Luminous Landscape Forum

Equipment & Techniques => Pro Business Discussion => Topic started by: Colorado David on April 07, 2012, 06:11:35 PM

Title: Artist Statement
Post by: Colorado David on April 07, 2012, 06:11:35 PM
I've been reading Alain Briot's Marketing Fine Art Photography.  I understand the importance of having an Artist Statement for fine art photography, but is it advisable or useful to have one for other types of photography?  I've been working on a draft of a fine art artist statement and intend to differentiate between fine art and photojournalism or documentary photography which I also do.  Am I creating a mine field for myself by suggesting I can turn on and off certain parameters in my work?
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: kikashi on April 08, 2012, 03:51:43 AM
I've been reading Alain Briot's Marketing Fine Art Photography.  I understand the importance of having an Artist Statement for fine art photography, but is it advisable or useful to have one for other types of photography?  I've been working on a draft of a fine art artist statement and intend to differentiate between fine art and photojournalism or documentary photography which I also do.  Am I creating a mine field for myself by suggesting I can turn on and off certain parameters in my work?
An "artist's statement" should appear on your site because you have something genuine to say about yourself and your work, not because you think that because everyone else has one, you'd better have one too. If you feel the need to explain what drives you and have the ability to express yourself clearly and concisely, then of course you should write it. Are you stirring up trouble for yourself? Quite possibly; but if you think that it must be said, you have to say it.

I would suggest, however, that once it's written, you leave it alone for a week or two in a metaphorical desk drawer while you do something else. Then re-read it with a sceptical eye and, if possible, get someone (preferably not someone who loves you) to comment on it. I've seen some photographers clearly capable of excellent work write appalling, meaningless twaddle, making me feel that they must be the last people on earth whom I'd ever want to meet.

Just my view, of course.

Jeremy
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: john beardsworth on April 09, 2012, 03:23:35 AM
Agree with Jeremy. If you must have one, use http://www.artybollocks.com/ ....
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Eric Myrvaagnes on April 09, 2012, 08:59:33 AM
Agree with Jeremy. If you must have one, use http://www.artybollocks.com/ ....
Drat! Now I suppose artybollocks.com will be wanting a credit on my website.   :(
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Walt Roycraft on April 09, 2012, 09:18:52 AM
I found this Ebook to be of great help, and was able to "crank" out an artist statement in a mere 3 months :>)

Seriously, it was helpful for me to know what an AS was not.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Walt Roycraft on April 09, 2012, 09:19:32 AM
oops, here's the link :-[

http://www.writingtheartiststatement.com/#chart
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Josh-H on April 12, 2012, 01:00:39 AM
To be serious for a moment - I do think an artist statement is necessary (I agree with Alain) - 'if' you are selling fine art. It you are a commercial photographer or shoot family portraits for a living then its far less important (I think). The viewer of your photographs is being asked (assuming you are selling fine art) to accept your work is art. You should therefore, as the artist have a strong statement about your work. It should NOT be flowery or 'wordy'  - it should succinctly state what you set out to achieve.

I sweated bullets over the last few months over my own artist statement. It has gone through many, many revisions to get to the end result - but I finally feel it it succinctly summarises my photography. Where they wasted sleepless nights? Possibly... some may consider this the case - But I don't think so. I think its important to have a firm statement on your work if you are selling it. For those who are interested: www.jholko.com (http://www.jholko.com) and the artist statement is in the prints tab.

It was interesting for me at my recent exhibition in Melbourne where I had people approaching me and actually commenting to me about the work. It was confirmation for me that my artist statement was right on the money. At least - I 'feel' it is.  ;D
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Carl Glover on April 12, 2012, 04:39:27 AM
Wouldn't the pictures themselves be the statement?

I worry that the statement might unwittingly confine in some way in the future. I do like manifestos but do not necessarily believe them.

Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: kencameron on April 12, 2012, 07:07:17 AM
I sweated bullets over the last few months over my own artist statement. It has gone through many, many revisions to get to the end result - but I finally feel it it succinctly summarises my photography.

To be honest, and I hope not discourteous or unkind, I have to say that I like your photographs but would not be encouraged to look at them if the first thing I encountered were your artist statement. The photographs are beautiful. The artist's statement is full of cliches (things that may be true, but that have been said so often before that they sound stale).
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Josh-H on April 12, 2012, 07:11:41 AM
I guess its true.. can't please all of the people all of the time  ;D
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: kencameron on April 12, 2012, 07:33:58 AM
I guess its true.. can't please all of the people all of the time  ;D

Indeed. It's me, not you, I am sure. I often feel like this. The Australian National Portrait Gallery in Canberra has an annual exhibition of photographic portraits, accompanied by artist statements. I like most of the portraits and cringe at most of the artist statements. I square it off for myself with the thought that  being good at photography is a relatively rare skill, and being good at writing is another, and being good at both seems to be as rare as... (see here (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100112211710AAfNovh)). Did I say I really like your photographs?
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: mediumcool on April 12, 2012, 08:59:52 AM
Wouldn't the pictures themselves be the statement?

I worry that the statement might unwittingly confine in some way in the future. I do like manifestos but do not necessarily believe them.

+1
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 13, 2012, 02:41:32 PM
An "artist's statement" should appear on your site because ...

I think there are a couple of reasons and it probably helps to understand which you are trying to do :-)

-- to help the audience locate themselves with respect to the work (http://books.google.com/books?id=b7NaAAAAYAAJ) and locate the work within contemporary photographic practice INFORM

-- to tell the audience you understand what they want, what they need, who they are (http://books.google.com/books?id=5uU5-XoXrYIC&lpg=PP1&dq=selling%20the%20invisible&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false) SELL
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 13, 2012, 02:56:08 PM
Wouldn't the pictures themselves be the statement?

