Ethics and an artist statments.

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by chrisofwlp, May 8, 2007.

  1. chrisofwlp

    chrisofwlp Member

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    After spend several agonizing hours writing my artist statment I have 25 first paragraphs and nothing else.

    Is it unethical to hire someone to write your artist statment? If yes, then should it be considered unethical to purchase precut matts and mounts? In both cases you are paying someone to prepare a more professional presentation then you are capable of.

    Im not a writer and dont hold myself out as one. Yet this one slip of paper can make or break your gallery submission/art school app/grant proposal.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    I think the ethical issue is simply solved by attributing the 'pro' writer the way athletes and celebrities do, i.e. "your name" with, or, as told to "their name". However, the whole point (if there is one) of an artist's statement is to hear an articulation of the artist's approach to, or philosophy of, or reason for creating, or the like which presupposes that the 'artist' has actually thought about and put into words his vision (as one would have to do to work with a co-author) . If one hasn't done that, then having someone else make up something that sounds the way such a statement 'ought' to sound, would be unethical because it wouldn't reflect the mind of the artist.
     
  3. snegron

    snegron Member

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    I don't see anything wrong with hiring someone to write it for you. Writing would be his/her area of expertise, not yours. Part of your responsibilty as a photographer is to offer the best possible product to your client. This includes presentation, which includes writing.
     
  4. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    No, Ansel Adams hired a man to "promote" him in a huge way and look at where he ended up. Or should I say that a man convinced Ansel Adams that he could promote him in a huge way?

    What is a publicist?
     
  5. dc1215

    dc1215 Member

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    As someone whos struggling with an artist statement right now, I find this really interesting.

    I think its in between. I would say having someone else totally write your statement is unethical. But on the other hand theres not that much of a difference between that, and attempting to write it yourself and having someone revise it for you. Its a bit of a thin line as to where it becomes unethical, but I know if I read a statement for an artist I liked that wasn't written by him or her, I wouldn't be happy.

    The matt analogy is a little different because those are just aesthetic concerns, your artist statement is more the ideas and defining you as an artist. Good luck.

    -Dan
     
  6. Matthew Gorringe

    Matthew Gorringe Member

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    All professional writers that I know of use editors and often these editors end up being at least as important to the finished product as the author.

    Why don't you have a bash at finishing the statement and then give it to someone to "edit". As long as the ideas are yours the way you express them shouldn't be an ethical concern.
     
  7. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I will agree with Mattg.

    The unethical bit would be to lie by omission when someone compliments you on how well you wrote your statement.

    Vaughn

    PS...after writing such statements for 25+ years it is fun to re-read them and see where my head has been. Some are a little embarrassing, some spot on, some surprise me. Then there was the one with the Haiku that I accidently added an extra word to -- and never knew it until years later!
     
  8. Videbaek

    Videbaek Member

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    Get a pro, it's not wrong it's smart

     
  9. chrisofwlp

    chrisofwlp Member

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    Thank you, all of you have given me quite a bit to think about. I do know several very good writers and im sure I could hire one of them to help me out.

    Thank you all.
     
  10. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Either you write it or someone else writes it. The only way it would be truly yours is if you write it or someone else just corrects the spelling. If they change anything in it then it is their Artists Statement not yours. You must write your own statement. If you can't write it then maybe you are not ready to write an Artists Statement and you should get a notebook and make notes on your ideas until you are clear about what your intent is.

    “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o'clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously.”

    Charles Dickens

    Write it yourself and be the hero of your own life.
     
  11. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Why an artist's statement anyway?
    Over here generations of artists were creative without it.
     
  12. catem

    catem Member

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    I think I agree with Curt. If it was me I would be happy to ask someone to look at a draft and make suggestions, but not for them to re-write it, or write it from scratch.

    I know that youngsters applying to Uni are hiring people to write their personal statements. Probably people do it when they go for jobs.

    I have to think - if everyone is hiring someone to write these statements - I'm not sure what is the point.

    The very act of trying to get it right can clarify your own ideas, as can talking with other people. I would say thrash ideas out, by all means, let someone suggest an edit, but let the words be your own.

    I don't think they have to be long - just to sum up your approach and what you're trying to do. I can't help thinking if you were to hire a professional writer you'd run the risk of ending up with something that looked, more than anything else, like it had been written by a pro, and not by you. But you'd feel bound to use it because it sounded good and you'd paid for it - but if it's significantly unlike you when people meet you in person, they will know. You have to be able to articulate your ideas - writing them down is a good start.
     
  13. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Why would it matter who wrote it? When you do your own writing - it's a matter of selecting from among a variety of possibilities - and thus so it is with your choosing (editing) someone else's writing. If you edit it enough times - it will be truly yours anyhow. As to where the tipping point is.. who knows?

    I think Cate and Curt have a point, definitely - but I also think you shouldn't underestimate the ability of someone else examining your work through fresh eyes.... a little back and forth might be the best balance - just to get you going somewhere.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 9, 2007
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  15. AgX

    AgX Member

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    I expect purity.

    And thus the artist himself. And being faced with a sculpturer or photographer I don’t expect a writer. (these drawers…)
    If you feel insecure about it, leave it. See my post above.
     
  16. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    ahhhh... die Deutschen... :smile:
     
  17. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Sparky, I guess this trend will come over here. Or has come already. Don't know. The art world is becoming very international even for young artist and a main kind of approach to/dealing with an artist is going to be established.

    Just ran into old Peter Paul Rubens in Antwerp. An international guy, you know. Had it about this statement thing. He laughed.
     
  18. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Though, he has got a somewhat other view on purity....
     
  19. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Artist statements are a fact of life for professionals today - there is very little that can be done about it!

    As to who writes them - the important thing is that the statement is truthful about the work and gives the impression that the artist has something to say and is confident about saying it (in certain cases, sadly, it is also necessary to write in "artspeak"). Who actually writes it is completely irrelevant.

    Regards,

    David
     
  20. catem

    catem Member

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    Not to everybody - I have a friend who is a College lecturer who says his heart sinks when he sees an application from a student where the statement is obviously written by someone else (it's happening more and more).

    If you're going for showing your work in a gallery or something similar, that might be a bit different. I would have thought it would depend on the attitude of the gallery owner. As with everything, depends on your 'market'.
     
  21. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    It does of course matter if the purpose of the statement is to prove that its subject can write or express him/herself verbally. As you say, this will vary from case to case.

    Regards,

    David
     
  22. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Good point David. Expressing oneself through writing is an important skill, that everyone should have. It could also be that an artists statement written by someone other than the artist can't truely express the artists motivation behnd his work. That could be the key reason; to see if there is more to what the artist does than simply snapping the shutter.
     
  23. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Someone else writing it makes for better reading ...

    Regards, Art.
     
  24. AgX

    AgX Member

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    It is that very photograph that should make me realize that there was more behind it than releasing the shutter by accident.
    Yes, sometimes the photographer's story evokes a different impression. But that would be another story.
    Am I too puritan?
     
  25. AgX

    AgX Member

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    I’m trying to get an international artists in residence project off the ground and am around artists’ studios weekly, which of course does not make me an expert nor less naïve… And I sometimes have hard times with curators, art scholars and gallery owners.
    But I get the impression that the longer the more artists deliver a booklet explaining what they are doing. To me the pure work is decisive. This won’t stop me from asking the artist or reading those texts. But this all will deliver another story. Something second stage. And what about seeing some works of art just as something mysterious destined to stay unexplained?
    If a non-writing artist wants to express himself literally then he should do so. And I am free to read that. I might even see this as an integral part of his work (thus still pure, I can put several labels on a drawer), or just as an explaining add-on.
    Independent on how one approaches a work of art, if someone does not feel at ease expressing or explaining himself in writing, don’t force him.
     
  26. Pete H

    Pete H Member

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    So what is the point of an artist's statement?

    When I am recruiting people (in geophysics, nothing to do with photography), I look at their applications for factual evidence of their abilities. A so-called personal statement is so much hot air otherwise. "I spent 6 months doing voluntary service work in Somalia" is a much stronger statement of personal values than "I want to help the needy".

    Applying the same logic to an artist's statement, it seems to me that either the artist's work reflects his personal values clearly, in which case the statement is redundant, or it fails to and then the statement is also so much hot air.

    So I'm with AgX - a coherent body of work demonstrates that the artist was not just snapping the shutter by accident.

    cheers
    Pete