Creating a Connection | The Artist Biography

The process of selling art revolves around connections.

The first and most important connection you make with potential buyer is through your work. Ultimately, the depth of this connection will be the biggest factor in determining whether or not a piece will sell, but it is not the only factor.

For many potential buyers, feeling a connection to the artist, as well as the artwork, is key.

When you have the opportunity to sell your work in person, you can make these connections through conversation.

In situations where you can’t be present, including when you are showing your work in a gallery, an artist biography can do this job for you. Because creating a deep connection with potential buyers is part of making sales, it’s important to have an effective artist biography that tells personal information about you in a way that is interesting and readable.

Working as a writer for Xanadu Gallery, I’ve written a fair amount of artist biographies, and I’ve honed some techniques that make the process of writing a bio easier and more effective.

Getting Started

The hardest part of any writing project tends to be putting the first few words on the page. It’s easy to get stuck staring at a blank screen, especially when you are writing about yourself.

It can help to spend some time reflecting and planning before you start writing the bio. Think about what you want the bio to communicate to potential buyers about you and your work. Create an outline where you lay out the details you want to include and the order you want to include them in. The more work you do to prepare before you write your bio, the easier it will be to sit down and write it.

Structure

There are several options for structuring your artist biography, but it’s important to choose a structure that flows well and is easy to follow. In my experience, it’s best to go with something pretty chronological.

When I write an artist bio, I usually start with a short paragraph that introduces the artist. I start with some kind of hook that sets the mood for the rest of the bio, then give the artist’s name, medium, and a few words to describe their artwork.

After that, I start with with information about the artist’s birth, childhood, and education, and go on from there, giving the artist’s life in order until I come to the present.

It is possible to write a bio around themes from your life or jump around to different events instead of going chronologically, but it takes a lot of skill to write a bio like this that a reader can follow easily, so I recommend writing your bio chronologically unless you have a good reason to do otherwise and can make it make sense.

Keeping it Focused

The purpose of the bio is to help potential buyers get to know you, but they don’t need to know everything about you. Make sure that the details you give are interesting and focus on your path to becoming an artist.

Sometimes it can help to write your life story through a certain lense, using a theme that relates to your work to tie everything together. For example, if your work features horses, you can focus on your relationship with horses over your lifetime, or if you paint desert landscapes, you can center your bio around your love for the desert. You will still give pertinent details like where you were born, but focusing on a theme like this will allow you to select other details carefully to create a narrative that is exciting and connects to your work.

Getting Feedback

Once your bio is written, have a few family members or friends read it over and give you feedback. Having other people read the bio can help you determine if it is clear, easy to understand, and interesting.

It may be helpful to have the readers give their initial thoughts first then ask specific questions about parts of the bio you are unsure about.

Checking Grammar and Conventions

Having errors in your spelling and grammar can make the bio fall flat, even if the content is riveting. Take advantage of any spelling and grammar software you have, and also make sure to have someone with a knack for grammar proofread it for you.

When in Doubt, Hire a Writer

If the idea of writing your own artist biography is too overwhelming, you don’t feel you have the skill to write an effective bio, or you would rather spend your time on your art, it might be a good idea to find someone else to write it for you.

If you have a friend or relative who is a good writer, you can ask them to do it for you, or you can find a freelancer.

Additionally, Xanadu offers a bio writing service, and we would be happy to work with you to create a well-written bio with a professional layout, though the number of bios we can handle is limited. Click here if you’re interested in finding out more.

What do you think?

How important do you think it is to connect with potential buyers, and what do you do to help potential buyers feel connected to you and your work?

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StSBookSHave you always wondered what it takes to show your work in galleries? Is your work being seen by qualified collectors?

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About the Author: Mara Blackwood

Mara Blackwood is the Executive Editor of RedDotBlog

22 Comments

  1. Good article.

    Wow, you sure breastfeed your stable of artists…writing their bio for them! Well, no one helps me much, I have to do things myself.

    Being a photog I am a visual kinda guy. I just get glassy eyed with too much words, I like to see the pictures. As such, I made an illustrated bio. I also have a text version for those that don’t want to sift through it all.

