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Artist & Design Philosophy Statements

Artists and designers often need to communicate the purpose, philosophy, and inspiration of their visual work through the written or spoken word. Some artist statements are intended to accompany a gallery show or collection while others provide general insight into a creative’s design aesthetic and process. These statements are often used for promotional reasons, but they also provide insight into an artist’s body of work, sometimes offering a reflection on inspiration and philosophy. There are a number of reasons why artists or designers might need to write about their work and an artist statement can be a useful tool for accomplishing any number of the following goals:

  • self-analysis and reflection
  • promote one’s work
  • translate, explain, or enhance a concept
  • describe inspiration, process, or concept
  • represent a point-of-view, motivation, or philosophy

Artists and designers often write statements that provide admirers of their work greater insight into the collection/portfolio, the design process of the artist, or what inspires the artist. These statements can vary from one field to the next and can differ depending on the purpose of writing the statement. For instance, artists working in the applied arts might be more concerned with clients or customers when describing their work while fine artists might be more concerned with aesthetics. 

Some of these statements are about a page and others are as short as a paragraph. You have to decide what works best for you and for your readers. Either way, they need to be concise, yet meaningful.  

Statements for Competitions and Scholarships

Some Design and Art competitions require a statement. This statement may potentially share many characteristics of an artist or designers statement, but it's important to read the instructions carefully. For instance, the CFDA asks students to prepare a "press kit" kit essay that addresses the target customer and materials in addition to the design concept. Other competitions like the Geoffrey Beene Scholarship asks designers to consider their interpretation of Mr. Beene's aesthetic. Carefully review the guidelines to ensure that your statement meets the expectations outlined by the organizations running the competition. 

Starting your Statement

Here are some questions that can help you build your own design philosophy/artist statement:

  • What inspires you as a designer?
  • What drives your design process?
  • What's important to you as a designer?
  • What's the theme or story behind your collection/portfolio?
  • How does that theme or story influence how you designed this collection/portfolio?
  • As a designer, what point are you trying to express through your collection/portfolio?