? So many variables, but most would agree – an artist statement, like your artwork, reflects you. It reflects substance (at least it should) and what you wish to impress.
Now, artworks can come from humble ideas and humble origins, the mistake many young artists make (and don’t worry I made them once too), was to be overly superfluous in my writing. Using way too many buzzwords that pile up over the meaning of your sentence. It often leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and does not help the case for fellow artists who are trying to break out of that pretentious mold. It implies something great, though lest we forget that something great can be implied without great words and I personally feel that balance in word choice is more important than writing something bigger than it actually is.
Just say what you mean, in the basest sense. No one ever said it was easy; to convey all the mental, cultural and emotional meanings your work has to a willing audience in the span of 5 minutes. It’s a gargantuan task in itself. That does not justify the vague nothingness that artist statements tend to dwell on. By attempting to use words that are more open in their interpretation, you end up with a statement that is equally open and vague.
Good news though, if I still haven’t convinced you to just write from the heart – if you’re one of those people who really enjoy a good pretentious bit of writing to go along with your work, here is a 6 step guide on how to achieve that for yourself.
Step 1: Use artsy jargon buzzwords, whenever possible
Basic rule of thumb, in a line of about 10 words, make sure at least 8 of them are artistic jargon. In an example:
“The objective void becomes an arbiter for subliminal, subliminality and the subtlety sublime re-representation”
Step 2: Use Latin/French words to for seemingly no reason
ESPECIALLY if your topic is on death, birth or any other universally known concept that has the same meaning or same translatable feeling in English. In an example:
“Tempus fugit and memento mori, vita brevis to carpe diem”
Step 3: Make up your own words
Take some lessons from Beyonce and “bootylicious”. Combine obscure terms together and you have yourself a recipe for an even more flowery word with an indistinguishable meaning. In an example:
Craving + retrograde = Cravretgrad
Step 4: Call yourself a “creator” in third person, in ANY context
The same goes for calling yourself “genius”, an “arbiter” or anything else similar. It hypes up your presence for failure, and thus giving it the same “bigger than it actually is” vibe and self-induced hubris. In an example:
“Jason is the creator of the colour blue as representational for the immense collective sadness of humankind”
Sure thing Jason.
Step 5: Make it as uninformative as possible
That means, remove all physical descriptors and any attempt to actually help your viewer understand what the hell they are looking at. You’ve got a painting of a flower pot? Talk about quantum physics and the saddest impossibility for world peace instead! Do not talk about your influences, do not talk about your inspirations. Remember, write more but don’t write about anything directly linking it to the work. In an example:
“My work embodies the pressure for an undying resolution for world peace, cocooned by the enveloping notion of general relativity”
Step 6: Overwrite it
Think you’re done at 200 words? Keep going because it’s never enough. You need to let your audience know how much you need to say and not let your artwork do any of the talking for you.
If all of these tips weren’t enough, you can also visit this site for a handy pretentious artsy generator that is sure to make anyone’s day.