Writing Your Artist Story, Part 1

I received this email from Nashville-based artist Judy Klich and she asks a good question.


I just love your book and used it yesterday to write a Press Release.  It is very well written and I plan to tell all of my artists friends it is a must have.  I am curious why you did not include a chapter on writing bio’s and overall writing “your story” as an artist.  That seems to be the direction that I keep getting that many artists are missing – getting their story across.  I just wanted to share that with you and see if you have explored that subject?

Thank you for your time,

Judy Klich


Gift of Nine, Judy Kilch, judykilchart.com
Gift of Nine, Judy Klich

Judy took a business class for artists that emphasized “telling your story.” Since I did not take the class, I can’t address specifics, but Judy related to me that she feels uncertain about how to do the telling.

Is it important to tell your story? What exactly does that mean? I have a few opinions on this, and I’ll discuss it in 2 blog posts.

1.)  Sometimes the phrase “telling your story” is used instead of saying, “write your artist statement and bio.” Get clarity whenever you hear this. It’s currently a marketing catch phrase, apparently everything from tea to toothpaste needs to tell its story.

2.)  As I explain in Art-Write, the statement says: Meet my art. The bio says: Meet the artist. These are two separate pieces of writing, and both are necessary in your professional presentation. In my view, this is not quite the same thing as “telling your story.”

3.)  When you attempt to combine the story of your life with the story of your art, it often becomes too long and rambling for its purpose – such as a gallery show or a proposal. I am a fan of brevity, and so are most people who approach your art. A one-paragraph, colorful bio will serve you well for most purposes.

4.)  However, the ideal place to “tell your story” is on your own artist website, where you have the space and freedom to write expansively. Not every artist needs to do this. Tell a long story if you like to write. Tell your story if you’re ready to tell it.

5.)  In Part 2 of this post, I’ll go into more detail. Until then, I want to point out a beautiful example of an artist telling his story.

Meet Peter Kitchell. http://www.peterkitchell.com/about

In the “About” section of his website, he engages the reader with well-chosen words and photographs. Peter is in the mature phase of a prolific career. There is a heartfelt tone to his life/art story, a tone that can only be achieved after much reflection.

This speaks to my point – tell your story when you’re ready to tell it.


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