:-)

"Sometimes if you possess a distrust of theoretical analysis you may be tempted to say, 'the pictures need no explanation.' Certainly on very rare occasions this can be the case. However, be aware that this claim is also a theoretical position, rooted in the modernistic argument that the evidence of the photograph is self-explanatory and needs no contextualizing information." p92


I worry that the statement might unwittingly confine in some way in the future.

"... an Artist Statement is a self-evaluation of your work as it stands in the here and now. If anything, it is looking back at the process and the work and evaluating your progress, effort and results. More than anything it implies that you understand what you have done." p91

PHOTO-EDITING and PRESENTATION (http://books.google.com/books?id=b7NaAAAAYAAJ)
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 13, 2012, 04:49:48 PM
It was interesting for me at my recent exhibition in Melbourne where I had people approaching me and actually commenting to me about the work. It was confirmation for me that my artist statement was right on the money. At least - I 'feel' it is.
To suffer from confirmation bias is human :-)

My guess is the intention of that artist statement is more marketing than self-evaluation - the difficulty I have is making sense of the wording, perhaps it's me, perhaps a few examples might help.

Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Josh-H on April 14, 2012, 04:18:51 AM
Quote
the difficulty I have is making sense of the wording, perhaps it's me,

Not to be overtly blunt - but if you don't get it - then frankly; yes its you. Since my artist statement is my own words that are used to describe my own photography you either get it - or you don't. If you don't, then in your own case and by your own examples I would  say your understanding of the english language is not up to the task. Sorry, but maybe you should look up some of the words I chose to use in the dictionary.

I've thrown my own personal artist statement out there as an example. Probably against the harshest audience there  is - armchair photographer critics. I did this purely as an example of how I chose to go about it.You are of course free to dislike and comment. But don't do so from an ivory tower - that just pisses me off.

How about putting your own on the line? got the cajones? (somehow I doubt it...).
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: john beardsworth on April 14, 2012, 05:18:08 AM
Isn't his point that your statement isn't as well-written as it might be? The grammar of that "pristine in nature:" sentence is shaky, mainly because your choice of a colon rather than a comma results in your confusing inward sensations, and also grandeur, with aspects of pristine nature.

If you're going to write such stuff, you've got to be prepared for people trying to make sense of it. Thankfully yours isn't too pretentious, and the grammar is easily straightened out, but "my artist statement is my own words that are used to describe my own photography" makes one conclude that your photography is confused - which, looking at the pictures, it certainly isn't.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: mediumcool on April 14, 2012, 05:35:22 AM
Bafflegab. And on a Flash site to boot.  ;D

Bafflegab (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bafflegab) [baf-uhl-gab] is a slang term referring to confusing or generally unintelligible jargon. (See Gobbledygook).

The word was defined by its inventor, Milton A Smith, as ďmultiloquence characterized by consummate interfusion of circumlocution or periphrasis, inscrutability, and other familiar manifestations of abstruse expatiation commonly utilized for promulgations implementing Procrustean determinations by governmental bodies.Ē Thus defining ďbafflegabĒ using bafflegab.

Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Colorado David on April 14, 2012, 11:45:52 AM
I was thinking of posting the draft of my Artist Statement to get some feel from everyone here.  It is still a draft after all and not posted anywhere yet.  But, now I'm a little afraid.  I did let a photographer colleague read it and got a favorable review (someone who is neither my wife or another loved one), but this is a pretty tough crowd.  I am getting a lot out of the discussion.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: kikashi on April 14, 2012, 12:28:20 PM
I was thinking of posting the draft of my Artist Statement to get some feel from everyone here.  It is still a draft after all and not posted anywhere yet.  But, now I'm a little afraid.  I did let a photographer colleague read it and got a favorable review (someone who is neither my wife or another loved one), but this is a pretty tough crowd.  I am getting a lot out of the discussion.
You won't benefit from a review by a crowd that's other than tough! As long as you determine that you won't let the apparent vehemence of the responses upset you, post it. You can always ignore the comments, after all.

Jeremy
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Colorado David on April 14, 2012, 12:41:54 PM
Well okay then.  Here's the draft.


Artist Statement

I am a photographer working in a variety of photographic genres, both still and motion picture.  If you are reading this artist statement, you are probably viewing my catalogue or display of Fine Art Photography.  What does Fine Art Photography mean?  Fine Art Photography is the creation of an image that is technically excellent and an expression of the artistís vision.  In documentary photography or photojournalism, the accurate rendering of an image as it appeared at the time of the photo is most important.  The Fine Art Photographer is freed from that constraint and can create art by any means.  Any technical tool available during the shooting of the photograph or the post processing can be fairly used to create an image that is an expression of the artistís vision.  In any photographic discipline, the photographer creates order from chaos.  In documentary photography or photojournalism, the photographer accomplishes this by what he includes in the frame or by what he excludes.  That can be achieved either by how the photocomposition is framed or cropped or by the use of selective focus.

The Fine Art Photographer uses these same techniques, but is not limited to them.  All of the various post processing techniques, which may include cloning or manipulation of colors or exposure, such as High Dynamic Range manipulation are used to create the image the artist wants to create.  While the photographic image may not actually exist in nature exactly as printed on the paper or canvas, it is the rendering of the artistic vision rather than the reality of the time and place of the photograph.  This might be as simple as removing a fence or road or as complex as changing the texture or color of foliage.  The word Photograph literally means to paint with light.  So in much the same way the painter uses paints and brushes to create an image that is an expression of his vision, the photographer uses light, and the technology to manipulate it, to create an image that is an expression of his vision.  The constraint I do place on my work is that the image must be one that could occur naturally.

