Artist Websites  Artist Websites |  Featured Artists |  Art Marketing  Art Marketing |  Art Contest |  BrushBuzz |  InformedCollector |  FASO Loves You - Share Your Art, Share Life


« Walker Stevens | Main | Did You Make That Up? What I Learned Today »

Follow this Blog

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Quick Links

Artist Websites and Good Design
How to Sell Art
How to Get Your Art Noticed by Galleries
SEO For Artists - The Ultimate Tip


Blog Roll

Mikki Senkarik's Blog

About the Artist
acrylic painting
advice for artists
art and culture
art and psychology
art and society
art appreciation
art blogging advice
Art Business
art collectors
art criticism
art education
art fairs
art festivals
art forum
art gallery tips
art history
art law
art marketing
art museums
art reception
art show
art studio
art supplies
art websites
artist resume advice
artist statement
Artwork videos
BoldBrush Winners
Brian Sherwin
Carolyn Edlund
Carolyn Henderson
Carrie Turner
Clint Watson
commissioned art
Cory Huff
Curator's Pick
Daily Art Show
Dave Geada
Dave Nevue
email newsletters
Eric Rhoads
exposure tips
FASO Featured Artists
Fine Art Shows
framing art
Gayle Faucette Wisbon
giclee prints
Guest Posts
Internet Scams
Jack White
Jane Hunt
Jason Horejs
Jen Piche
John Weiss
Juried Shows
Kathleen Dunphy
Keith Bond
Kelley Sanford
Kim VanDerHoek
landscape painting
Lori Woodward
Luann Udell
Mark Edward Adams
mixed media
Moshe Mikanovsky
New FASO Artist Members
Noteworthy Artist
oil painting
online art competitions
online art groups
open studio
plein air painting
press releases
pricing artwork
S.C. Mummert
sell art
selling art online
selling fine art online
SEO for Artist Websites
social media
social networking
solo show
Steve Atkinson
still life art
support local art
Think Tank
websites for artists
Zac Elletson

 Mar 2018
Feb 2018
Jan 2018
Dec 2017
Nov 2017
Oct 2017
Sep 2017
Aug 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
Apr 2017
Mar 2017
Feb 2017
Jan 2017
Dec 2016
Nov 2016
Oct 2016
Sep 2016
Aug 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
Apr 2016
Mar 2016
Feb 2016
Jan 2016
Dec 2015
Nov 2015
Oct 2015
Sep 2015
Aug 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
Apr 2015
Mar 2015
Feb 2015
Jan 2015
Dec 2014
Nov 2014
Oct 2014
Sep 2014
Aug 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
Apr 2014
Mar 2014
Feb 2014
Jan 2014
Dec 2013
Nov 2013
Oct 2013
Sep 2013
Aug 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
Apr 2013
Mar 2013
Feb 2013
Jan 2013
Dec 2012
Nov 2012
Oct 2012
Sep 2012
Aug 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
Apr 2012
Mar 2012
Feb 2012
Jan 2012
Dec 2011
Nov 2011
Oct 2011
Sep 2011
Aug 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
Apr 2011
Mar 2011
Feb 2011
Jan 2011
Dec 2010
Nov 2010
Oct 2010
Sep 2010
Aug 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
Apr 2010
Mar 2010
Feb 2010
Jan 2010
Dec 2009
Nov 2009
Oct 2009
Sep 2009
Aug 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
Apr 2009
Mar 2009
Feb 2009
Jan 2009
Dec 2008
Nov 2008
Oct 2008
Sep 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
Apr 2008
Mar 2008
Feb 2008
Jan 2008
Dec 2007
Nov 2007
Oct 2007
Sep 2007
Aug 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
Apr 2007
Mar 2007
Feb 2007
Jan 2007
Dec 2006
Nov 2006
Oct 2006
Sep 2006
Aug 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
Apr 2006
Mar 2006
Feb 2006
Jan 2006
Dec 2005
Nov 2005
Sep 2005
Aug 2005


Writing an Artist Statement: Consider the Magician

by Luann Udell on 11/19/2015 7:12:27 AM

This post is by Luann Udell, regular contributing author for FineArtViews.  Luann also writes a column ("Craft Matters") for The Crafts Report magazine (a monthly business resource for the crafts professional) where she explores the funnier side of her life in craft.  She's a double-juried member of the prestigious League of New Hampshire Craftsmen (fiber & art jewelry).  Her work has appeared in books, magazines and newspapers across the country and she is a published writer.  She's blogged since 2002 about the business side--and the spiritual inside--of art.  She says, "I share my experiences so you won't have to make ALL the same mistakes I did...."


Telling the “how” undoes all the magic you’ve created.


