How to Write About Your Art

How to write a statement/proposal/prospectus/lecture/paper/thesis/whatever

  1. Panic.
  2. Sit down to write. Begin screaming. You are a baby bird, mouth open head tilted back screaming at the brutality of nature’s cold embrace as you begin to grow. Take a deep breath. Continue screaming.
  3. Question the very nature and apparatus of how you view the world and your work. Deny any knowledge you have used in the past to analyze yourself and your work. They are invalid. You, your education, your work is/are worthless. Forget everything you think you know about yourself. Make sure that you are completely unable to explain why someone should like your work. Forget what anyone who likes your work has said about your work, they know nothing. By now you should have accepted that your work is terrible and undeserving of praise, and you must make an excuse for why there is so much of it.
  4. Insist on originality. Reinvent the wheel. You want your work to rise from the ether untarnished by history and influence. You must separate yourself from all that came before. Don't even consider using conventional forms or ideas or thoughts or groundwork lain down at your doorstep by the swell of generations behind you. No, you are unlike any of them. You know more. Your experience is impossibly vast and unique. Sometimes if a thing has never been done before there is good reason. Sometimes there isn't. It must be original or you and your work are awful.
  5. Don’t talk about it with anyone else. Don’t take any suggestions from anyone. Don’t accept help. Don’t listen to people who love and respect you. Complete secrecy is the to key success, and miserably struggling alone is mandatory for artists!
  6. Skip the context, it is unimportant. Write anything you want. Put a collection of letters in any order with varied groupings. Whether those groupings are words is irrelevant, it will be accepted as though they are and analyzed as though this was done on purpose. The more you can obfuscate and create a mystery cult around yourself the more that humble gallery or arts council will want to work with you.
  7. Further to the previous: Make sure that your work and what you write about it HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH EACH OTHER. Make sure that what you intended, and what you see, what can be seen, in your work is completely undetectable and indecipherable to anyone, maybe even you. A true artist resents not only their own existence but also their audience. Make it impossible for anyone to connect your work to anything or anyone else. Make it impenetrable and obtuse, prevent prior knowledge & love & learning and appreciation. 
  8. To further reinforce the previous point: Make sure your work doesn’t do what you say it does. Make sure that when viewers look at your work and read your statement that it makes them question their sanity, and their ability to perceive the world around them. You want to provoke a resentful, “THIS SUCKS,” or “WHAT BULLSHIT,” “THIS IS FUCKING DUMB I’M GOING HOME,” “THIS MAKES ME WANT TO DESTROY SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL IT HAS REND MY INSIDES IN SUCH A CHURN.” It should be an assault on the senses, literally as in, “DO MY EYES WORK, ARE THEY CONNECTED TO MY BRAIN, AM I SEEING WHAT I THINK I AM..” And so on. 
  9. When you talk about your work, you should be as vague as possible. You should make statements that sound like questions, but are not in fact questions, and respond to questions with unrelated questions, non-sequitors, or just improvised sound effects. Either way, punctuate with a waffling upward inflection, a head tilt, and 2 seconds too long eye-contact and incredulity that your genius has not been easily received by the plebs. 
  10. If someone asks a question: Say words. Say words back to them, but do not answer the question. Don’t answer their question with a question. Don’t probe. Don’t pick. Just mumble and punctuate with a few key poly-syllabic words that don’t contribute in any kind of meaningful way.
  11. Don’t make any mention of the origins of your work. Don’t talk about things you like, or that influenced you or were formative. Talk only about yourself. Like you are the sole progenitor of the entirety of existence, and your works just manifest whole out of the ether. 
  12. Remember: You did this all by yourself. Don’t thank anyone. You earned this. There was no infrastructure, no support, no loved ones, no nothing, just you.
  13. Remember the curator, the board members, the executive directors, they’re the real artists. They demand umbrage. They take their commission. They grant the opportunity you did not earn and don't deserve. They allow you to continue to exist. Like a feudal lord, handing out plenty to their chosen servants groomed to support their own continued existence, to keep the system in place. APOLOGIZE FOR EXISTING. FOR ASKING FOR ANYTHING. YOU ARE A DOG SHIT PERSON. A GARBAGE PERSON. IT IS SUITABLY UNJUST THAT YOU GET A CHANCE AND DO NOT AND SUCCEED AND THEN FAIL. 

 

An artists statement is meant to give people a window into your work. It’s to grant them an opportunity to explore and sit with it. A statement is meant to make it easy for people to like your work. It’s some marketing wank, some crass elitist bullshit that we pretend is intellectual. We use obscure academic, critical and theoretical constructs as an evaluative method for something that may not merit such things. For some really smarty pants people, doing really innovative things, can be good at this. But for most of us, lets be real, it’s just, “Please invest in this thing, I made it for you, I hope hope hope you like it, it would mean a lot to me if you would get it, and then I would get to make more of these.” That’s really all it’s about. Maybe the goal is just to make the cookie you want to eat, and hope that somebody else wants to eat it too. 

Just in case this went over someone's head, I intend this list ironically.

It's not always like this, except when it is. I'm sure that some of my assertions come from my own jadedness and inconsistent success but this was a fun one. It was a kind of wacky journey, and I think it's important to express the absurdity of subcultures that purport to be primarily concerned with culture and beauty but are actually consumed with money and status just like everything else. Maybe I have an axe to grind, but the people who are concerned with money and status and the flow of commerce and all that shouldn't be butthurt, artists are too neurotic and disorganized to be able to do anything about the situation, or society or its structure. But we're superb at commentary. So look out for that.

   I think this was maybe as much about the whole creative process as it was about writing about ones art specifically. What do you write in the blurb of your book? The "About" page on a website? How do you respond when someone says, "tell me about yourself," and you don't want to come off as a self-absorbed piece of shit, though you may in fact be one. I try not to present my list of accomplishments right off, and really focus more on my current interests, but apparently it is more like being introduced for an audience with the king of wherever. Pedigree, filigree, stuff you've done, your status, blah blah, "Who gives a shit if it's a good idea, that's the guy who said it and we don't like him!" Weird how that happens.

Leave a like or a comment. Tell a friend. Read this aloud at a meeting about how not to conduct yourself online as a "professional." I'll end on this note: A friend recently complimented me on my disdain and loathing of straight men and I thought that was pretty cool. I can explain that more in-depth in a future entry if you want. I sold a few jewelry experiments I had made the other night, so thanks to those who picked up a leaf, or a love/death or a fuck off set of earrings. It means a lot that you'll fork over your dough for stuff I made. Also, youtube ads are 10x louder than they used to be and I'm not happy about it. But definitely watch this fucking weird thing. It's Mum-Ra from the Thundercats, doing Shimmy Shimmy Ya by Ol' Dirty Bastard, a song with which I was previously unfamiliar. I have recently watched all of the episodes of the original Thundercats though, so that'll tell you something about me. 

 

Coming up next is some studio tips. And maybe a more realistic version of how to make stuff. I dunno. Nobody asks for these things, and yet I keep doing them. See you soon.