I was raised with a deep respect and appreciation for both art and music.  My parents instilled, supported, and nurtured both disciplines in me.  During my formative years our family were frequent visitors to the Birger Sandzen Gallery in Lindsborg, Kansas.  Sandzen, a Swedish immigrant, settled in Lindsborg, worked, taught and became an integral part of the Lindsborg/Bethany College community.  If you visit the gallery, you will find huge canvases of bold impressionistic renderings of the massive landscape of the American West.  These paintings, when viewed from a distance, capture not only the natural beauty of the land, but also the essence of the American West experience.  Sandzen first visited the Rocky Mountains in 1908.  It was this visit that captured his imagination and sparked his enthusiasm for the grand landscape.

I have loved the Rocky Mountains since my first visit too, although I was four years old at the time.  I was captivated by the same enthusiasm that Sandzen felt.  Since age four I have broadened my appreciation to encompass what can best be called the American West, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, the Desert Southwest, the Oregon High Desert, the iconic vastness.

Much of this landscape has changed dramatically since Sandzen first laid eyes on it in 1908.  Some of the land has been protected from development and remains much the same, but much has also been developed and most will have many, many times the number of visitors who might have been there sometime in 1908.  It is my goal as an artist working in photography to create images with modern photographic equipment that might have been taken early in the 20th Century.  In addition, I seek to use much the same bold pallet of colors that Sandzen used to render his artistic vision of the land.  Although I seek my own vision as an artist, it is certainly true that Sandzen has been a major influence.  While he used the brush strokes and color of the impressionist, I seek to render the landscape in as great a detail as modern photographic equipment will allow.

At one point in my career I followed the work of Peter Beard.  During the period of time Peter was living and working at his camp in Kenya, he would print his photographs showing the sprocket holes.  He did this to prove that he had framed the shot the way he wanted it in the camera and didnít depend on cropping during the printing process to accomplish his vision.  While this might be a noble effort in documentary photography or photojournalism, it doesnít fit my vision for Fine Art Photography.  My goal is to produce a photograph that is both technically excellent and a visually pleasing rendering of my artistic vision.  Within this definition, cropping and other post processing techniques are open to me.  The photographs you see, either in the catalogue or display, meet these criteria.  In the end a photograph isnít a portrayal of what you, either the photographer or the viewer see, itís an expression of what you feel.  I hope my photographs accomplish this for you and I hope you enjoy them.  Thank you very much for your interest.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: john beardsworth on April 14, 2012, 01:27:40 PM
OK, trying to be constructive (as one who's not a fan of these statements)...

It doesnít strike me as pretentious, so that doesn't put me off. The language is clear and the grammar correct, so youíve avoided coming over as someone whose writing is so poor that it explains why he takes pictures (I saw one where the guy's apostrophes were so random they looked like dust spots).

Don't you think it's far too long? Does the sort of person who reads this need telling what he's probably doing, let alone what Fine Art photography is, or how it differs from documentary photography? Why not other genres too? I'd consider simply dropping the first two paragraphs.

Whatís the point of the Peter Beard section when you conclude it by saying it doesnít fit your vision? I donít think quite the same of the Sandzen content, though perhaps thereís too much about him and his inspiration? Thereís no need to say he was an influence when thatís already clear from the ďit is my goalĒ sentence, and you also repeat the ďmodern photographic equipmentĒ point.

In some ways, it came over more as an About Me, rather than a statement of artistic goals. Do you not think so?

John
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 14, 2012, 02:10:18 PM
Here's the draft.
Much as John Beardy suggested: I only started to pay attention half-way through the next to last paragraph, here - "It is my goal as an artist working in photography..." - that seems like the beginning to me; and at that point I would need some kind of explanation as to how you had encountered that particular tradition of landscape painting, and where I will see the influence in your work (that'll make me feel clever when I notice). Not that I want to know that much about Birger Sandzen, this is supposed to tell me about your work not his.

Much as John Beardy suggested, telling me about Peter Beard seems only to be telling me about what your work is not about - I don't need to know.

"In the end a photograph isnít a portrayal of what you, either the photographer or the viewer see, itís an expression of what you feel." My guess is that notion has a whole tradition in the visual arts and photography, so you could tell me how your work relates to that tradition (has developed that tradition further).
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: john beardsworth on April 14, 2012, 02:31:26 PM
A tiny question re American English. Would it be "pallet" as you wrote, or "palette"?
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Walt Roycraft on April 14, 2012, 03:24:18 PM
I was thinking of posting the draft of my Artist Statement to get some feel from everyone here.  It is still a draft after all and not posted anywhere yet.  But, now I'm a little afraid.  I did let a photographer colleague read it and got a favorable review (someone who is neither my wife or another loved one), but this is a pretty tough crowd.  I am getting a lot out of the discussion.

Here's mine.
http://www.roycraftart.com/artist-statement/
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 14, 2012, 04:32:06 PM
Not to be overtly blunt - but if you don't get it - then frankly; yes its you.

You're shooting the messenger. My advice - Hire someone to write your artist statement for you, and this time let them write rather than forcing your words on them! [revised]


Sorry, but maybe you should look up some of the words I chose to use in the dictionary.

Since coming to the  U.S.A. I habitually do look up the words in several dictionaries because American English usage can sometimes be quite different. Where do you imagine I took the definition of portentous from?


Speaking of the ivory tower, other readers may be interested in this pdf article (worth a look just for the lemon-juice bank-robber anecdote) -

"Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments" (http://jt512.dyndns.org/documents/kruger-dunning.pdf)
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Josh-H on April 14, 2012, 06:20:11 PM
I was thinking of posting the draft of my Artist Statement to get some feel from everyone here.  It is still a draft after all and not posted anywhere yet.  But, now I'm a little afraid.  I did let a photographer colleague read it and got a favorable review (someone who is neither my wife or another loved one), but this is a pretty tough crowd.  I am getting a lot out of the discussion.


