One of the hardest things for emerging artists to understand is that artists statements and bios may need several versions. While we would have a general artist statement and bio for our web site and artist book, depending on who it is for or the requirements of the gallery or space we are dealing with you may need to have shorter versions of these for them. While I talked about the artist statement in an earlier post, I would like to take this time to talk about the artist bio.
Artist Bios should not be longer than a page in general, but often much shorter than that for most galleries needs. It has some of the same aspects of the artist statement in that it talks about what aspects of your life and the people that influence the art you are creating.
Most galleries will ask you to provide a 1-2 paragraph bio in which they can use to create a press release from. While we will give them the information that we want them to use, you will find more often than not that unless you are curating your own show, galleries tend to change the information some to fit their idea of the show and their gallery. It can be easy to get upset about this, but you will find over time that it is part of the art world that will not change. While you want to protect your idea of your work galleries want to protect themselves.
In general while we are talking about ourselves, artist bios are usually written in the third person. Focus for them should not be on your feelings and dreams, but a more historical aspect of where your art comes from, and what makes you tick.
While you can not always be prepared for everything it is best to have a short, medium and long version of the bio. The short version should highlight those aspects in your personal experience that really talks about the influence on your art.
When I wrote my own artist bio, I reflected on my time in the military, my service at the World Trade Center and my time living in Asia. All of these events in my life has the largest influence on my art.