The Art of Self-Presentation

The Art of Self-Presentation

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, presenting yourself is the most difficult exercise you’ll have to do. Your first words will show your level of confidence, dictate the relationship, and open to you new opportunities. As an emerging artist, this exercise is even harder. Perhaps, you don’t have the legitimacy or you’re just starting out your journey. So, saying ‘I’m an artist’ without a degree or without references might seem intimidating, and that’s totally normal.

In this article, we will guide you in turning every encounter into an opportunity for growth through crafting a compelling artist statement, pitch, and portfolio.

Ready to start fruitful conversations?


Artist Statement

In art, your work can speak to your audience, but sometimes it needs to be clarified by words. An Artist Statement plays this role. It is a 100 - 200 word piece of writing that helps your audience better understand your artistic work. An artist statement differs from an artist biography. While an artist bio tells your personal story, detailing your background, academic studies, and achievements, an artist statement is more about your artistic work. It’s generally written in the first persona and could be pictured as your canvas on paper, revealing your techniques, philosophy, uniqueness, message, source of inspiration and artistic style.

Crafting a compelling artist statement is crucial to your journey as an artist. It’s a must for various opportunities like press releases, grant applications, exhibitions, fellowship applications and teaching position applications. It helps you clarify your state of thought, reflect on your artwork, and maybe brainstorm ideas for new creations. Most importantly, it helps you start new and enriching conversations with your target audience by stimulating their curiosity and interest in your artwork.

6 Key Elements of Your Artist Statement: 

  • Your value proposition: You’ll need to clarify the materials you use and how and why they make your art unique compared to other emerging artists.
  • Your themes: It’s very important to give your audience insights about the theme(s) you’re focusing on. This helps in positioning your artwork in time and space and connecting your art with your target audience. Moreover, it shows your critical thinking, knowledge, and state of thought, and thus it creates bonding between you and your target.
  • Your process: Explaining the methods behind your artwork is crucial. It shows you know what you’re doing whether you studied art at school or a self-taught artist.
  • Your coherence: Showing your reader that your artwork is coherent and follows a logical path, helps you create a cohesive body of work.
  • Your influences: Connecting your artwork to relevant theories, artists or schools of thought is important to highlight in your Artist Statement as it shows your knowledge, and helps you build your audience.
  • Your intentions: Finally, your artist statement should convey a message. It should clearly articulate the purpose and impact you want your artwork to achieve in the future.

Now, you should be able to craft your Artist Statement. Bear in mind it shouldn’t focus on you and your achievement. Those two belong to your CV and biography. In your Artist Statement, the focus is on your Art. Also, as you evolve and progress, your Artist Statement should evolve. So, make sure to update it occasionally (just like your CV and biography).

3 Tips to Impress:

  • Use the power of storytelling. Storytelling is very effective to engage and make your reader want to know more about you, your theme, style, and processes. Little by little, they will become your close circle of supporters and will help you open new doors.
  • Personalize your artist statement. Whether you’re applying for a grant, a job position, or a fellowship, the requirements might differ. So, what might be a great Artist Statement for one, could be seen as an average Artist Statement for others. Make sure to understand what they are looking for and personalize your statement to meet their expectations. 
  • Practice, practice, practice. Writing about yourself or your artwork is a challenging exercise. The more time and effort you put in, the better and more skilled you’ll become. Don’t hesitate to seek feedback from friends, professors, clients, and followers to progress faster.

In art, words can be powerful. But what’s more powerful is how we present them. Another important way to present yourself confidently as an artist is pitching. In this section, we’ll help you master the art and science behind pitching.



Pitching is a widely used term in the startup ecosystem. It highlights the art of selling an idea, a solution, a product, or self to someone. While it might sound simple, it’s often perceived as a challenging exercise. You need to know your audience, present your offer clearly, explain how you’re different, state your objectives, and prompt action — all within a brief timeframe, usually just a few seconds.

Your artist pitch is a very useful instrument that could help you seize opportunities during networking events and answer with impact the question ‘Tell me more about yourself’ during interviews.

Pitch Structure: 

  • Introduce Yourself: Start by sharing your name, background and key professional experiences that have shaped your artistic career.
  • Share Your Artist Statement: Detail your artistic identity, your main artistic medium, your sources of inspiration, your theme(e), and the core message of your work.
  • Learning and Growth: Pick a significant experience, discuss why it mattered, and the valuable lessons you gained from it.
  • Call-to-action: The most crucial part — clearly express what you want from your audience. Whether it’s discovering your art, making a purchase, connecting with influential people, or securing funding.

As Rasheeda Namuloso wisely said, ‘Half of a pitch is what you say, the other half is how you say it.’

4 Key Tips for a Killer Pitch: 

  • Have clarity and confidence. Speak with a clear, audible voice to display confidence and ensure your audience understands you easily. 
  • Use a seamless structure. While we’ve outlined a general pitch structure, you’re allowed to customize it based on your unique story and presentation style.
  • Have smooth transitions. Ensure your pitch flows smoothly by connecting its different sections seamlessly and keeping your audience engaged.
  • Use the power of storytelling. We’ve already talked about the power of storytelling in the Artist Statement, and it applies to pitching too. Weave narratives that resonate with your content to forge a deep connection with your audience.

Today, we communicate physically and digitally, making it easier to connect with people globally and get access to opportunities faster. For emerging artists aiming to showcase their work to a broader audience, a strong digital portfolio can be an asset.

If you’re wondering what to include in your portfolio and how to make the most of it, the next section is for you!




A portfolio is a must-have whether you’re pursuing job opportunities, volunteer work, or academics. It’s your chance to make that crucial first impression and give a glimpse of your personality, style, skills, strengths, and areas for improvement. For an emerging artist, a portfolio is more than just a snapshot of your work; it’s a powerful tool to showcase your artistry, themes, style, and inspirations. It’s also a valuable way to keep track of your process and the growth over time.

4 Essential Elements for Your Artist Portfolio:

  • Personal Introduction: Start with a brief personal statement, where you introduce yourself and what you do.
  • Artist Statement: Present your artistic philosophy, techniques, sources of inspiration and thematic focus.
  • Artwork Showcase: Highlight your best creations, with details about the artwork, technique, dimensions, and optionally a brief analysis of your artwork.
  • Contact Information: Provide a clear way for your audience to reach out, whether it’s for inquiries, purchases, or collaborations.

For the design of your portfolio, you should choose a theme that reflects your unique artistic style by designing a logo that aligns with the theme, choosing a color palette that resonates with your style, and organizing sections in a way that mirrors your perspective.

These design elements will create a memorable impact (wow effect) and set you apart from other artists. If you’re wondering how you’re going to do this, don’t worry. Building your portfolio has become easier than ever, thanks to technology.

Tools for Building Your Portfolio:

Free Options:

  • ideal for showcasing design and photography. It also lets you connect with artists worldwide and attract clients that might have been inaccessible.
  • a popular tool among designers for showcasing their work.
  • offers you multiple templates to get inspired or to be used to build one that suits your taste.

Subscription-based tools:

Alternatively, you can use social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn to create a simple and accessible portfolio. Check out “manzijackson” for reference.

Regardless of the method you choose, make sure your portfolio is easily discoverable and shareable. After all, you’re doing all of this to increase your visibility and notoriety and stand out within the community of emerging artists.

We hope this gives you the resources you need to present yourself with impact whenever the opportunity comes. Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below; we’d love to hear from you soon!

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