Common Artist Biography Mistakes 

As part of Fusion Art’s competition entry package, artists are required to provide the gallery with an Artist Biography and/or an Artist Statement. The top winning artists in each category have their biographies and/or artist statements highlighted on the website along with their art.

During a typical year, we will review more than 7,500+ biographies. We have read great biographies but also terrible biographies, with most falling somewhere in between. 

In an effort to help artists improve their biographies and overall presentation of their portfolios, this article will highlight common artist biography mistakes. Maybe you will see yourself in some of these examples and be able to correct or improve your existing biography. 

Writing the Biography in the First Person

Many artists write their biography in the first person i.e.:  “I did this…”; “I was influenced by…”; I intended to…” – Stop!  Your biography should sound like it was written by someone else, about you.  “She did this…”; “He was influenced by…”, She intended to…”.  This is the same when creating a press release.  It sounds more professional when composed in the third person.

Not Telling a Story

Tell the reader of your biography a story about you, as an artist.  From the beginning of your interest in art, until now, at this point. 

Included in a well-written artist biography should be, at least, the following:

1. Anyone or anything that has influenced the artist’s artworks. 

2. Any education or training in the field of art. 

3. Any related experience in the field of art. 

4. A short description of what the artist would like to achieve with their art.

Writing an Artist Statement Instead

Many times an artist will substitute an artist statement for their artist biography.  Or midway through their biography it will suddenly switch to an artist’s statement.  There is obvious reason for this, as most people find it easy to talk and write about their art, rather than talk or write about themselves.  For many artists, writing, in general is difficult enough.  But to write about themselves is twice as difficult. 

Providing a CV (Curriculum Vitae) Instead

A CV is a numerical resume of an artist’s experience within the art field.  A CV provides the reader a list of the artist’s education, experience, solo and group exhibitions, teaching experience, texts and awards etc.  This is not a biography; it is a resume.  This is not what someone wants from you when you are asked to provide them with an artist’s biography.

Other Common Errors

1. Writing a biography that is too short or does not contain enough details about the artist.

2. Having a biography that is too long. In today’s fast paced world, a reader will not spend a lot of time reading an artist’s biography.  Make the biography concise and easy to read.

3. A biography that contains spelling errors.  At least “spell check it” before you send it in or have it as part of your artist’s portfolio.

4. There is no excuse for a biography having poor sentence structure and poor grammar. Get someone to edit for you.   

5. Forgetting to provide contact information. Name, email address and a website should all be included.

6. If you do not have a lot of experience in the art field, no problem. Go back and tell that story about yourself and how you have gotten to this point of calling yourself an artist.

Experience, no matter how little or how much may be important in some areas of the arts, but for the purposes of this article post (for artists who want to create, show and sell their art) it is overstated and overrated. 

There is a whole generation of artists who started out wanting to be in the arts but life came along an interrupted their dreams.  They may have multiple year, or even decades, gaps in their biography.  Embrace that gap and tell us how your artistic dream was derailed, and not forgotten.  Be open and be honest as this is also part of your artistic journey.

As artists, we all had to start somewhere in our artistic quest.  Some artists are just starting their trip.  Other artists may have very little experience in the arts, whereas, some artists may have a lot of education or experience in the art field. 

As in life, we all come from different places and have different paths to take and in arts, it is no different than in the real world. So embrace your unique journey and share it.

Coming in the next few weeks, we will be posting additional articles with further guidance and suggestions for writing an effective artist biography and/or artist statement as this element of artists’ portfolios is just as important as their art.


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