Anytime you put your work out into a public space (be it a photograph or an artist statement or whatever) you have to be prepared to take criticism. It requires a thick skin to put work out for feedback since no one likes to cop criticism - and you are bound to cop some. There are those who will attempt to help you and those who will attempt to tear you down simply because they take some sort of pleasure in it. Learning to differentiate between the two is an important skill to take advantage of feedback.

This is a tough crowd on lula. Whilst there are many great members here and an incredible depth of technical knowledge; there are also some really snide cynics and 'couch experts' who regularly tear down people's work; yet never post anything themselves - let alone anything of substance.  You have to have not only a thick skin; but also a strong belief in your work and the ability to recognise useful feedback from ignorant opinion. Do not be swayed or put off because one or two people from the luxury of internet anonymity decide to pick your work to pieces. You have to stay focused on your intent and take people's opinions into consideration for what they are worth.

Kudos respect to you for coming out and putting your own artist statement out there. That takes balls (especially with this crowd). I doubt any of the critics that have responded here will post their own artist statements (or even photographs for that matter). I would suggest that you take their comments with the proverbial grain or two of salt. The old adage that 'it isn't enough to succeed - you have to see those around you fail' (or something similar to that effect) is very true.

I put my own artist statement out purely as an example of how I went about it (BTW: I did hire someone to write mine; but I did work very closely with them on it to be sure it captured and reflected my work). I didn't ask for comment or criticism on it. Although; a strong argument could probably be made that I invited it simply by the posting of it in this thread. Either way; I won't be dissuaded from my intent just because someone here doesn't like it or felt compelled to attempt to tear it down.

Ultimately; this is a great proving ground for photographs and artist statements and indeed just about anything photography related; since the crowd is tough - very tough. As long as you realise that going in; that you have a thick skin and are prepared to take a knock or two then there is plenty to learn here. Just as long as your radar and troll filter are in operational order. ;D
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Schewe on April 14, 2012, 07:13:32 PM
Mine... (http://schewephoto.com/resume.html)
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Colorado David on April 14, 2012, 08:39:21 PM
I'm curious, how many people, after reading my draft, looked up Birger Sandzen?

I know it's too long and needs to be edited. That's why it's a draft. I felt the need to explain some of the technical since a lot of people pick at photo post processing as some kind of sacrilege.  I appreciate the critiques.

As for writing, I used to have the AP Style Book pretty much memorized.  Strunk & White ain't so bad either. ;D
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 14, 2012, 09:53:09 PM
I'm curious, how many people, after reading my draft, looked up Birger Sandzen?
Nope.

...a lot of people pick at photo post processing as some kind of sacrilege.
Perhaps it will be enough to give people something else that they will feel informed enough to talk about in relation to your work.

the AP Style Book pretty much memorized.  Strunk & White ain't so bad either.
Style: Toward Clarity and Grace (http://books.google.com/books?id=wheCdBUIpwIC) -- but what's really helpful is that you actually have an understandable and different story to tell.


Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: kencameron on April 14, 2012, 10:40:32 PM
As long as ... you have a thick skin and ... your radar and troll filter are in operational order. ;D

Of course you need a thick skin to comment as well, given the propensity of some people to react with ad hominem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem) abuse at any adverse comment about their work, however carefully it may be phrased.  You, for example, seem to be suggesting that the people who expressed reservations about your artist statement are trolls who are motivated by a compulsive desire to tear things down and aren't brave enough to post artist statements or photographs of their own. Not me, sir. I was only trying to help.

Btw, the problem with "portentous" is that it has two meanings, one of which ("marvellous, amazing, prodigious") I assume you mean, and the other ( "marked by pompousness; pretentiously weighty") I assume you would rather avoid.  Pointing that kind of thing out is surely best understood as being motivated by a desire to help you rather than tear you down. This kind of ambiguity, between an intended and a very much unintended meaning, often lies in wait for the unwary. On another Lula thread, someone once talked about "the fundaments (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/fundament) of photography". I assume he meant the fourth meaning in the linked definition rather than the first.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 14, 2012, 10:46:39 PM
... those who will attempt to tear you down simply because they take some sort of pleasure in it.

Your current artist statement doesn't hurt me, it hurts you; improving your artist statement won't help me, it'll help you.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Josh-H on April 15, 2012, 01:58:33 AM
Quote
Of course you need a thick skin to comment as well, given the propensity of some people to react with ad hominem abuse at any adverse comment about their work, however carefully it may be phrased.  You, for example, seem to be suggesting that the people who expressed reservations about your artist statement are trolls who are motivated by a compulsive desire to tear things down and aren't brave enough to post artist statements or photographs of their own. Not me, sir. I was only trying to help.

I must have missed the bit where I was asking for your help. Sorry about that, I will try to pay more attention.

So where is your artist statement? (or anything of substance for that matter)

Btw: There are hundreds of words in the English language that have multiple meanings. Because you might be struggling with the context of one word; does not mean its use is incorrect or unclear.

Your current artist statement doesn't hurt me, it hurts you; improving your artist statement won't help me, it'll help you.

Im sorry, but your comments are so far off base as to be pure throw away material. From what I can see of your history you have never posted anything of substance to lula - period. Perhaps when you have shown what you are capable of people might take you seriously.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: kencameron on April 15, 2012, 06:44:20 AM
I must have missed the bit where I was asking for your help. Sorry about that, I will try to pay more attention.

So where is your artist statement? (or anything of substance for that matter)

Btw: There are hundreds of words in the English language that have multiple meanings. Because you might be struggling with the context of one word; does not mean its use is incorrect or unclear.


