Continuing with my mini-series about how to use Facebook’s “25 Random Things About Me” to write promotional materials.
The next question is from an artist who wrote:
I was intrigued by your letter today in the FAS newsletter. I just joined Facebook to find out more about the “list” of 25 things about yourself. After you compiled the list, how did you write it into an artist statement? I really feel clueless how to start. You are a very good writer!”
(This was the question I was going to answer first because of the compliment. Always feel free to put those in, btw….!!)
Okay, so first, you can’t just use the 25 Random Things as your artist statement. That would be a loooong statement!
The list is a) a warm-up exercise for learning to write easily about yourself. And b) a source for snippets about yourself that get to the heart of what you do.
Just like musicians might play scales to warm up for performing, this list is a warm-up for more ‘serious’ writing.
It’s also a way to ‘warm up’ to putting more passion into your artist statement.
I picked “artist statement” as an end goal for this warm-up exercise. In reality, artists need all kinds of self promotional materials: artist bio, cv (curriculum vitae, sort of a ‘life resume’ with your art as a focus), artist statement, press releases, etc.
Some of your list items are going to jazz up your statement. Because unless you think people go crazy with excitement reading lists of your exhibits and educational background, you must learn to talk about your art with the same passion you use to make it.
You don’t have to go over the top–no drama major needed. But think about ways to talk about your art that shows why it really, really matters to you–and that it isn’t just “something you do” to fill in your spare time. Even if it is only that, you can talk about that in a way that is more engaging than, “Well, I was bored, so I made this stuff.”
Don’t be afraid to tell people what you care about.
Think of the 25 Random Things as a way to collect these things you care about the most. Some of them will provide you with a jumping-off place.
In my last post on this topic, we left off with the suggestion that a good artist statement should make you want to look at the artist’s work again. Some of you did that experiment with the artists I suggested, and graciously acknowledged that it worked. Yay!
The key to the 25 Random Things is, somewhere in a good list, there is something you’ve listed that might make people “look again”.
If your art is light-hearted, your approach to your 25 Random Things list, and your artist statement might be light-hearted, too. Remember–light-hearted art is not necessarily lightweight art. Laughter is powerful medicine. Humor can be a powerful weapon. Whimsy can still be serious stuff.
You might also choose different approaches (more serious, more whimsical) for different applications. For example, the “About Me” section of my blog has a more light-hearted approach. That’s because I want to entertain as well as inspire. Yes, I’m serious about my writing, but I’m willing to laugh at myself, too. (I just don’t want you to be laughing at me too hard, okay?)
The introduction to my art calls for a more serious, inspirational tone. It’s not that I don’t want you to have fun with my work. But it’s not what you’d call “whimsical”. It’s a different manifestation of what I bring to the world.
My actual “artist statement”, is no longer on my website. I realize I should make room for it again.Here’s the short version of it:
I dream of the cave of Lascaux…
Its beautiful paintings of running horses,
born by the flickering light of torches….
Never meant to see the light of day,
yet brought to light in our lifetime.
Survived ten thousand years,
yet nearly destroyed by the breath of ten thousand visitors…
Too delicate to survive the climate of our modern world,
The cave was closed, and finally, sealed.
And lost again.
The horses now run
in the darkness of their cave
We do not understand the mystery of these paintings.
We know not what they meant to the people who created them.
Their message was not meant for us.
But their beauty and power create profound echoes
in our modern hearts.
What ancient, yearning dreams of hope and beauty
brought forth these haunting images?
Ten thousand years from now,
Who will know the makings of our hands?
And who will know the mysteries of our hearts?
If you go back to my 25 Random Things About My Biz, you will see the seeds of where that statement comes from.
I know there are other “rules” I’m breaking with this statement. I haven’t changed significantly in ten years.
But every time I think of changing it, someone who reads it for the first time tells me how powerful it it is.
And so I keep it.
Just as it’s hard to present you with a template for a statement, it’s hard to give you a step-by-step model for turning your list into a statement. I’m thinking about how to do that, and present it in more manageable form for you. It’s easier to do face-to-face, using a technique I’ll explain next time.
But for now, write up a few lists. Play around with them. Write some in a humorous vein, make others more serious. Put a star next to the entries that create a lump in your throat, or bring tears to your eyes.
Because…I’ll say it again, because it is so important:
Whatever makes you cry, that’s where your heart is.
And where your heart is, that is your truth.
Don’t be afraid to tell people what you really care about.
If it is honest, if it is heartfelt, it will be…POWERFUL. You’ll know. And your audience will know.
And when you speak the truth, it is so powerful, people will hear it and know it for the truth.