by Steven Barnes
Promoting art has become an industry standard as well as an absolute necessity for artists in the art world today. In order to gain recognition and connect with your audience, you actually need to reach out to them and point them towards your work. While there are a number of documents that an artist needs to have, one of the most important and effective ones is a carefully crafted artist profile that describes your work as well as your artistic philosophy.
An artist profile is meant to tell the people who discuss and follow the art world about you and the art you make. It lets you engage tastemakers and, consequently, get them to bring your art to the attention of galleries, art institutions and potential buyers. Done correctly, an artist profile can set both you and your art apart from the crowd. It can tell people about what makes your work interesting and relevant. It can also describe a distinctive approach, highlight the use of unusual materials or reveal the compelling story that your art tells.
But, most importantly, an artist profile is simply a way of putting you and your pieces on the art world radar. To do that, you need more than just a good story—you need to be able to tell that story in an effective, engaging and concise manner. Following a few simple rules can make your artist profile a powerful aid in putting your art in front of potential buyers.
Know Your Story
Before you begin to write your artist profile, take some time to consider the image of yourself you’d like to present. Make a list of relevant questions, like the sample one below, and spend some time thinking about them.
- What do you think are the most important characteristics of your art?
- What is the main thing you want your art to communicate to viewers?
- How does your personal history relate to the art you produce?
- What makes your process and approach different from that of other artists?
As you go through these questions, as well as any others you think are important, write your answers to all of them down. Your artist profile will need to be direct and to the point, so you will need to go through the various points you want to make and pick the ones that are the most essential. Having a written list in front of you will make that job much easier.
Starting on Your Artist Profile
The first sentence of your artist profile is your biggest chance to connect with your audience.
Make sure that it clearly sets out the main issue you want to address. Refer back to the list you have made and settle on one or two major points—no more. You are trying to hook your reader, so clarity and brevity are key.
The last thing you want is a run-on, meandering first sentence for your artist profile. The other thing to remember about your lead is that you will most likely be distributing your profile online. That means that you should be aware of search engine optimization, or SEO.
Well-placed keywords in a headline or lead sentence increase the likelihood that online searches will lead potential readers to your profile, creating more possibilities for its success. Addressing essential points, like the medium used or the major stylistic focus of your work, as early and quickly as possible will raise the chances that the people who are likely to be interested in your work will be led to it.
Know Your Audience
It’s probably safe to assume that the people who read your artist profile will already be interested in art, but that does not mean that they possess the same level of knowledge that you do. If you compare your work to a particular school or style of art, try to make sure it is fairly well known.
The same goes for artists. Saying your work is influenced by Pablo Picasso or Jean-Michel Basquiat is fine, but comparing it to a more obscure artist is not going to work in the limited amount of space that a good artist profile provides.
Also, you should keep your language as simple and clear as you can. This means as little jargon as possible, and as few adjectives as you can use while still getting your story across. The more active and engaging you make your sentences, the more effect you will have.
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Illustrate Your Points
You know that saying about a picture being worth a thousand words? Follow it. No matter how well you describe your work, nothing can take the place of actually showing your reader what it looks like. Make sure that you pick something that clearly represents the main focus of what you do, and also keep in mind how your profile will be distributed and tailor any pictures to that. If you want readers to see more than one picture, it might be best to include a link to your own website, or somewhere else where they can access more images.
Talk About Yourself
While the main point of an artist profile is to draw attention to your art, most readers like knowing something about the artist as well. If your paintings of the Japanese landscape are the result of years that you spent living and working there, say so. If a particular world view or philosophy is a central part of the story you want your art to convey, a brief reference to that would make the discussion of it more personal, and therefore, more likely to connect with your audience.
However, one point to note here is that you must make sure your artist profile does not only provide the reader with your biographical information. Only add this if it relates directly to your practice or inspiration.
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Keep It Short
Remember that list we discussed earlier? To make a really effective artist profile, you may have to remove a few things from it. An artist profile is not an essay—it’s an announcement. You need to make a direct, immediate impression. Give your readers just enough information to keep them wanting more.
You can’t tell people the whole story of your work in a artist profile, you can only give them the most compelling reasons for why they should have a look at it. If you simply attract their interest, the profile has done its job.
Do Your Homework
Proofreading and copy editing may not be fun or creative, but they are essential. Pay close attention to spelling, sentence structure, and factual material. Sweating the small details makes your artist profile look like the professional document that it needs to be, and increases the chances of you and your work being taken seriously.
Following these steps should help you write an artist profile that will impress the opinion makers, and hopefully lead potential buyers to your door.
After all is said and done, make sure to remember that your artist profile will grow and change with you. Don’t be afraid to edit it as your artistic style changes, as inspirations come and go, or as techniques and subjects develop with time. No artist creates the exact same works over and over again, and your artist profile should reflect that movement through your artistic journey.
Want to give your art more time, and leave the marketing and promotional hassles to someone else? Visit our Gallery Representation And Artist Promotion page for more information.
To view more samples of artist profiles for artists, head over to our website and browse through the carefully crafted pieces written for our represented artists.