To write a text that expresses your identity as an artist can be a pain. That’s why I provide writing classes for art students to help them with their artist statement. This provides a cover text that can be used for portfolio, graduation, festivals, galleries, exhibitions, pitches and competitions. A well-written artist statement distinguishes and forms an important part of the professional identity.
What inspires you?
As a first step, students write down in 10 minutes, unfiltered, or draw everything that comes to mind when they think about themselves concerning their artistic or professional context.
Then I ask the question “What inspires you?”. A conversation about their purpose (WHY) opens a certain space that remains closed if you limit yourself to describe what you make. What inspires you? is a key to this space and provides the depth that makes you think about your own position and that of others. What inspires you? is an invitation to talk and reveals the inspiration and drive of the maker. Many students share a passion for social and sustainability issues without knowing it from the other. When these insights are shared with the group, new information is added to existing narratives.
Next, I let them sort the harvest according to WHY, HOW, WHAT following the logic of the Golden Circle of Sinek (2009). WHY is about the purpose. The HOW is more about the artistic process and the WHAT is about the artefacts and materials.
The final artist statement or professional statement is a guiding text that students can use when entering the professional world.
PS: What inspires you? works also great as a conversation starter at parties and business gatherings if you want to avoid small-talk.