Writing Artist and Project Statements for Photography | Jennifer Schwartz | Skillshare

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Writing Artist and Project Statements for Photography

teacher avatar Jennifer Schwartz

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (13m)
    • 1. Trailer for the 10-Course Series, Crusade For Your Art

    • 2. Course 3 Introduction

    • 3. Why Statements Are Important

    • 4. Artist vs. Project Statements

    • 5. The Three Magic Questions

    • 6. Writing the Final Statement

    • 7. Project Description

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About This Class

Crusade For Your Art: Best Practices for Fine Art Photographers gives you the tools to take your fine art photography career by the reins and thoughtfully and purposefully develop a plan to get you where you want to go.  Learn how to tighten your work, develop your brand, identify goals and a plan for your photography, and strategically launch your project.

In this third of ten courses, you will learn why an artist/project statement is important and how to write one. For the course project, you will write a project statement for your most recent project or body of work.

Jennifer Schwartz is the creator/director of Crusade for Art, a non-profit organization focused on cultivating demand for art, specifically fine art photography. Jennifer owned a fine art photography gallery in Atlanta (Jennifer Schwartz Gallery) for five years, showcasing the work of emerging photographers. She also created the online project, The Ten, and is the co-creator of Flash Powder Projects. In the spring of 2013, she traveled around the country in a 1977 VW bus, engaging audiences with photography. Her book, Crusade For Your Art: Best Practices for Fine Art Photographers was published in March 2014.

Meet Your Teacher

Jennifer Schwartz is the creator/director of Crusade for Art, a non-profit organization focused on cultivating demand for art, specifically fine art photography. Jennifer owned a fine art photography gallery in Atlanta (Jennifer Schwartz Gallery) for five years, showcasing the work of emerging photographers. She also created the online project, The Ten, and is the co-creator of Flash Powder Projects.

Jennifer regularly participates in portfolio reviews such as PhotoNOLA, PhotoLucida, Atlanta Celebrates Photography, FotoFest, Medium, Filter and others. She was invited as a curator to the Lishui Photo Festival in Lishui, China in 2011 and travels around the country giving talks, guest-lecturing at universities, leading workshops and hosting photographic retreats with Flash Powder P... See full profile

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1. Trailer for the 10-Course Series, Crusade For Your Art: Hi. I'm Jennifer Schwartz on the creator and executive director of Crusade for Art, a nonprofit organization with the mission to educate, inspire and empower photographers to connect new audiences. Start I owned a commercial fine art photography gallery in Atlanta for five years, and I'm working with the photographers both with the gallery and with a nonprofit realize there is really a lack of information out there about how to navigate the fine art photography world. And it can seem pretty intimidating. Trying to figure out how to approach a gallery, how people get their books published. How museum collections acquire where So I wrote this book called Her Savory Our best practices for fine art Photographers. And this 10 core skill share series is gonna roughly follow the form out of the book. And it will talk about basically the ace ese to navigating the fine art photography world. How to edit in sequence your work, how to write an artist statement, how to cement work to a gallery, how to prepare for a portfolio review, how the price, your work, really everything. So I hope that you will join me and have fun and appreciate for your art. Thanks 2. Course 3 Introduction: in this third course in the first Aid Re art Siri's, we're gonna talk about writing project statements and artist statements. This is a topic that most artists dread your visual artists. Why do you need to write about your work? Well, we're going to discuss why it's important and how to do it, so enjoy it. 3. Why Statements Are Important: many photographers consider writing an artist statement or project statement. Very dreadful exercise. Andi. I can understand that it's difficult to write about your work, and it's often as a visual artist. Do you feel like the work should speak for itself? But there are a lot of valuable reasons. Teoh have artists and project statements, and you'll see why in this course. So when you're talking about writing a project statement for particular body of work, it's really important because you need to be able to speak about the work and it's really difficult. Teoh. Wrap your head around all of these different thoughts and ideas and concepts and emotions that you put into your project and to be able Teoh concisely and confidently communicate that to somebody else. So if you can write about your work, it will help you speak about the work, which is really important when you're trying to sell it to somebody else and as someone who you stone a gallery. If you is the photographer couldn't sell it to me, I couldn't sell it to anybody else. So a lot of times if someone asked, What's your work about? You kind of fumbled and stutter, and it might take you 15 minutes to spit it all out. And they say having that elevator pitch to be able to say And my work is about this is really important. It's a great introduction, and then from there you can go and launch into a longer conversation. The other thing, too, is that, like I said before there, all of these different things that go into making a project and you might have seven different ideas or themes that you feel are running through the course of the work. But you could say to me, I think this work is about A B, C and D. Andi. From a completely objective point of view, I can look at the images and say, Okay, I see A and C, but I don't see B and D actually coming through the imagery. But I also see F, which is something that was coming out into the work that you didn't even realize was there . So going through the process that we're gonna talk about answering some really important questions in doing sort of a stream of consciousness, discussion or flow of writing about your work will help you narrow down what those themes are that you think you're in the work and then give you some room to step back and objectively look at the images and consult with some other people and see if everything you think is there is there. If there's some things in there that you didn't realize we're coming through in the project , and then how toe pull all of that together to be able to talk about it and write about it in a really concise, strong and confident way. 4. Artist vs. Project Statements: before we dive into the debate about whether you even need in order. Statement. Let's talk about the difference between an artist statement on a project statement. So the term artist statement is often used refer to a general statement about the type of work and artists makes, whereas a project statement talks about a specific project within that photographers body of work. So in photography, where artists create different bodies of work with different narratives, it's important that each project has its own statement. When we're discussing an artist statement, typically, the photographer will have a general statement that summarizes the way the work is made, the different themes and narratives that we've throughout their entire body of work and the way the photographer looks at the world. So the general artist statement can be combined with a short bio on your website that would create just a few paragraphs that gives viewers a high level overview about you and your work. Here. You can see there two examples of artist statements that were incorporated into the photographers bio. They're short and they're effective. They give the reader sense of an overall concept or focus area for the photographer without digging in too deeply into. In the individual project, 5. The Three Magic Questions: Now we're gonna actually get down to writing the project statement there different types of statements you might need for even for the same body of work. You might need something short for your website or for to include, with any sort of submission Teoh a gallery or Teoh a competition. And then there are times when you might need a much longer statement to include with a catalogue of your work or something that goes into a lot more detail. For the purposes of this course, we're gonna talk about the short statement that you would include on your website that you would use for most purposes now how to do it. There are three questions that I think are really important Teoh be answered so that you can really flush out all of your thoughts and ideas and see what's important to include Now . The answers to all of these questions aren't necessarily going to appear in the final written statement, but you should know the answer so that when the statement and your elevator pitch launches into a deeper discussion about your work, you'll know how to answer these questions as well. So let's look at him the first question. What are you trying to say with your work? Now think about not just what you're photographing but what you're trying to communicate to the viewer. What's the story you're telling? Number two? Why are you making this work? How did you come to create the word? What inspired the project? Why did you feel like you needed to photograph this particular topic in this particular way ? In this one? It's really think about sort of this process that you're using. A lot of times you might decide you want to use a historic process to create this body of work or you're doing something technically different. Well, why Why are you doing that? How does it match the work? Why does it make sense for the word? Um And then And how did you Why are you even interested in creating a body of work about this topic? Why is that important to you? And then the next one is why is it important to someone else? So why should the viewer care? A lot of times we stumble across the topic of photographic topic and think, Oh, this is something that hasn't been done before. Well, that's not a compelling enough reason to create a body of work. So what is what you're saying? Significant and valuable? How are you making me? The viewer sees something in a way that I wouldn't see it otherwise. How are you making me feel something unique or important? What do you trying to get me, Teoh? No, or feel or learn or experience from seeing this work. What are you making me think about the deserves? Attention. This is all kind of the same question, but just different ways to think about it. But this one above all of these, why's your voice the best one to transmit this information? Why are you how are uniquely positioned to tell this story? So you want to think about these three questions and start a stream of consciousness flow of writing. If if speaking out loud is easier for you, you can maybe record a conversation, a dialogue with someone else, or just record a rambling of your thoughts and then jot down notes later. But you're gonna take all of this information and then start pulling together the points that keep coming up. The things that seem really significant to the project to include and you're gonna create the project statement out of that. Do you think about the project statement? You don't want to tell the viewer everything they should think and feel when they're seeing this body of work. You really just want to give them a bit of context so that they have a sense of what they're about to be seeing. A lot of times, I think about it in terms of going to museum and seeing the wall text about an exhibition that you're about to view. You read the wall text. It's a paragraph or two, gets just a little bit of background context so that you can say, OK, I'm about to see this and this is what It's a little bit of what it's gonna be like and some interesting background about the project. So hopefully that's helpful. And you can start Teoh, write and write and write, and then next we'll talk about how to pull that together 6. Writing the Final Statement: So you've gone through the exercise doing a stream of consciousness flow of writing, and I have to figure out which words to include. You have a lot of them. How do you narrow it down? How do you create an artist statement that just gives some insight framework for people to understand your art? You want to tell the viewer the concept in the motivation for making the work. You want to draw people in and make them want to see your images, but you don't want to give them a full history of your life with the camera. Take a look at everything you've written down and then organized in a way that makes sense until is the most cohesive story. You want to cut out any pieces of information that seem unnecessary or they don't really talk about the work, then grasped the key elements to avoid versus generalizations. Be a specific as you can when you right so you won't avoid sweeping generalisations. Vague language. Say exactly what you mean and analyze every single word and make sure you're not adding fluff in an attempt to sound deeper, artsy or smart, you should sound like yourself just a more polished version and more succinct reticence. Now there's a fine line between presenting your work confidently and sounding arrogant, but sounding like you believe in yourself and your work is essential aren't speak Throwing in technical turns. Our history of flowery language is just gonna put the viewer off and Jura and detract them from your concept. So you don't want them to spend all of this energy trying to figure out what you're saying in your artist statement. They're gonna be exhausted by the time they get to the work self importance. So this is the other end of the spectrum from reticence declaring your work to the exceptional church. Sure to change the way the world looks at art is unnecessary. It's really off putting to the viewer. If it's brilliant, it'll be obvious. And then finally past tense. You're writing about work being viewed in the present tense, so you should write about it that way, regardless of when you made it. Writing in the present tense is active, and it lends a feeling of relevance and vitality, so hopefully at this point you can consolidate all of the information that you've written down and pulled together a statement that feels like your work and that will give someone a really great context, a little bit of background, a little bit of insight into what you were thinking when you created the work. 7. Project Description: for your project, you're going to write a project statement about a current or recent body of work. So the way that we can all participate would be Teoh. Provide a link to your website that shows the work that you'll be writing a statement for. If you don't have the work up on a website, you can create a Flickr page. We can create a sly that has thumbnails of these images. The next step would be to do this stream of consciousness flow of writing. So answer the three magical questions and see where that takes you. So just go with it. Even if it doesn't have to make sense, it can be really repetitive. You don't have to worry about correct grammar spelling. Just put it all out on the paper, and that will be the second piece of the project presentation. And then the third piece would be to pull all that together and create a really concise, strong statement that accurately reflects what your work is about.