You posted a link to an artist statement in a thread about the value of artist statements. By doing so, you implicitly invited comment (or were you expecting only applause?). Your statement needed help, in part because it contained a clearly unintended ambiguity which made me cringe, not struggle, to the extent that originally I couldn't even bear to mention it, and also for other reasons that have been pointed out. I liked your photographs and was genuinely concerned at the prospect that people might judge them adversely because, as a piece of writing,  your artist statement is, in my not uninformed opinion (degrees in literature, lifetime practice in writing), of lesser quality than your photographs are as photographs. You may, of course, disagree - but couldn't you have a go at disagreeing without lashing out? I still like your photographs.  I don't have an artist statement because I am not sure I am an artist, and generally don't believe in them (although I like Schewe's, and a few others). I have posted a few photographs on this site and intend to post more. But that is irrelevant. Your artist statement is what it is, regardless of my statements or my photographs. Paying more attention would be a great idea, particularly to the low credibility of sarcasm as a strategy in debate, and to the concept of the "ad hominem argument". All such arguments are, literally,  worthless.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Rob C on April 15, 2012, 04:04:14 PM
I don't think this crowd is as tough as all that: to be perfectly honest, I think that, in general, folks here tend to tell it like they see it. Some find it necessary to do so in riddles where others are drawn to the martial arts, but at the end of the day the problem is often one of the 'artist' simply taking himself/herself too seriously for his/her own good.

I wonder what Vincent's statement would have been: lend me an ear?

Rob C
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 15, 2012, 04:24:27 PM
Sharon, that's kind-of cryptic - do you mean that Rob C's comment is an example of what you mean by someone trying to "post the last word in the most hurtful way"?
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: kencameron on April 15, 2012, 06:06:51 PM
Josh is a much better photographer than most on this site. That doesn't seem to count for much anymore - rather who can post the last word in the most hurtful way.
Sharon Van Lieu
Dude, I think he is a fine photographer, and have said so, in, I think, every single post I have made on this thread. That will be my  last word.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 15, 2012, 06:28:17 PM
Im sorry, but your comments are so far off base as to be pure throw away material.

I wouldn't be surprised to be mistaken, and I certainly wouldn't be embarrassed to be mistaken - to err is human.

However, you have given no reason to suggest that the 4 specific comments I made about your artist statement were mistaken.


From what I can see of your history you have never posted anything of substance to lula - period. Perhaps when you have shown what you are capable of people might take you seriously.
As you pointed out, Josh, most of these critics don't post links to their own work.

If I posted my work to LuLa, the meaning of words shown in dictionaries wouldn't change, it'd be just the same as now.

If I posted my work to LuLa, English usage wouldn't change, it'd be just the same as now.

Again you're attacking the messenger.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Rob C on April 16, 2012, 04:53:47 AM
Some of our friends across the pond use 'dude' or 'bud' in posts when matters get a tad warm - terms of endearment no doubt.

Rob,

Some of your posts tickle me.




Might have been nicer to have tickled Sharon, but there you go - no last words will change that.

;-(

Rob C
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Josh-H on April 16, 2012, 06:08:46 AM
Quote
If I posted my work to LuLa, the meaning of words shown in dictionaries wouldn't change, it'd be just the same as now.

If I posted my work to LuLa, English usage wouldn't change, it'd be just the same as now.

The point is you don't. Therefore your credibility = zero.

I have wasted enough time responding to your erroneous commentary and your continual efforts to degenerate a useful thread into an opinionated waste of space.  Feel free to respond and have the last word (looking at your post history thats clearly your 'thing'). But you have already been moved to 'ignore'.

Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: mediumcool on April 16, 2012, 06:32:51 AM
The point is you don't. Therefore your credibility = zero.

I have wasted enough time responding to your erroneous commentary and your continual efforts to degenerate a useful thread into an opinionated waste of space.  Feel free to respond and have the last word (looking at your post history thats clearly your 'thing'). But you have already been moved to 'ignore'.

Looks, sounds and smells like a hissy fit. And to belittle somebody who has English as a second language is pathetic; a virtue of coming to English later in life is to respect it as a powerful means of expression when used with care, and Isaac appears, on the basis of his posts, to do so.

Isaac also seems a courteous person by dint of his posts; Iíd much rather interact with him.  ;D

(http://img687.imageshack.us/img687/6356/courteous.png)
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 16, 2012, 11:07:01 PM
And to belittle somebody who has English as a second language is pathetic; a virtue of coming to English later in life is to respect it as a powerful means of expression when used with care, and Isaac appears, on the basis of his posts, to do so.

I see that my "Since coming to the  U.S.A." comment caused some confusion - I came from the UK as a native English speaker, and had the two countries separated by a common language experience :-)
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Rob C on April 17, 2012, 03:28:44 AM
I see that my "Since coming to the  U.S.A." comment caused some confusion - I came from the UK as a native English speaker, and had the two countries separated by a common language experience :-)


Felicidades - it's now gone viral and separated continents.

Rob C
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 17, 2012, 10:48:21 AM
The point is you don't. Therefore your credibility = zero.

I have wasted enough time responding to your erroneous commentary and your continual efforts to degenerate a useful thread into an opinionated waste of space.  Feel free to respond and have the last word (looking at your post history thats clearly your 'thing'). But you have already been moved to 'ignore'.

Good luck!
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Colorado David on April 17, 2012, 12:01:36 PM
Back to the original topic.  Does anyone have or know of examples of good, well-written, easily understood artist statements they could post or link?  Thanks to those who have.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 17, 2012, 02:20:50 PM
Back to the original topic.  Does anyone have or know of examples of good, well-written, easily understood artist statements ...
What goal do you want the artist statement to achieve for you? We'll have a better chance of providing examples that are good (fit to purpose) if we know the goal.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Tom Frerichs on April 17, 2012, 02:49:09 PM
Agree with Jeremy. If you must have one, use http://www.artybollocks.com/ ....
I LOVE it. It makes as much sense as engineering requirement docs without the formality.

