An artistic statement is one of the documents used in University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ admission to its five art conservatories. Along with an audition and an interview, an artistic statement is one of the best ways for growing artists to express their voice to others.
Just about everybody has a story and this is your telling of your story.Adrienne Pilon, English teacher and UNCSA High School Academic Support Counselor
There is no set formula to writing an artistic statement beyond that the statement has to have structure and organization, says Adrienne Pilon, English teacher and Academic Support Counselor for the High School Program at UNCSA. One can get very creative in his or her approach. Here is what she advises high school artists to do in writing an artist statement:
The first hurdle is to figure out what to write about. The key to an artistic statement is that it has to be about you and your passion. Ask yourself these questions: Why do you do your art? What does your art signify or represent to you? What is special about how you make or do your art? What does art mean to you?
The process of just writing without judgement or editing can help artists get at their basic philosophy. Pilon advises not to think about the final product, grammar or spelling mistakes or show your freewriting to anyone. Just write. Don’t freewrite on a computer, she cautions. There is a time for a computer, but not at this stage of writing an artistic statement.
“When I do this exercise in our high school senior English classes, I read the brainstorming questions and the students have to instantly write a response,” Pilon says. “There is no editing. No thinking about it. They are just writing whatever come to mind. This is part of the creative process.”
After you freewrite, see if there are any words, phrases or themes that stand out or that you repeated. Then on another sheet of paper, write just about the things that stood out in your freewrite. Write for about 10 or 15 minutes.
The biggest mistake that students make is that they write broad, general statements. Be specific. If it is going to be your artistic statement, your view, than the statement has to be written to include specifics about you.
One trick to locate where you are not being clear or when you get off topic is to read your statement aloud.
Don't rely on spellchecker.
A misconception in writing for admittance into an art conservatory is that you need to write in an academic voice. This is especially discouraged at UNCSA, where an artist’s uniqueness and individuality is cultivated rather than suppressed. To write in your voice, try verbalizing your thoughts.
“I do this thing where I take out my magic yellow pad,” Pilon says with a grin as she hold up a legal pad. “I ask them to tell me about their topic. I write down what they say and then I hand them the pad and say, ‘Write this.’”
Another way to write in your true voice is to record yourself. Image you are telling someone your responses to: Why am I an artist? Why do I do my art? Why do I feel this way about art? Talk about your first memory doing your art or about who inspires you and why.
“It gets students talking about themselves and their art and the stuff that comes up can be in their artist statement,” Pilon says. “Just about everybody has a story and this is your telling of your story.”