Presenting your Photographs
Hanging the work, Titles and Artist Statement


You have created a series of photographs and are ready to present them on a gallery wall.
Your images should relate to each other thematically, tonally and stylistically. There should be a unity of design to the grouping of images. They should work together visually as a group from a distance before the viewer sees the details up close.

You should pay attention to the relationship between your images and the order they are in. Horizontal and vertical images can be mixed but take into account the visual impact they have. A single vertical image sticking up above a row of horizontal images will attract a lot of attention, make sure it is justified.

Titles simply are a way to identify one work from another. This could be just a number or letter, but that loses the opportunity to entice the viewers and draw them to the work for closer examination.Your work should "stand on its own" and provide a strong/meaningful viewing experience for the viewer. A good title should go beyond a simple identifier or description and entice the viewer to explore your images for meaning or relevance. You can title the grouping of images or give titles to every image or do both.

A title that is clever, plays on words or has a poetic leaning is more effective than one that tells the viewer what they already have figured out by looking at the image. You want your viewers to explore and read your photographs.

A simple photograph of an apple will provoke more thought when titled "Eve's Revenge" than when the title is "Red Apple".

Artist's Statement:
The artist's statement is your opportunity to introduce yourself to the audience and offer insight into your motivations and techniques behind your work. You use the statement to define what you would like the observer to get out of your work and create a connection between creator and viewer.

Your statement can contain information about you, the artist. You can share biographical information and information about your background and interests as it pertains to your work. You basically introduce yourself to the viewer in the first paragraph.

You can then explain your interests and motivations as it relates to your images. Why are you moved to make these images. How you relate to these images. How you feel these images fit in the spectrum of photographic art, who do you relate to, what are your influences.

You can finish by expanding on what the viewer is looking at in your work. What do you want them to "get" from your photographs. What clues can you offer to help them understand your message.

The statement should be concise and doesn't have to "give it all away". A little mystery is ok. Let your viewers make up their own minds but give them enough to leave them wanting to see more.

The art should speak for itself, it should be strong enough to work purely on a visual level. Your task is to make it even richer with strong/ poetic titles and an informative and intriguing statement. Paul Pearce

Feature Article
Artist Statement Do's and Don'ts
By Alyson Stanfield
ArtBiz Blog

An artist statement is a necessary component of any professional artists' portfolio or promotional packet.

When writing your artist statement, DO:

* Write in the first person. It is a statement, after all.

* Be brief, 2-3 paragraphs at most. Always err on the side of brevity. You can write more, but why would you want to? People have short attention spans these days. Load as much punch into the delivery as you can. Combine sentences and delete ones that aren't vital. As Henri Matisse said in his treatise on painting, "All that is not useful to the picture is detrimental." The same could be said of your statement.

* Describe the current direction of your work and your approach, particularly what is unique about your methods and materials.

* Sit on it for a few days and come back to it with a fresh mindset. Most artists, in my opinion, hate their statements because they rushed them in preparation for an exhibit and didn't care to spend any more time on them. How do you expect it to be any good if you don't work at it?

* Consider more than one statement if you are trying to discuss more than one body of work. If you try to get too much into a single statement, you run the risk of saying nothing and trying to be everything to all people. This is bad marketing/bad promotions.

* Allow your artist statement to grow, change, and mature along with your work. Don't let it sit on a shelf and collect dust. It should be organic and you shouldn't be afraid to change it and make it better.

* Make sure your statement passes the litmus test. Above all, viewers should be compelled to put the statement away and look back at the work. Your statement isn't successful if people read the words on the page, and then put them down and go on to the next artist.

When writing your artist statement, DO NOT:

* Use too many personal pronouns. Yes, I said to write in first person, but try to severely limit the number of "I"s, "me"s and "my"s that are used. You'll be amazed at how many other ways there are to phrase things. You want people to relate to your words and to your art. Too many personal pronouns will put up an unnecessary a barrier.

* Tell your life story. You can keep that for your bio (as long as it's interesting). Your artist statement is only about the current direction of your work.

* Quote or refer to anyone else by name. Keep the focus on you and your art. Mentioning another name shifts the readers' attention from your art to the other person.

* Forget to use spell check and ask someone else to read it over for you.

View the time to write your artist statement as an opportunity to clarify your thoughts. A well-written statement, approached deliberately and thoughtfully, can be a boon to your self-promotion efforts. You'll use the language on your Web site and in grant applications, press releases, brochures, and much more.

Alyson B. Stanfield is an art-marketing consultant, artist advocate, and author of I'd Rather Be in the Studio! The Artist's No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion.