A biography is a condensed version of your CV, highlighting key dates and achievements in your career to date. This is all factual information and often is requested in addition to a statement (see below).
A biography should answer:
Below in the Resources section is a simple template for a short biography that is considered to be good practice. Particular galleries or organisations will use their own variations on this format but this is a good starting point.
A statement of intent is a concise piece of text that places your work in context: offering a view of what you make, how you make it and why you make it. It should contribute information that adds to a viewer’s overall understanding and engagement. A statement aims to inform the reader and present the basis for the work.
A statement should answer:
Statements are a valuable tool; they can help you cement the objectives and direction of your practice, enabling you to clearly represent your work. Your statement should be updated as your work develops and remain an accurate representation of your practice.
Before writing your statement, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you make?
- What influences or drives you?
- What medium do you work in?
- How do you make? Explain your particular process.
- What makes your work different/ unique?
- Why do you make what you do?
If you are unsure of your answers to these questions, sit down with a friend/peer or fellow maker and talk through what it is you want to communicate about your work. This can help you decide what you should write.
- 200 words is a guideline length; somewhere between 150-300 words is usually fine
- Statements can be written in either the first or third person depending on the intended use; on your website or as part of an application, first person is acceptable, although in general galleries prefer statements to be written in the third person
- Strive to express complex ideas in simple language, rather than simple ideas in complex language
- Within an application process, the panel members are experts in the area of craft but perhaps not specifically in your medium
- On a website or in a gallery, consider the text from the point of view of a non-expert gallery visitor
- Excessive personal pronouns can distract from the statement content, try to minimise your use of ‘I / my / me / mine / myself’
- Try to avoid repetition of words and phrases
- Use dynamic words that describe your activity - for example, investigate / respond / challenge / explore / process-led / interest
- Avoid emotional words or sentiments that cannot be quantified such as: like / love / passion / feel / excite / intuition
- Be confident in your practice and avoid phrasing such as ‘I am trying to' or 'I want to’ instead use active phrases such as: 'this work explores / represents’
10 common writing mistakes and how to avoid them:
- Poor planning: Ensure you assign sufficient time to each stage
- Failing to make an impression: A strong introduction and conclusion will grab the reader's attention
- Forgetting the reader: Take the reader into consideration – Is what you are writing easy to understand?
- Complex sentences: Sentences should be clear and straightforward
- Long words and elaborate phrases: Be clear, concise and stick to the point
- Abbreviations: Clarify and explain any abbreviations
- Being vague: Quantify statements wherever possible
- Poor layout and too much text: Text should be in a clear font and layout should be aesthetically balanced
- Typos, poor punctuation and grammatical errors: Use Spell Check and Grammar Check
- Carefully proof everything: Always ask a colleague or friend to read your document: Another set of eyes often spots something that you may have missed
Reviewing your statement:
Print it out and read it aloud. Note anything that does not sound right. Is it just one word or is the whole sentence confusing? What is it that you want to express? It is often better to rewrite a sentence from scratch instead of trying to fix what is there.
After making changes, print it out and read it aloud again.
Read biographies and statements by makers or artists that you respect, taking note of what they write about their work, how they phrase and contextualise the information and the way they choose to present themselves.
Below in the Next Step section, you can find further online information on writing statements.
- Biography Template Download