Bios, Artist Statements and Pitches

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Courtesy of Columbia College of Chicago

ARTIST STATEMENT: WHAT IT IS & WHY YOU’D WRITE ONE 

Your artist statement differs from your bio statement and a
mission statement because it isn’t about you, it is about your work. And, as
much as we’d like for our art to speak for itself, it doesn’t.

It can be about your body of work as a whole. However, more
than likely it will be about a selection of your work when you're exhibiting
work at a gallery, placing it on your website, or submitting a grant proposal
to fund a potential project.

To get started writing an artist statement, you must first
understand what you’re writing about. Is it about a specific piece or your work
as an artist?

From here, ask yourself these questions:

  • +  What do I want people to know about this body of work?
  • +  What is my inspiration?
  • +  What was my process and what did I use to create the work?
  • +  What information do I absolutely need to provide my audience
    so they can understand my work?


Use those questions and sketch out a draft. You can talk
about yourself, but only as it relates to the outcome of your work (that
inspiration part). 

  • +  Revise that draft using the following pointers:
  • +  Don’t be vague to sound intelligent. Drop the art speak.
  • +  For example, don’t do this: “I see the world as a surreal
    collection of texture and movement. The perpetual shifts in culture change the
    human condition and predicament that can be seen here”.

  • +  Instead, make sure to:
  • +  Explain what you did and what you used.
  • +  Explain the topic and what you’re trying communicate in the
    work.

  • +  Explain what makes your work unique.
  • +  Be specific and direct.
  • +  Again, keep it short!

 

You’re the artist, write in 1st person.


ARTIST BIO: WHAT IT IS & WHY YOU’D WRITE ONE

A bio statement is your story. It is more than your resume
in sentence form.  However, it is also not a chronological overview of your
life. For example, “I was born in ____ and at a very young age I took an
interest in _______ “.  Your bio, needs to be about who you are right now. Ever
changing and evolving, your bio should talk about your immediate goals and
projects and not about the long term. It is presumptuous and sounds arrogant to
say:“I want to be a grammy award winning songwriter and producer”

However, if your immediate goal was to write and produces
songs in the hopes of one day reaching that level of success then a little
humility goes a long way by telling us about what you’re doing and how you’re
doing it (think about your mission):

“I am currently working on numerous production projects and
my work can be seen here _______ . I have ______ (background/history). It is
with this experience that I approach songwriting and production as _______ (how
you do it).”

So, your bio is your story. It is about you. It is what
you’re doing, what you’ve done, and how you do it.

It doesn’t involve telling us about your cat or your
favorite color. However, it can...if it works. Here are some things to consider
when drafting your bio statement:

  • +  Be concise and succinct (Keep it focused. Keep it short.)
  • +  Be sincere
  • +  Use your own words
  • +  Write in 1st person or risk sounding like you still reside
    on Sesame Street

  • +  Write well (watch that spelling and grammar)
  • +  Be funny. If you’re not, don’t try to be.

 

WHERE TO USE IT

Your bio statement is appropriate for your website,
portfolio, Talent Pool profile, public facebook artist page, or any number of
web “profile” platforms.

One word of caution, think about saying the same thing
differently in different places where you’re exhibiting your bio. For example,
your website bio statement might be a slightly longer and more in-depth than
the version that goes on the “About” section of your public Facebook page. 


MISSION STATEMENT: WHAT IT IS AND WHY YOU'D WRITE ONE

A mission statement isn’t usually the first statement that
we’re telling you to write. We should be. You probably won’t use it publicly,
but it is the one that will inform all the others. A mission statement provides the “why” and “how” of what you
do.

For example, take a stab at answering the following:

  • +  Why do you make art?
  • +  Why are you pursuing a career in the arts?
  • +  What is your goal as an artist?
  • +  Who are you creating are for?


If you answered “because I have to” or “to make the world
better” than you’re not quite there.

It isn’t easy, but your mission statement should succinctly
tell us why you’re doing what you do, how you’re doing it, and who you’re doing
it for. It is ok to make art for yourself and your art doesn’t have to change
the world, but you should be able to answer why you’re recording a record,
exhibiting your art in a gallery, or performing on stage.


Fill in the blanks of one of the following templates to
draft your personal mission statement:

Template Sample 1 : My mission is to use my [interest/abilities/positive
personality traits] to achieve [your goals], based on my
[principles/values/education].

Template Sample 2 : To be known and respected for my
[expertise/abilities/qualities you wish to develop], which exhibits
[principles/values/training/problem solving] and results in [your goal]. 

Template Sample 3 - To [what you want to be, or what you want to do] so I can
[describe what achieving the aspiration you wrote in the first blank will let
you experience, contribute or provide here]. To make this happen I will [list
the most important actions you will take]. I believe my [list training,
experience, values that set you apart and end with positivity and/or future
aspirations].

Template 4 - As a [what you are], I [what you want to do, hope to do,
what you are doing]. I [explain what makes you special about what you do]. I
[say what you believe, include your values, training] and [end with how you
will contribute positively to your artistic medium/industry/field/career/society].

 

WHERE TO USE IT

Use it to guide and direct what you do. If you get to a
point where your mission statement doesn’t reflect what you’re doing or what
you want to do then it is time to draft a new one.

With a clear and focused mission statement, you’ll have a
much easier time dressing it up a little as an artist bio, artist statement, or
pitch.


ELEVATOR PITCHES: 

WHAT IT IS & WHY YOU’D WRITE ONE


It has long been described as the hypothetical situation where you’re in an elevator with only the time it takes to travel a few floors to introduce yourself, your value, and a proposition to someone that you want to work with.
 This doesn’t happen.
 

However, what does happen is this...

+ You’re at a party, concert, or exhibition and you’re asked the question, “What do you do?”

+ You’re in an interview and you’re asked the question, “Tell me a little bit about yourself?”

+ You’re at a family function and a relative asks, “So what you’re going to do when you graduate?”

It is these circumstances that require the elevator pitch.
 At minimum it describes:

  • + Who you are
  • + What you do
  • + What makes you and what you do unique
  • + What you’re looking to do or asking for

Here are some key things to keep in mind:

  • + Make it flexible, but know those key elements listed above intimately. 
  • + Use the pitch as a conversation starter, not a monologue.
  • + Use your pitch to ask a question to the person you’re pitching.
  • + Be yourself.  In all cases and context.
  • + Be concise. Again, make it short!
  • + Be interesting.

Practice doing this. Parties, concerts, exhibitions, family functions, etc. All are great practice arenas of the “pitch”.


read on the Portfolio Center Website.

 

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