Before I taught Kate Bradley how to sell her art, without feeling like a sell-out, she was trying desperately to sell her art through art galleries. Galleries insist that you write an artist statement. Here was Kate’s artist statement.
My paintings combine the real and the abstract; flat planes of color juxtaposed with modeled, three-dimensional forms draw on different styles of art and create a surface that seems to undulate. The excitement comes from discovering interesting color combinations and pushing the form so that it becomes more expressive and less representational. I love to combine patterns, textures, thin lines and modeled forms. Objects that are quiet and seemingly mundane are often my subjects. I look for something unique and try to find a way to present it so that it looses its identity and its associations. In this way, it expresses more than what it is. It becomes a mystery, an enigma, a question mark for the viewer to impose his meaning upon, and therein lies the beauty, both in life and in art. It is ultimately, an elevation.
Without even looking at her art you can tell, this is just ridiculous. And by complying with the requirement to craft an artist statement that she didn’t really believe, she was selling-out. I asked her,
How did you feel when you were writing it?
I felt like ‘this is all bullshit’ but I have to do it so I can get into a gallery. It just all felt very fake.
- Now Kate knows who she is and what she stands for, she knows her Why.
- Because she knows her Why she has determined her What, her Mission, the one problem that she believes is really worth solving, that children need to feel unconditional love.
- She knows How she can help to solve that problem, through her particular process of creating children’s portraits, she creates value above and beyond her art.
- Kate knows Who has the problem worth solving, her target market.
You may or may not be able to relate to Kate or her art, it doesn’t matter. You are not her target market. Kate’s success is not dependent upon what other artists or critics think, only her patrons. Do you have an artist’s statement? I have yet to read one that doesn’t make me cringe. On the whole they are full of completely self-involved art speak. They do nothing to convey the value of the art and how it will serve a target market. Artist statements are as painful to read as they are to write. What do you think Kate’s patrons would respond to? The dreadful statement above or this video. Toss your artist statement and determine your Why, What, How, and Who.