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Author Topic: Artist Statement  (Read 25371 times)
Colorado David
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« on: April 07, 2012, 05:11:35 PM »
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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?
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kikashi
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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2012, 02:51:43 AM »
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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
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john beardsworth
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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2012, 02:23:35 AM »
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Agree with Jeremy. If you must have one, use http://www.artybollocks.com/ ....
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2012, 07:59:33 AM »
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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.   Sad
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Walt Roycraft
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2012, 08:18:52 AM »
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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.
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Walt Roycraft
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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2012, 08:19:32 AM »
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oops, here's the link Embarrassed

http://www.writingtheartiststatement.com/#chart
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Josh-H
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2012, 12:00:39 AM »
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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 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.  Grin
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Carl Glover
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2012, 03:39:27 AM »
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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.

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kencameron
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« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2012, 06:07:17 AM »
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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).
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Josh-H
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« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2012, 06:11:41 AM »
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I guess its true.. can't please all of the people all of the time  Grin
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kencameron
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« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2012, 06:33:58 AM »
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I guess its true.. can't please all of the people all of the time  Grin

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). Did I say I really like your photographs?
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mediumcool
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« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2012, 07:59:52 AM »
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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
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Isaac
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« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2012, 01:41:32 PM »
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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 and locate the work within contemporary photographic practice INFORM

-- to tell the audience you understand what they want, what they need, who they are SELL
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Isaac
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« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2012, 01:56:08 PM »
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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
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Isaac
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« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2012, 03:49:48 PM »
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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.

  • When I read "I search for the pristine in nature:" my expectation is that the colon will introduce a list of things that are "the pristine in nature" - so I'm baffled to see a list of feelings?
  • When I reach the end of that long sentence, I'm baffled again by the notion that the natural world can have a "style" - the natural world can certainly be dramatic and powerful.
  • When I read "I seek out the dramatic and portentous" the first meaning that comes to mind for portentous is FORMAL DISAPPROVING too serious and trying to be very important.
  • When I read "In seconds, the mood can change from stormy to peaceful" I understand you to mean the mood inspired by the light, but when I read "from complex to secretive" I very much doubt that those are moods inspired by the light, and when I read "from tranquil to mosaic" I'm baffled again by the notion that "mosaic" is a mood.
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Josh-H
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« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2012, 03:18:51 AM »
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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...).
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john beardsworth
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« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2012, 04:18:08 AM »
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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.
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mediumcool
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« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2012, 04:35:22 AM »
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Bafflegab. And on a Flash site to boot.  Grin

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 multiloquence 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. Thus defining bafflegab using bafflegab.

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Colorado David
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« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2012, 10:45:52 AM »
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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.
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kikashi
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« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2012, 11:28:20 AM »
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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
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