I had to write three artist statements to apply for a show a couple of days ago. They asked for a 150-word artist statement for each piece. Artists have to write statements over and over again on the same piece because every show has different requirements or the statement needs to communicate how the piece suits the theme of the exhibition.
I've been reading and writing artist statements for 30 years. Trust me, as a rule, they are terrible. Either the artists are writing them for themselves and they don't write well, or they or their promoters are trying to make them sound erudite by bedazzling the copy with art theory buzzwords. And then there are the artist statements and biographies that have been badly translated from other languages. Hilarious. Tragic.
After a quick google search I landed on a service called Anyword. I found immediate trouble and confusion because Anyword funnels requests into specific task types like blog post, marketing copy etc. They didn't have a task called "artist statement" so I made two attempts under different task types. Both times the tone was completely off for an artist statement. I got endorsement-type and advertising language that is completely inappropriate for an artist's statement. You don't write about your own art like you are promoting someone else's. If I got an artist statement from someone full of marketing hype, I would be disgusted.
It had a few nice phrases that I might consider plugging into my own writing, but that's about it. But the time it takes to carefully type key words and prompts into the fields did not justify the results. Anyword is useless for artists.
I wrote my statements myself and sent them in.
People are raving about ChatGPT, so last night I decided to try again to see if I could get better results with the AI darling of the moment. I found it much easier to use than Anyword. It only asked for a simple prompt instead of filling out multiple fields. My prompt was:
"150 word artist statement about a woven glass and reflective bead mosaic on a 36" round acrylic convex mirror titled "Arctic Ice Sheet".
I got very impressive and useful results. I already closed the window otherwise I would paste them here. It wasn't perfect. If I were going to use those results I would go in and tweak phrases here and there and add some personal touches. Best of all, as far as I can tell, the AI has not consumed a lot of art theory, art criticism, or elite artist statements and is not throttling comprehension of a general audience with artspeak.
I demand that this tool to be a mandatory part of every artist's toolkit. I assume it will cost money to use in the near future. If so, I hope that public libraries and universities will make it available to their patrons for free. This is a selfish ask as someone who works with artist statements. As an artist myself, it will save me a ton of time re-tailoring my artist statements to suit the criteria of different show applications.
Julie Mars' current events, projects, & inspirations.