I’ve been working on rewriting my artist statement lately, so i have something a little cleaner when i send it out to publishers.
My feelings on this range from “ew” to “argh.”
I don’t know of any artists who honestly say they enjoy writing artist statements. Statistically speaking there must be some somewhere, but i’ve yet to meet them. Probably at least partly because it’s not “making art,” it’s “writing about making art.” I enjoy writing, enough so the writing aspect doesn’t really bother me, but it’s still like writing about bike riding, or about playing the bodhrán, or about knitting. I don’t mind writing about it, but i’d rather be doing it.
Then there’s the “dammit, this should be obvious” aspect. At its most basic, an artist statement exists to answer two questions: “Why do you draw, paint, manipulate, whatever?” and “What draws you to this specific style or subject?”
I’m sure at some point a cheeky performance artist carefully typed those two questions on a sheet of paper and then hand-wrote beneath them, “Because i want to” and “I like it.”
Me? I do what i do because… i want to. Downright need to. Because i have stories in my head and i hate editing written stories, so i have to find some other way to get them out – which isn’t to say i haven’t written entire novels, songs, musical compositions; i’ve done everything from collages to choreography to jewellery-making. Illustrations just happen to be what i’m best at.
And yes, all those stories in my head are almost exclusively science-fiction or fantasy. I’ve long been convinced the world is a far more fascinating place than anyone realises, but odd and interesting events tend to be mentally adjusted until they fit our idea of “normal” as close as possible. I’ve pretty much reached the point where i don’t believe the “real world”, as we all see it, exists; what-we-see is just a filter on a slightly more surreal world. From there it’s almost too easy for every idea which pops into my head to move a little further into the surreal/fantasy/sci-fi worlds.
I’m not sure the whole existential philosophical borderline-insane approach will really work very well in an artist statement. It’ll be fun to see how this post works out the next time someone tries to force me into seeing a shrink, though.