Creative Digest

Jo Atherton

Welcome to the March edition of the new Creative Digest. In this column, we consider a theme which will aim to provide insight into creative practice and mindset of the artist taken from the breadth of the web, including traditional websites, but also social networking groups, blogs, articles, apps and even online behaviours to inspire, delight and challenge you.

2015 has begun, and with it many opportunities are looming on the horizon. As an artist, the ways to exhibit and sell your work are wide ranging and can include residencies, art fairs, open studios, exhibitions, websites, galleries and even grants to support your projects. One necessary skill to apply to any of the above is an ability to write about your work.

Have you ever been daunted by an application process and missed out on what could have been a wonderful opportunity? Writing may come naturally to you, but for many artists used to expressing themselves via more visual means, it can be a challenge. The following resources offer practical advice including equipping you with the skills to create a ‘toolkit’ of essential documents, along with some more innovative pointers towards overcoming creative block. 

  • ArtQuest offers advice and useful tips on compiling a professional toolbox of written documents to help explain your work to the public in their article, what does it take to be a professional artist. ‘While professionalism in relation to arts practice has a lot to do with a positive manner and open approach, there are certain tools that can be used to help build or maintain a wider understanding of your work.’ The artist statement, biography, CV and even website are all useful ways of sharing your work with the outside world. Increasingly, all of the above are becoming a necessary component when making applications to galleries, events and funding bodies. This is a great starting point for updating your written work to convey your creative ideas.
  • state that ‘people need help buying art, so help them’. They suggest that there is no need to write about your artwork at all, however if you can make it easier for others to interpret and appreciate, it will help a great deal with sales. ‘You should make it easy for potential buyers to appreciate what you are doing. If you are not an already well known artist, then to instill confidence in potential buyers it is essential to effectively write about yourself and your work.’ The simple Artist Statement is a great starting point for this.
  • Morning Pages are a daily writing exercise advocated in the popular book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The idea involves filling three sides of paper with words, stream of consciousness-style, first thing every day with the hope that this activity allows you to free your mind of all those distractions and preoccupations which would otherwise get in the way of your creative practice as that as an artist or writer. Oliver Burkeman is a journalist for The Guardian and writes about his experience of trying this popular technique and the blog Better Writing Techniques lead you through the process.
  • Still stuck for inspiration? Try the following Artist Statement exercises from Molly Gordon. The Artist Statement forms a great starting point, not just for the practicalities of an application but also a means of self examination and questioning our own creative processes. What can seem like a daunting task for many in broken down into manageable questions and themes to start you thinking about how and why you do what you do. Try some of these exercises out and before you know it, you’ll be filling pages with insights into your creative world.