    In the end a bio only goes so far…I like to see the art!

  2. Thanks for the article. I am going to get on re-writing my bio right away, your template, and the idea of “focusing on your path to becoming an artist”, definitely gives me the focus I needed.

    Christopher Roche

  3. Jason, this is SO true. The biggest sale I’ve made to date was to someone who met me at an art fair, then went home and read everything I’d written on my website, including my statement and the bio that I’d reworked until it said exactly what I wanted. Knowing me through what I’d written meant a lot to her, and it was the first time anyone told me they’d taken the time to find out about who I am and why I do what I do. She and her husband ended up purchasing 5 large pieces from me for their home in Prescott last year, and I know for certain it was because the connection she feels to me as an artist has allowed her to connect much more deeply to my work.

  4. Good idea for a good bio. I write a short bio and put it on the back of my paintings for my gallery. I print it with the name and number of the painting, why I painted it and the short note about me and my love of pastels. I put the info for the gallery and also my website for future reference. It looks nice and maybe gets to the customer that doesn’t know me or visits my website. I did it from Jason’s advice you can see it here on my blog:
    https://jocastilloartblog.blogspot.com/2016/06/identify-your-paintings-sketch-for-456.html

  5. This was excellent advice. I have followed it up and written my Bio and Artist’s Statement just as Jason suggested. Writing it down has helped me to clarify my own thoughts regarding the direction which I have taken with my art in the past and the future direction which I will take. I have also distributed them to a few of my artist friends and colleagues to get their reactions. They have all told me that in spite of not wishing to read them at first that they found the story written down to be very interesting. I have not yet used them as marketing aids but I am confident they will make a difference when I do so.

  6. It’s true ~ I never quite know what to say. I’ve printed out a couple of bios posted to the mentorship program for reference and love how they are designed to look a bit like magazine articles. Need to give this some thought. Thank you for this article.

  7. After rewriting my bio over the years I’ve found a straightforward narrative serves me and patrons well. The primary goal is to communicate.
    I’ve given my bio to friends and family before and asked them to literally edit it … take out what they don’t like and add what they think is important. They know me. I got some surprising feedback. I didn’t take all their suggestions but did include some.
    We all have a story to tell … but what makes yours different than others, why, and how did that lead to you pursuing art as a career?
    Excellent advice, Jason.

  8. Thank you, Jason, for pushing us to do things we did not think we could do. I have written a biography. Writing everything down has made me know the long journey of becoming an artist. Yes, the biography does work as a marketing tool.

  9. This is a very helpful article, particularly the sections about structure and focus. One if the issues that I have faced has been the issue of length. I kept my regular bio to two short paragraphs (ca. 250 words) that can fit on a half-sheet of paper in 12 point type. What is the typical or recommended length?

    1. It’s a good idea to have a short bio, but Jason also recommends having a longer version – at least 2-3 pages – that galleries can use when someone is interested in your work so they can form a more in-depth connection with you. Jason has found longer bios to be a very effective sales tool at Xanadu.

      1. Very helpful info. This is all good to know. I’m just beginning to become the aspiring artist that’s lived in me since forever, and I’m surprised at how shy I am when it comes to getting my art and myself out there. I’m looking forward learning and growing. Thankful for Jason and his team for sites like this.

  10. Once again a very helpful blog. Acting on your earlier advice to be consistent I have evolved a series of colorful linocut prints in a figurative style which is different to my usual landscape paintings. It helps me to have the liberty of varying my subject matter without losing the benefit of consistency.

  11. Thank you for all your good advice. I agree with many of the artists who commented here “I’d rather be painting”. However, maintaining an up to date artist biography, artist statement and resume is all part of the business of art.

  12. Mara,
    I’ve learned more from Jason than from all of the courses I took in college and courses after graduation. Jason should be teaching in a university. He already has a syllabus, his books and all of the Red Dot Blogs. I wish that I had had the opportunity to learn in college what I’ve learned from Jason in the last couple of years!

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