Artist Statement vs Mission Statement (one more deviation from time management)

"Oh no!"

This past weekend I attended the SCBWI Western Washington regional conference.  For those who don’t know what that hard to pronounce collection of initials stands for, it’s the society of children’s book writers and illustrators.  (I like to pronounce it “SkibWee”)  As always, it was interesting, instructional, and inspiring.  I’ve now attended enough conferences to start to get to know some of the other illustrators and writers, and that alone is worth the price of admission. Meeting art directors, agents and editors is mighty swell too.

One of the presentations I attended was that of art director Anne Moore, of Candlewick Press.  She said something that stuck in my head through the weekend, partly because it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a few months now.  She spoke of one of the artists that works regularly with her, about his mission statement that guides his creative work.  Now, most artists I know have written artist statements.  For many people they are torture to write, and often to read, as well.   Over the last 10 years I’ve worked hard to make mine more accessible: less “art speak,”  more reflective of my personality, in addition to being an accurate description  of my process, philosophy and subject matter.  In an article I wrote for Art Calendar Magazine last year, I also talked about how the process of writing an artists’ statement can help you define your vision.

A mission statement is a little different.  An artist statement can be anywhere from a couple of paragraphs to a page or more.  A mission statement is usually one or two sentences that tells the reason you do what you do.  Your mission, in other words.  So, I’ve been doing some thinking about just what the heck is my mission?  Here are some of the thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head:

1. To create beauty

2. To tell a story

3. to keep the traditions of painting (with real paint, I’m talking about here) alive

4. to show complexity and details

5. to create rich, satisfying images.

This isn’t a mission statement yet, but I’m going through the process of thinking about why making art is important to me, and what I’ve got to contribute to the world.  I’ll be working on this for the next couple of weeks, and I’ll be sure to post it on my blog.

Next time, one more stab at time management!

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2 thoughts on “Artist Statement vs Mission Statement (one more deviation from time management)

  1. Interesting. Is the mission statement for grantmaking purposes, gallery programs, for guiding how you compose a work, or what?

    I kind of have a mission in mind, not so much a statement, for each play I write. As far as an overarching playwright’s statement not so much, apart from entertain the audience and learn something new about playwriting with each play I write (not sure how that last one will fit in with the trilogy I’m planning).

    But I guess it’s good for each creative artist to have a sense of what they’re working toward.

    • I’m thinking of the mission statement as an overall “big picture” reason for making art. I always do a specific artists statement when I am submitting to a gallery or for a grant or for a specific show. I suppose mission statement and vision statement are fairly similar, but both very short, where an artist statement is more in depth. Thanks for writing.

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