One of my favorite workshops to teach is how to write a powerful artist statement. I love ‘digging in’, like an archeological project, uncovering the inner motivations and yearnings of artists.


Someone suggested I should actually charge for individual services. And so I took on my first paying client, for the magnificent sum of what they would have paid for a class--$25.


My first client argued passionately for technique. They wanted a step-by-step of the process. They insisted that hardly anyone knows about it. (Inlaid wood. Got it? Good.) I spent some time trying to convince them otherwise, mostly because I was too tender-hearted to tell them most people didn't really care. But he was adamant.


I finally lost my temper. “Look”, I snarled, “you know who REALLY wants to know all about your techniques? OTHER WOODWORKERS!!!!!


In the end, they took my piece and paid me my $25. If I’d known it would include two hours of arguing, I would have charged $250.


Yes, sometimes--okay, often--people will ask you about your techniques. Yes, as an artist working in a fairly new but immensely popular medium, I get asked a lot how I achieve the effects I do. And sometimes I tell people a simplified version of the hours-long process it takes to create my time-worn, ancient-looking artifacts.


But I am here to tell you....


Most people don't really care.


And almost nobody really wants to know.


I can almost hear that collective gasp of astonishment and horror. Stay with me.


Focusing on the 'how' and the 'what' is not really what people want to hear, though they think they do.


Telling people in great detail how you make your work, and what you make it with, is like a magician telling you how he did his magic trick.


We all know there is no such thing as magic. We know magicians are masters at handling their materials, masters of misdirection, and masters of storytelling. But we love having our disbelief suspended for a few magical moments. Do you really think David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear? (If you do, please read no further, there is no point.)


And here's the real kicker. When I am told how the trick was accomplished, I am vaguely disappointed. I can feel the magic slip away. It's why the ending of movie or a book of, "...and then he woke up and it was all a dream" is so disappointing, and feels like a cheat.


In my own experience, I have found, time after time, that those people who are inordinately interested in my techniques over the story of why I came to make it, and what it means to me, fall into four categories:


1) They are artists themselves and want to make one, too.

2) They are teachers, and they want to teach it.

3) They really just want to know how it's made. That's it.


Very few of these people actually buy a piece of my work.


4) They are intrigued by my work, fascinated, moved deeply. And asking how it's made is their way of sussing out why they are so taken with it.  It’s the brain’s way of trying to make sense of what pulls at our heart and soul.


And eventually, most of these people DO actually buy something (though not necessarily right away.)


When I talk about my techniques, I use metaphors (“…a process like puff pastry, or samurai sword making…”) and shorthand (“…I use a scrimshaw technique to bring up the detail….”) I always…always…use these brief explanations to segue into why this cave and why I do this work.


I've learned not to overwhelm my actual collectors with too much technical detail. Again, Bruce Baker puts it succinctly in his seminars: Potters want to tell about their titanium glazes and the firing cone of their clays. But their customers want to know if there's lead in the glaze, and if they can use it in the microwave.


And if the clay piece is by Janis Mars Wunderlich, you probably don't even care about that.


A few years later, I was thumbing through a regional magazine, and came across a featured artist piece. There was my woodworker! They’d added a bit about their process, and the photos of their work was lovely.


But when I read the sentences I’d originally penned, I almost cried—they were still that powerful. It made me go back and look at the work again, even though I’d written it. And that, my friends, is a sign of good writing, and a good artist statement. (As opposed to the ones that make you scratch your head and go, “Wha….??”)


Be generous with your knowledge. Share your enthusiasm with your audience. Rejoice in your choice of media.


But never forget what is deep in your heart, where your true story is--the story that will resonate with the hearts of your true collectors.


It’s not really about the (polymer) clay. The clay is just a way to tell my story.



Your Art Deserves Attention and FASO Can Help

Get started today and we'll share your art with 50,000 art lovers tomorrow.



FASO: The Leading Provider of Professional Artist Websites.
FineArtViews: Straight talk about art marketing, inspiration - daily to your inbox.

InformedCollector: Free daily briefs about today's finest artists in your inbox.

BoldBrush Contest: Monthly Online Painting Contest with over $25,000 in awards. 

Daily Art Show: Daily Show of Art that reaches thousands of potential collectors.


Related Posts:

Respect Your Collectors Part 9

Questions You Don't Have to Answer: A Question From an Art Teacher

The Artist Statement: Art writers want information

Tell Me A Story: Tell a Better Story

Just for Today: Try Something Different

Topics: Art Business | art criticism | art marketing | artist statement | FineArtViews | inspiration | Luann Udell 

What Would You Like to Do Next?
Post your comment Join Email List Follow via RSS Share Share


Loading comments...

Thank you Luann for your honest , intelligent article .