Tom Frerichs
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Walt Roycraft on April 17, 2012, 05:16:21 PM
Back to the original topic.  Does anyone have or know of examples of good, well-written, easily understood artist statements they could post or link?  Thanks to those who have.

The E Book I referenced and linked to in a previous post has examples of AS. I don't think any photogs but they were well written.

Here is one example http://www.sharonpitts.com/
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 20, 2012, 01:50:15 PM
Does anyone have or know of examples of good, well-written, easily understood artist statements they could post or link?

The book Art Journey America Landscapes: 89 Painters' Perspectives (http://books.google.com/books?id=JUOrN158NJUC) shows one page of text and one painting for each of the painters. (Some pages can be seen with Amazon LookInside.) The text is a short bio followed by 3 or 4 question and answer paragraphs, here are a few of the questions --

Those questions seem to touch on many of the points covered in artist statements, and the Q&A format avoids burdening the reader/prospect with the anxiety of having to think-up questions about the work.


On a side note, only one of the painters gave the let the paintings speak for themselves response, and even they answered the "What inspired this painting?" question.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Colorado David on April 20, 2012, 04:59:19 PM
What goal do you want the artist statement to achieve for you? We'll have a better chance of providing examples that are good (fit to purpose) if we know the goal.

Sorry about being late to respond.  I've been busy.  I want to be able to differentiate my various work.  Since I shoot photojournalism, documentary and fine art, I need to suggest that I can turn off and on the post processing of fine art.  In addition I want to diffuse the remarks that some people make about manipulating photos in post by offering a reason that it is done.  As I asked in the first post, am I navigating a mine field by offering an artist's statement?  Perhaps what I really need is an About Me statement for the fine art and leave it at that. Thanks.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Colorado David on April 20, 2012, 04:59:53 PM
But I don't do weddings. ;D
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: john beardsworth on April 20, 2012, 05:47:43 PM
Sorry about being late to respond.  I've been busy.  I want to be able to differentiate my various work.  Since I shoot photojournalism, documentary and fine art, I need to suggest that I can turn off and on the post processing of fine art.  In addition I want to diffuse the remarks that some people make about manipulating photos in post by offering a reason that it is done.  As I asked in the first post, am I navigating a mine field by offering an artist's statement?  Perhaps what I really need is an About Me statement for the fine art and leave it at that. Thanks.
I don't think anyone knows, but I feel you're doing the right thing by subjecting your statement to an ordeal by fire! Too often people seem to write these things without apparently sensing how ludicrous they are making themselves appear.

Surely an About Me can co-exist with a short artist's statement? I enjoyed looking at Chuck's pictures earlier at http://chuckkimmerle.com/ and he has an artist's statement that says something interesting without getting trapped in any of the bunkers.

John
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Rob C on April 21, 2012, 03:43:55 AM
I don't think anyone knows, but I feel you're doing the right thing by subjecting your statement to an ordeal by fire! Too often people seem to write these things without apparently sensing how ludicrous they are making themselves appear.

Surely an About Me can co-exist with a short artist's statement? I enjoyed looking at Chuck's pictures earlier at http://chuckkimmerle.com/ and he has an artist's statement that says something interesting without getting trapped in any of the bunkers.

John





Yes, but one would excuse Chuck anything: his pictures are so eloquent, so well seen that he could write a politcal manifesto and it would pass as 'statement' without comment.

That's the difference between photographers: some just have it with or without words where others are all words, good or bad.

Rob C
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: MikeDitz on April 23, 2012, 04:38:24 AM
Just today I was at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles. There were artist statements along with the photographs. For the most part I find artist statements to be overwrought about me pages sprinkled with "art-speak" words, and the phoney ones generated by artybollocks are disturbingly close to the real ones. Maybe the artists do have a sense of humor and are just going along withe the tradition and we are all taking them too seriously. Or maybe they don't. :)
All due respect to the folks who posted theirs (I don't have an AS but I do have a mission statement that uses a lot of the corporate -speak buzzwords) but the one that was about 8 paragraphs long is not going to be read by anyone, even close relatives will bail out after 3 or 4 graphs...
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: mediumcool on April 23, 2012, 06:50:10 AM
Artist [or artistís, or artistsí] statements have one ultimate purpose: revenue.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Rob C on April 23, 2012, 08:35:33 AM
Artist [or artistís, or artistsí] statements have one ultimate purpose: revenue.


Are you sure? Are you absolutely convinced it isn't a face-saver, a 'blame the mission, not the man' sort of thing?

Rob C
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 23, 2012, 12:09:15 PM
Artist [or artistís, or artistsí] statements have one ultimate purpose: revenue.

It ain't nece - ain't nece, Ain't nece - ain't nece, Ain't necessarily ... so !

As "a self-evaluation of your work as it stands in the here and now" an artist statement can be a private assessment by someone who photographs for pleasure not profit.

Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Rob C on April 23, 2012, 02:10:11 PM
It ain't nece - ain't nece, Ain't nece - ain't nece, Ain't necessarily ... so !

As "a self-evaluation of your work as it stands in the here and now" an artist statement can be a private assessment by someone who photographs for pleasure not profit.





And there I was, thinking an AS is a statement of intent and not a judgement on what has gone before! Live and learn.

