Writing Better Artist Bios

Writing Better Artist Bios

An artist bio can be one of the trickiest things to get right but, for most curators, designers, etc trying to learn about your work and what you do, it is the most important point of ingress into your body of work. An outstanding artist bio is built around a concise and meaningful thesis which addresses the critical points of 1) who you are, 2) what you are doing, 3) why you are doing it (in that order). Your thesis as an artist should revolve around the nexus of these three ideas, it is your reason for creating work, what motivates you, what lights your fire.


The heart of the thesis is you, the artist. It isn't your entire life story, or how you have spent your whole existence up to this point to discover your innate artistic brilliance (we'll get to that later). It is a name, a brief background, and the major pieces that define you. It can be heritage, culture, region, neighborhood, identity, or anything (within reason) that you feel is critical to your work as an artist.


What you are doing is the next piece of your thesis to consider. If your identity is the broad outline of you as an artist, then what you are doing is the color blocking. It fills in the gaps, explains how you are putting your skills to work, and gives concrete examples of what can be expected from you. In a hard sense it can be boiled down to style, medium(s), notable projects, grants, collaborators, mentors, and institutions that you are affiliated with. It is insight into your skills and background through the context of your work. This is the section where you get to really sell yourself to the reader and make the case that you are the right match.


The final piece of your thesis is the why. This where you can bring your reader in and make them feel that they know you in a more personal way. It is also the part where you can delineate between your Artist Statement and your Artist bio. Your artist statement doesn't need to include this last part, but an artist bio (for example what you would put on your website) should include it. This is the section where you can elaborate on what has shaped you as an artist. You can illuminate your personal struggles, goals, motivations, and anything else that might set you apart. A reader this far in is committed to understanding you. You are special so let them know all about it in this final section!


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