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Artist Myth #9: Your Art Speaks For Itself

Artists who do not like to talk or write about their art insist that their work speaks for itself. If that were true, there would be no art critics, show catalogues or labels on museum walls. ~Aletta de Wal

You can say nothing about your art. It’s the choice that you have – it’s just a really bad idea.

The Choice of Not Choosing

No Talking ©2012 Lezley Davidson, ink & digital, 4 x 8

By choosing not to write about your work and to remain silent about your message and your purpose, others will gladly step in and do that for you. Others will decide your message, meaning, purpose and career trajectory without any input from you, or about you.

Flattering or not, accurate or not, you will quickly be defined and your work placed within the larger art landscape. You have relinquished control of the direction of your art career, which will never be fully in your hands again.

The Internet is Forever

The Wandering Angel / Foter

If you allow others to define your work and career, those are statements about your work that remain searchable and findable on the internet… forever. Even if they are inaccurate, misleading or just plain sabotoge – your silence allowed them to speak for you. Good luck in getting them removed later.

Consider adding Press Kit and Media Room pages to your website so that there is always accurate and up to date information about your art, message, meaning and career available and downloadable. This will allow you an advantage in controlling and directing what is said about your work and career, and also what associated images are published online.

Words Are a Bridge

Randy Son Of Robert / Foter

Words help make your art accessible to everyone. They act as a doorway to lead the uninitiated into your world, your meaning, your message. Your words can help make a connection.
Your words allow understanding to happen, your words are an invitation to meaning.

However, if you want to go the route of the mysterious, obtuse, misunderstood ‘artiste’…
…then your art is less about art than it is about your performance as an artist. Consider becoming an actor.

The reACTion Lab:

  • read a tonne of artist statements
  • note what you like, what you don’t, what speaks to you, what formats and modalities with which you resonate
  • an artist statement doesn’t have to be a dry academic historical treatise >> have fun with it, story it up, make it as playful, serious, contemplative, poetic as you are as an artist
  • an artist statement is reflective of you as an artist >> allow it to enhance understanding of your personality, charm and artistic purpose
  • subscribe to online writing blogs like Men With Pens
  • take an artist statement writing class >> yes, they exist.
  • download the Press Kit page & Media Room page checklists and add them to your website


Click here for Artist Myth #10 >>


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Many artists would love to have their only job be to create works of art, so that they could be in the studio or outside most of the time. It is the reason we chose this profession. It is what feeds our souls, but it isn’t enough to feed our bank balances.

There is no such thing as one big break. This doesn’t happen in any profession, and art is no exception. All great achievements happen through many small acts, staged consistently over time.

Some artists think their art appeals to everyone because family and friends are always enthusiastic.

Any artist who wants a successful art business cannot afford to live only in the confines of a studio where making art is the only reality. If you just want to make art, and ignore the business side, then you must have other ways to support yourself.

Some artists mistakenly believe that their chosen vocation entitles them to be “free spirits.” Normal rules and schedules do not apply in their world. They do whatever they want, when they want and how they want.

“I often hear artists say that they are too right-brained to do left-brained business tasks. They imagine that getting a gallery means that they will be able to wash their hands of the filthy business side of art. They assume that the gallery will handle every aspect of marketing and selling their work.”

Artist Myth #2: Society Owes Artists a Living. Some artists feel that their contributions to society and culture merit more financial support.

There is a romantic notion perpetuated by operas like “La Boheme” that artists must be poor. People who believe that the “true” artist is a “starving” artist think that this lifestyle keeps them “in touch” with creativity.