Rob C
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 23, 2012, 02:43:30 PM
And there I was, thinking an AS is a statement of intent and not a judgement on what has gone before!
I imagine that people understand quite different things by the phrase artist statement - and some of them (not thinking of anyone in particular) will be happy to spend their time bickering until they can declare their understanding to be the one true definition. I can't be arsed ;-)

The following seems clear enough to be useful --

"When you present your work it is most likely you will be asked to accompany it with some sort of contextualizing statement. ... Sometimes this statement is referred to as a Statement of Intention. That is extremely problematic terminology as it implies that it is necessary to make the case that what you have done is exactly what you intended to do. Seldom does this occur, and when and if it does it can be more a liability than a success. ... a Statement of Intention is forward looking while an Artist Statement is a self-evaluation of your work as it stands in the here and now."

page 51 STUDYING PHOTOGRAPHY: A Survival Guide (http://books.google.com/books?id=fw9xRAAACAAJ)

Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 23, 2012, 02:57:45 PM
I want to be able to differentiate my various work.
You could treat them as completely separate activities and create separate sets of marketing material, targeting different audiences.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: mediumcool on April 23, 2012, 06:02:35 PM
It ain't nece - ain't nece, Ain't nece - ain't nece, Ain't necessarily ... so !

As "a self-evaluation of your work as it stands in the here and now" an artist statement can be a private assessment by someone who photographs for pleasure not profit.



uh-huh
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: mediumcool on April 23, 2012, 06:07:08 PM
revenue promotion

Pray tell, KLaban, what is the purpose of promotion?

And perhaps you may wish toponder meaning of the adjective ultimate; adjectives modify the meaning of nouns, as you well know.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: mediumcool on April 24, 2012, 04:46:08 AM
uh-huh

Original, not.

Please try harder.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 24, 2012, 01:29:42 PM
Original, not.

Please try harder.
Yes, that may indeed have been what KLaban wished to express about your disdain.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Rob C on April 24, 2012, 02:18:16 PM
Heysoos, what is it with people on the Internet?

Rob C
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Eric Myrvaagnes on April 24, 2012, 04:45:31 PM
Fuckwits, the lot of 'em.

 ;D
Now there's a concise Artist Statement!
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Colorado David on April 24, 2012, 06:54:19 PM
I'm really sorry I started this thread. :'(
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 24, 2012, 08:28:45 PM
I'm really sorry I started this thread.
Take from it whatever you can, and let the dross float past.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Schewe on April 25, 2012, 01:32:41 AM
I'm really sorry I started this thread. :'(

You shouldn't be...

The fact of the matter is that a post to a forum like this is like throwing seeds to the wind. You can't control the direction nor reach of the wind, you can only control your reaction to the following posts.

I do think that developing a relatively thick skin is de rigueur for fine art photography. If you are so sensitive that you run and hide at the least bit of controversy or conflict, I don't think you are going to enjoy doing what you think you want to do. Man up and grow one...(yes, I'm being intentionally crass).

But in the course of this thread you've some gotten useful and some not very useful feedback. What EXACTLY did you expect to happen (if what you expected didn't happen, I would question your expectations more than the rough and ready nature of the forums).

It's all grist for the mill...
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Colorado David on April 25, 2012, 06:47:12 AM
You shouldn't be...



My post was humor after the couple of posts just preceding it.  That's what the little emoticon was supposed to convey.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Justan on April 25, 2012, 10:09:32 AM
I read someplace that the idea for an Artist Statement started in the early 1950s. While I havenít done any research on the varsity of this, if true, the original idea behind the Artist Statement was probably tied to McCarthyism. For those who donít know, McCarthyism was named after the late and evil spirited US Senator Joseph McCarthy, who accused a vast number of people, particularly including artists, of being communists or communist sympathizers. Notable in his attacks was a complete lack of evidence to support the many accusations he made. At the following link is a short blurb on the topic of McCarthyism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism

If true, this suggests that the Artists Statement was born as a way to proclaim that the artist was not, essentially, an enemy of the State.

From then, the AS has grown to become somewhat of a puff piece about the artist, typically serving the interest of marketing related goals.

No matter the real or perceived purpose, the real oddity is that some have come to have high expectations (and high anxiety) about their AS. In the end (imho) it is little other than an industry accepted marketing ploy.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Rob C on April 25, 2012, 11:29:35 AM
Out of a sense of shame, inverted vanity, high anxiety and various mental spectres too numerous to enumerate, I've re-jigged mine:

http://youtu.be/EXSmAcJqsGI


Rob C

Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Justan on April 25, 2012, 12:16:44 PM
As long as weíre on the topic of, ahem, borrowed artist statements..... (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=purPKiG5__A&feature=related)

Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 25, 2012, 12:36:24 PM
My post was humor after the couple of posts just preceding it.  That's what the little emoticon was supposed to convey.
Don't give up the day job :-)
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Colorado David on April 25, 2012, 12:55:07 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eV9YIpaTKQc
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 25, 2012, 02:40:23 PM
fwiw Are "Artists' Statements" Really Necessary? (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-grant/are-artists-statements-re_b_701604.html)
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Isaac on April 25, 2012, 02:49:54 PM
I read someplace that the idea for an Artist Statement started in the early 1950s. ... if true, the original idea behind the Artist Statement was probably tied to McCarthyism.

There was also the rise of Conceptual Art - perhaps the concepts were not apparent without an accompanying text.

My guess is that the larger factor was an expansion in fine arts programs at universities, artists statements seem a convenient tool for judging students - Why do you need an artist statement? (http://www.sfai.edu/artist-statement)
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Justan on April 26, 2012, 10:48:15 AM
^ This is as good of speculation as anything. According to the link you provided, the AS amounts to something that someone demanded of you. Why not? If someone wants to sell something on Craigslist, or anywhere else, they need to write a for sale ad, and I donít see the AS as being a whole lot different, except that itís typically much more of an indirect or even oblique way of writing: ďBuy my stuff so I donít have to get a real job!Ē

Perhaps more pertinently, the development of the university system of education through the early 20th century was a big deal in the US. While I donít remember when schools of art and architecture became part of the U system, I do recall several of my art history profs saying that the university system of education essentially replaced the artistís guild system, which was the previous standard for an art education.