K. Henderson
Very good, realist article. We artists hang around other artists so much we don't see the Magic in our work. You are right:Don't spoil the illusion.

Bert Sibley
I am sitting here saying out loud ...a big THANK YOU! You did a great job of describing how we; as artist: tend to think everyone is as involved with this new creation of mine as I am.
I agree, we think too much and listen too little.

I believe the best answer I've heard from an artist ; in describing their new work; is "This art make me feel good about me and my art" . One sentence says it all.

David King
I try to only describe the "why" in my statement and my blogging rather than the "how". I agree that most collectors really don't care about the "how" or if they think they do would probably be disappointed by the answer.

Heidi Zielinski
Great nuggets in this article. You're a wonderful writer and I appreciate what you have shared!

Mark Brockman
If someone asks about my technique, I will explained it, but simply. You can tell when you are giving to much information as thier eyes will glaze over. I don't care why they want to know either, but it is nice when someone asks.

Like David though, I'd rather talk about the 'why' then the 'how'. But sometimes I'm not sure they want that either even though they had asked. I wonder because even though I try to keep the 'why' simple too, thier eyes glaze over.

Maybe I talk to much!?

Jong Lee
Speaking of which...I just looked at your website and I think it is fantastic! And best "artist statement" I've ever read!

Barbara Blair
Your artist statement is excellent. I love it, and am inspired to incorporate one of my ocean poems into mine. I also love your website, and your "Animal Stories" page - magical. Thank you for your article.

Nenad KojiÄ
Great inspiration in so short text. Bravo Luann Udell.

Walker Stevens
Good Article Luann; I find the people who really want to know my 'techniques' are artists. I always tell them the entire process, if they're seriously interested, and I tell them, "Take notes."

Buyers want the shorthand version, if that, which is fine. Buyers usually want to be able to tell their friends 'why' they purchased one of my works. They want to be able to 'sound like they know what the big deal is' about my technique, which is fine.

I believe in the old adage, "The copying of your work is the truest form of a compliment." I don't 'just' want to be copied, I'm happy to explain in detail how I do my 'generational' and 'three-dimensional' works.

I sell quite a bit of art; and, my art is pretty 'pricy.' If I can help another artist to achieve their goal of being a 'Professional' artist, and actually make a living from the proceeds of their work, then I'm happy to have helped them realize their goal.

God has blessed me greatly in my life. Just keeping me alive, was one of His biggest jobs! For me to 'covet' my blessings, and not pass them on would be a grave error on my part. I hope I get a 1,000 artists a day who want to learn generational and three dimensional artistry.

Warm Regards,

Walter Paul Bebirian
if people don't get new ideas - inspiration - motivation - thoughts and whatever else is possible to get from looking at an image - then what I have created is meaningless to them - and that is OK - since there are some 7 billion other people on the planet who just might get one or all of those things from any one of my images -

from another perspective though - that one that gets it might be one in 7 trillion or 7 zillion people who comes after the 7 billion on this earth currently have long gone and left the planet -

this is not my difficulty -

it is my focus to continue to create and if I throw a little marketing art into the mix and that helps then so be it -

remember what someone said - was it Leonardo ? - artist see what others only capture a glimpse of - can I help it is everyone has time or interest or the ability to only capture a very vague glimpse of what lies right in front of them?

Luann Udell
You've all inspired another blog post today! Give me a bit to get it up, then visit my website for the blog tab.

Carol Hopper
I wish you would have included some examples. Your article is mostly about what not to do and I truly appreciate that. Yes, I like a story too. How about some examples?

Luann Udell
Carol, there are examples in my article on my blog today.
And your homework for the weekend, should you choose to accept it, is to do some deep thinking about WHY you do what you do, and WHY you use the techniques/tools/process you use.
"I love color", "I love light", "I love nature" etc. are not allowed as reasons. Keep challenging every answer you give with 'why?" until you can't stand it anymore.
Then ask it again.
Then I can give you some examples. :^)

Shun Lee
Luann is totally right about do not go into details about your art work, the real collectors do not care. I do not care to teach any body how to create my art work either. If any body really want to learn how to paint take my class, otherwise enjoy my creations.

carol a. grigus
thank you, Luann, for your Brilliant article...
..the some detail..
I plan to add a bit more of the 'why' to my statement....!....


FASO Resources and Articles

Art Scammers and Art Scam Searchable Database


FineArtViews, FineArtStudioOnline, FASO, BrushBuzz, InformedCollector, BoldBrush
are Trademarks of BoldBrush Technology, LLC Licensed to BoldBrush, Inc. 

Canvoo is a registered trademark of BoldBrush Technology, LLC Licensed to BoldBrush, Inc

Copyright - BoldBrush Technology, LLC  - All Rights Reserved