Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Written Statements by Keith Bond

I subscribe to an e-mail newsletter from FineArtViews by Clint Watson. Here is a reprint of an article I thought worth posting here in my blog. It is a little long, but hope you will read it. I apologize to Mr. Watson as he has a way he wishes you to "republish". I did all he asked, but the formatting did not translate into the blog post. Nothing was omitted though, and I did create the links to anything he had as a link in his original post. I hope you enjoy it! Look for his blog and sign up. It is a good one.

Written Statements by Keith Bond

This article is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

It can sometimes be difficult to sort through all the advice we receive about marketing art. Some of the information seems contradictory – even when offered by the same person. I have probably given such contradictory information. Personally, there is a topic which has been causing me some frustration for a while. I am referring to writing your bios, artist statements, blogs, newsletter articles, press releases, etc. – really any written statement about you and/or your work. Perhaps some of you are also a bit bewildered about them.

Here is where I find contradictions in what everyone is saying:
Tell Your Story
Firstly, you are told to tell your story. Why do you create what you create? Why do you use your chosen media? Why do you paint your chosen subject matter? Why do you use certain techniques? What is your motivation? What do you want to say with your art? Etc.

Also Tell Anecdotal Stories
Every work of art has a story. Some of these stories may emerge when answering the above questions. But often there are additional anecdotal stories that add even more to the work of art. Perhaps while painting en plein air, a gust of wind blew your easel over and carried your painting away. You finally retrieved it 100 yards down the hill. Click here for other examples of this type of story. You’re told to share your stories.

What’s In It for Me (WIIFM)?
This is where I find the contradiction. We are advised to write from the collector’s point of view. Put yourself in the collectors’ shoes and ask “What is in it for me?”

I recently read an article on the topic. Unfortunately I can’t remember who wrote it right now. The point was made that every landscape artist is inspired by the landscape. Every figurative artist is inspired by the figure. Don’t write a statement that simply states, “I am passionate about the landscape.” I am guilty of doing this.

So, What Do I Write?
So, how do you write your story and make it unique and interesting when it is the same as everyone else’s story? Or how do you tell your story, share your inspiration, and even add interesting anecdotes, but do it all while addressing WIIFM? This is the challenge. I am slowly figuring it out. Maybe you are quicker than me and have it all figured out already.

I think that there are different levels or classifications of written material for marketing.

The more formal written material is where I think the more carefully crafted writing is found. I include Bios, Artist Statements, and Press Releases here. Make them interesting. Write them in a way that makes the viewer want to look at more of your work. Make them compelling. Consider the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) question. If you are careful and creative, you can write a statement that includes your story and addresses the collectors’ perspective. Take enough time to write and rewrite these. Revisit them from time to time and update or change them as you grow as an artist.

Less Formal
These may include your blog or newsletter. You don’t always need to craft these as carefully. There are times when it is important to address the WIIFM, but there are also times when you simply can’t share your story in that way. If you write enough blog posts, you have the freedom to move back and forth. Some blogs focus more on you, some more on the viewer. Don’t neglect the audience’s perspective. Give them reason to come back. But you can insert a bit more of yourself here.

What about Twitter? Alyson Stanfield recently wrote a great blog about using Twitter. She suggests that only 5% of your tweets should be self promotional. If you want to compel your followers to visit your website, these 5% need to consider WIIFM. Don’t simply write, “Visit my website to see my latest work.” This isn’t compelling enough.

So, To Summarize
You need to write your story, but wherever possible consider the WIIFM. If you are creative enough, maybe you can add it into almost every written statement. At the minimum, the most important statements need to address the WIIFM. The less formal statements should include it wherever possible, but don’t force them into areas where they simply don’t work (such as anecdotal stories).

Happy writing, Keith Bond

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