My article about using Facebook’s “25 Random Things About Me” exercise to create an artist statement appeared in the FineArtViews newsletter this week.
People are asking me exactly how to do that–turn that list into their statement. Should they just make 25 Random Things into their artist statement??
Well, you could, but I didn’t mean for you to actually do that. For one thing, that’s one looooong artist statement.
Rather, think of the 25 Random Things as a jumping-off exercise to do an actual statement.
I’ll respond to some of these queries today and in upcoming articles. Maybe some examples will help make this more concrete.
I was going to first address the question from someone who told me I was a very good writer. Flattery gets you everywhere!
But a comment from another writer should come first. Because this artist can’t even get started on the 25 Random Things.
The artist left this comment on my blog:
I have been confronted with the list a number of times – but find that I am either too shy or just simply unable to list anything because I am changing too often to want to simply put anything down that would be so permanent that I could not go back and add another two millions or so things on a constant basis
Let’s look at the beliefs behind this block, and address them one at a time. (And I don’t mean to pick on this one reader, because a LOT of artists feel this way…including, from time to time, ME.)
Shy I can’t help you with. Except…
Nobody will care more than YOU do, about what you do.
Corollary: If you can’t articulate why what you do is amazing, or explain why we should care about it, you won’t even be able to communicate that to someone you HIRE to do it FOR you.
Here’s an article I wrote awhile back about why it’s important to step up to the plate with your artist statement, your promotional materials, and yes, your 25 Random Things.
It’s not about writing “two million things”, it’s about selecting 25 things.
What would you think if an artist said, “I can’t paint, there are just too many things in the world I could paint. I can’t make up my mind which one to paint, so I just won’t paint at all.”
That’s not a painter with too much to do. That’s a great excuse for not being a painter at all.
We know this person is an artist. We’re going to apply the same principles to getting out and making art, to getting out there and doing the list, and getting out there and writing an artist statement.
You’re selective when you make your art. Be selective when you make your list.
This will help when you do your artist statement, too. Most artist statements are far too long. I saw one once at a show that was a full typewritten page, with miniscule margins in an even minisculer font. (Yes, I know minisculer is not a real word–I made it up!) I tried and tried to read it, and kept losing my place.
Plus it was just plain boring, which is sad because the work was exciting. Plainly, the artist had trouble putting the same passion that drove him to make that work, into his artist statement…. Which brings me to my next point:
It’s 25 interesting things, okay?
More on this in the articles ahead. And why most artist statements sound alike, and how to make your stand out.
Anything you write has to stay that way…forever! (NOT)
Now, I know I’ve stated in other articles that what you say online is there a long time. But the truth is, it will take some digging to find. Your little list of 25 Random Things is not the Gutenberg Bible. It’s not written in stone, either.
When you do those million other things, you can simply go back and change it. Or heck, write a new one. It’s okay–nobody cares how many times you do it!
It’s just for fun.
Nobody is keeping track of how many times you do it. Nobody is keeping score. Nobody is hanging out on Facebook with a judge’s hat on, saying, “Well, he had a good rhythm, you could dance to it, but the lyrics…!! I give it a 5.”
What’s matter-of-fact for you might be HOLY COW!! I DIDN’T KNOW THAT ABOUT YOU! for someone else.
I always think the oddest thing about my martial arts practice(s) is how old I am. In reality, most people are amazed I do it at all. I guess “artist” never seems to go hand-in-hand with kung fu.
Just as the things you’ve done so long or so long ago, they are something you hardly think about, could be a hook for your audience. I never knew my friend Mark was a yoga nut. Or that my friend Judy knows more about football than anyone else I know. It enriches my relationship with them.
Last, I recognize one of the blocks, this because I suffer from this one myself:
Here’s a tip: Perfectionism=Stultifying
Perfectionism keeps us from doing anything until we can do it perfectly. When, in reality, practice makes perfect.
The only cure for perfectionism is….
Start where you are. When you know better, do better.
If you don’t want to publish your list on Facebook, then don’t. But write it in a notebook or a journal. Set it aside for now. Pull it out when I write the next article on what to do with those 25 Random Things.
Extra credit homework: A list of some good articles I wrote on self promotion for artists.