I dislike writing about myself. And I'm not very skilled at it. I prefer to write about anybody, or anything else. But it has to be done. It's a key part of letting people know who I am and what I do. I delegate it but somehow it still always ends up on my desk. Soloist problem!
One of the things that holds us back from writing, especially about ourselves, is finding the words. If you are a visual artist then you might not feel comfortable handling slippery words anyway. They are not your preferred medium. Even so, there are also many writers who struggle on promotional tours when asked to talk about themselves.
In these on the spot situations, we have a tendency to lapse into cliché and end up sounding like a git. Speaking for myself here but pretty sure I am not alone.
There are painters who describe their work as colourful. Jewellers who go so far as beautiful. Potters who let us know their bowls are - round. Okay so I am being a bit harsh here, especially toward potters. But you see where I am going.
Your work is unique. Your work is utterly different from anyone else's. And there are times when you need to point this out and express what's different in words. Maybe it's copy for your website or to invite people to your exhibition, or performance. But how?
Well, you will have to think like a poet.
This doesn't mean rhyming, so calm down.
It means loving words as jewels that can adorn and embellish your appearance.
It means doing some work now, before the day when a curator emails you and needs 350 words on the meaning and ethos behind your creations by 4pm.
(And that will happen.)
It means filling a metaphorical treasure chest of these word gems. Store them against the day when you will have to write something, and add to them regularly.
Then you will not be sitting looking at a blank page at 3.30pm with a pain in your gut, willing witty words to leap onto the screen via some kind of miracle. Instead you can calmly open the lid of your store, survey your sparkling hoard, select the shiniest precious stone that suits the purpose, and you are away!
And like your favourite necklaces and rings, they can be worn again and again on many different occasions.
Here is a little word ladder to help guide your selection for your collection.
You want words that are:
S specific not general
General The colours I use are bright.
Specific The colours I use are unexpected.
P personal not generalised
Generalised People say my work is amazing.
Personal People say my work intrigues them.
A attracting not repelling
repelling My latest book is a profound melancholic elegy.
attracting My latest book examines grief and joy poetically.
R relatable, relevant, risky
general When you purchase one of my etchings you will be the proud owner of a limited edition artwork.
risky When you purchase one of my etchings you will never want for something to discuss with your guests.
K reflects knowledge of your work (when selecting quotations to use from previous clients and purchasers)
ordinary This bangle was much heavier than a similar one from the local jewellers.
extraordinary This bangle was handcrafted with care as the maker talked to me about what I wanted and used it in the design.
L lighthearted ( doesn't have to be funny but definitely not too serious)
heavy My work reflects the inner tangental turmoil of the struggling artist.
light I was struggling, so I put that feeling into my art and now I feel a whole lot lighter. The sculpture, though, is very weighty indeed.
draining I started my career by studying glass making at Wurrundjeri University in 1998.
energising All the most revered glass artists in Australia were working and teaching at Wurrundjeri University when I began my course.
Of course every word does not have to conform to all these. And you may not agree with my examples. But think about how eloquent you can be in a few words when you choose the glittering ones.
Be a gatherer of sparkling words. Start today!