ARTIST BIOS: THE NEED TO KNOWS
So you have decided to take the next step in your art journey - participating and showcasing your artwork through different platforms, organizations, and opportunities. Awesome! Do you have an artist biography (artist bio)? If not, you’ll need it in general and for many reasons.
What is an artist bio?
Essentially, it’s your biography as an artist - an overview of you. It details your background and upbringing, what inspires you and your work, your prior experience or education, and the direction of your art. Think ‘elevator speech’ or cover letter in creative written form.
Why do you need it?
An artist bio is an important aspect of your professional presentation. When participating in events and competitions, submitting to artist calls, and featuring your artwork in galleries, most organizers and curators request (require) an artist bio along with samples of your work and online portfolio. This is normally the first step in being in contact with any organization with regards to your art. You should have an artist bio before you create your online portfolio/websites. Many artists use their artist bios for interviews and in their “About” sections on their websites. This gives your audience and potential clients more insight to your brand aside from your marketing strategy. Many people might admire your work on social platforms but do they really know you and what drives your art? You should always have a current artist bio available, as having it is pretty much the standard and will be expected. Know that if it’s not requested, RUN! Trust me, you’ll want to be weary of people, organizations, or events that want your art/participation but do not inquire about you, the artist behind the art.
How do you start?
Let’s face it; as visual artists, our “stories” are normally portrayed via pencil, pen, paintbrush, etc. Words? Eek! That does sound scary and intimidating. Believe me, it can be hard to conceptualize who you are into a few paragraphs, but creating an artist bio will help you verbalize yourself on paper BEFORE you verbalize yourself in person (that’s normally next if both parties decide to move forward). So relax and think about these 6 fundamentals:
- Your name/introduction (1 sentence)
- Where you’re originally from (1 sentence)
- Your current base location if you're work/shipping capabilities are location dependent (1 sentence)
- Prior notable art-related experience/education with art (1 sentence)
- How or what life experiences have helped shape your look on the world/made your art unique (2-4 sentences)
- The current direction of your art (1-2 sentences)
With these fundamentals in mind, write down how they apply in your life and art endeavors in 10 minutes. Worry about the editing and cutting down later. Just get your thoughts out on paper and figure out what you want your initial contact to look like.
How do you finish?
Use clear concise sentences in THIRD person. Your artist bio should primarily use “she” or your name for the most part, similar to an interview. Make sure not to exceed 300 words (aim for 1-2 paragraphs) and limit the jargon to none.
If this is your first artist statement, this can take a while. My first artist statement took me a few days to formalize. I’ve always been a talented writer, but this time, I had to take a step back and ask myself what my purpose is, what my style is, who I am as an artist, and how they all intersect. And it didn’t help that I can write and talk about the arts for DAYS. My first draft was literally two pages – mind you, I edited DOWN to two pages. But it felt good. I got my thoughts down on paper and I defined who I am as an artist. My close friends helped me narrow out what information to include in my artist statement and what information should be shared during a more personal follow-up meeting/interaction or somewhere on your website. It was a group effort. So if you can, find a pair of fresh eyes to review and edit your final version.
Need some reference?
Check out some great examples below:
"Raised in Atlanta, GA, Bri Simpson's acrylic paintings often combine vibrant color pallets, cloudscapes, flowers, and female figures. She is drawn to the connection of women to nature: physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and often reflect these elements in her work. After graduating Georgia State University with a Bachelor's in Journalism, Bri uses her love for writing to create stories for her paintings. Over the last three years Bri Simpson has shown her work locally in Metro Atlanta, as well as in Philadelphia, Chicago, Brooklyn, Houston, and Miami. Outside of her own creative efforts, she serves as the Creative Director for ABLRadio.com, an Atlanta based blog and interest radio that focuses on platforming and spotlighting emerging creatives in art and music."
"Sue Tsai is a 29 year old artist and designer born and raised in New York with a lifelong dedication to the visual arts. With both of her parents as fine artists, Sue has grown up under a creative influence her entire life. After studying at Hofstra University in Long Island and earning a degree in Marketing, Sue decided to take her business skills and apply them to her dreams of an art career.
Sue’s bold and edgy work reflects an impressive crossover of art, fashion, and pop culture. As an artist Sue works with acrylic on canvas as well as mixed media sculpture. Her inspiration is creating contemporary art for the younger generation, in hopes that they can relate and appreciate fine art in a world where everything is now digital. Sue’s vision that art can be for everyone, has newly inspired a generation of young collectors and aspiring artists. Her pop surrealism style has infiltrated into the music industry creating major collaborations with stars such as Rihanna, TI, and Wale. Sue has exhibited her eye catching work not only in prestigious shows nationwide including Art Basel but internationally at some of the biggest events across the globe including the Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco.
Sue’s creative talents and on-going entrepreneurial ventures have no doubt brought her brand to the next level in the art industry. With an immense viral following along with her drive for success, Sue Tsai continues to flourish in the creative spotlight not only as an artist and designer but as an inspiration for the up and coming young professionals, all while changing a generation’s culture of art."
- Sue Tsai
"Born in Washington, DC and raised in Bowie, MD, Sasha-Loriene is a 27 year old self-taught painter. Using acrylic paint as her medium of choice with no formal education or training, Sasha-Loriene weaves together different themes and techniques to capture her thoughts, feelings, and interpretation of the world in every piece. The goal of her art is to tell a story, using art as her voice, creating a personal experience for all where the audience is encouraged to not only reach deeper within each painting, but also within themselves. Her passion for the arts, raw talent, and academic background in public service have ignited her lifelong mission of encouraging creativity, thought, and expression in the community. As such, Sasha-Loriene has participated in several events and exhibits in Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia, and New York."
"Kwanzaa Edwards is a mixed media painter who currently lives and works in San Antonio, Texas. Her work depicts the female figure in otherworldly realms, presenting them alongside a psychological situation. Her beautiful characters are placed unapologetically in their respective universes. These are settings for which the constraints of logic does not exist therefore anything is possible. The confidence and strength shown in Kwanzaa’s ladies draw the viewer into their world, placing the viewer in the same frame of mind. Born in Port Arthur, Texas, art has always been apart of her life. Her illustrative style comes from a love of cartoons and manga. The mental journeys of her life as well as those she grew up around, serve as her inspiration. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Art from Lamar University. Kwanzaa’s work has been featured in galleries and in private collections across Southeast Texas.
Go forth and create awesome artist bios ladies! Be sure to cater them to your own personal experiences and endeavors. If you have any questions or would like a peer edit of your artist bio, feel free to send me an email here.