In doing a little bone head research over a few days courtesy of Mr. Google, Iíve found a near absence of references to any formal study of the history of the AS. I poked through Google scholar and a bunch of other references. As far as this kind of dork research goes, there is no direct account i came across that even hints at a direct answer to the question of origins. If I were still a student it would be fun to take a Michel Foucault like approach to the development of the AS.

Perhaps the history of the AS is not all that important to the question of using one, but to pursue this, the next logical step would be to contact an art history prof at one of the local Uís to see if she/he has any knowledge on the topic. I donít plan to do this but someone with an interest might fire off an email. During my studies of art history we talked about a lot of stuff, but i don't recall the topic of an AS coming up. That was back in the 80s. As the article you linked clearly shows, itís now part of the curricula.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: kencameron on April 26, 2012, 07:23:49 PM

In doing a little bone head research over a few days courtesy of Mr. Google, Iíve found a near absence of references to any formal study of the history of the AS. I poked through Google scholar and a bunch of other references. As far as this kind of dork research goes, there is no direct account i came across that even hints at a direct answer to the question of origins. If I were still a student it would be fun to take a Michel Foucault like approach to the development of the AS.


Surely research would need to start by looking at the history of visual artists writing about their own work, for which there is abundant material going back at least to the Renaissance. Subsidiary and separate questions would be when some of this writing took a form similar to what are now called artist statements, and when the term itself was first used.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Justan on April 27, 2012, 10:16:36 AM
^To each his or her own approach, but to me your suggestion is the long way around and would lead to a lot of time spent reading. Of course if someone wanted to spend a lot of time reading, it would be great. Sadly I have little time for that kind of thing, and due to that was searching for someone thatís already written a history of the artist statement, or someone who has done some works in the area that made their way to Google scholarís research. There may be some as I havenít done a formal study, or even a made sincere effort. Were I to do that, Iíd start by contacting the dept. of A&A at a local U and ask one or two of the profs about it. At least thatís what I typically did in the time I attended a U. After all, what point is served by spending countless hours with a goal that is little other than re-creating a wheel, so to speak.

However, I do agree that if one wanted to truly learn the broader sense of what an artist or many artists had to write about themselves, then a much greater depth of study is advisable.

But heck, one doesnít need to read much of anything to put together 2-4 paragraphs of sycophantic fluff, which is typical of many AS. You can just look at a couple of your favorite artists, modify what they wrote a little, and call it your own.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: kencameron on April 27, 2012, 06:06:05 PM
^To each his or her own approach, but to me your suggestion is the long way around and would lead to a lot of time spent reading.
Fair point, although I would have to say that it is the approach I would follow even if I had only a short time (and assuming there was no prof to ask - certainly by far the best method) because it would allow an initial narrowing down of the scope of my search. "Artist statement" is a subset of "artist writing" and might be easier to find in that context than in the context of the whole of knowledge (so to speak). Having said that much, I really have no choice but to give it a go, do I? I will do so and report back.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: kencameron on April 27, 2012, 08:20:37 PM
Having said that much, I really have no choice but to give it a go, do I? I will do so and report back.

The unremarkable results of an hour or so on line, viewed through the filter of my own prejudices:

There is nothing much from before around 1970, although I found a reference from 1952, which I will chase up the next time I visit my local library.

Earlier comments about marketing are confirmed. Galleries require artist statements and sites aimed at aspiring professionals provide advice on how to write them.

That advice is not always good. "Show it to a fellow artist" is common, but surely "show it to a journalist or an advertising copywriter" would be better.

Often it is the artist, or their career choice, that is being marketed, rather than the work. Many artist statements are fragments of autobiography.

The artist statement is often a locus of intense anxiety for the artist, an occasion for uneasiness. On the other hand, some artists seem to find them all too easy.

Earlier comments about the link to conceptual art are confirmed. In such cases, the actual work may add little to the statement, or even detract from it. This is particularly the case in conceptual art with a political subject.

Texts that look like artist statements from earlier centuries tend to be by famous artists who have something interesting to say about their artistic philosophies. There may have been garbage back then, but time has buried it.

Contrary to my own earlier view, there does seem to be some correlation between the quality of the statement and the quality of the work. Cliches in the one are sometimes associated with cliches in the other, and quality with quality. But this is not always the case.

The earlier comment about the value of a "foucaultian" perspective is on the money. The artist statement is a central part of the "discourse (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discourse)" of the contemporary art world.
Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: Justan on May 01, 2012, 10:11:02 AM
Thanks for taking the time to do some research!

> Texts that look like artist statements from earlier centuries tend to be by famous artists who have something interesting to say about their artistic philosophies.

Itís not limited to their artistic philosophies. For any semi serious art student, check out Vasariís ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giorgio_Vasari )  amazing body of works called ďLives of the Artists.Ē Hereís a partial translation: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/vasari/vasari-lives.html there are other translations to be found. It is an inspiring look into some highly influential artist, who date to the Italian Renaissance. Heavily political in its obvious favoritism for all things Florentine.

Just for the fun of it, contrast any of the writings by Vasari, with comments by Andreas Gursky, as example, found in the following brief review of Gurskyís works:
http://www.americansuburbx.com/2009/06/theory-andreas-gursky-big-picture-2001.html It shows a lot of how far society has come in several hundred years. Or not.

Title: Re: Artist Statement
Post by: kencameron on May 01, 2012, 06:21:39 PM
...the following brief review of Gurskyís works:
http://www.americansuburbx.com/2009/06/theory-andreas-gursky-big-picture-2001.html

Thanks for that link - fascinating, and the web site as well - I will be back there soon.