Writing Artwork Descriptions

Writing Artwork Descriptions That Sell More Artwork
by Dave Geada

In my article entitled “The Perfect Artwork Page”, I discussed the importance of writing descriptions of your artwork in the third person on your website. It not only helps with SEO, but can lend your website an air of authority that you just can’t achieve when writing about yourself in the first person. Writing about yourself in this way can be challenging, and when my article was first published I’ve received a number of requests for help on how to master this writing style. In this article we’ll tackle this subject with an approach that should turn you into a pro in no time.

There are two key strategies that you can use to write powerful, engaging copy about your art in the third person. Each relies on approaching your artwork description as if you were a reporter interviewing yourself about your artwork:

  • The Rewrite Approach. In this approach, you write about yourself in the first person like you would normally do, and then you rewrite your artwork description to make it sound like a reporter interviewed you about your artwork.

  • The Interview Approach. In this approach, you write about your artwork from the get-go as if you were a reporter who was interviewing you about your artwork.

When you first start out, I recommend that you use the Rewrite Approach as it’s a little bit easier. As you get more practice, I would suggest that you try the Interview Approach as it will reduce the amount of time it will take you to write you artwork descriptions.

Regardless of which approach you take, there are three key questions that you need to make sure that you answer about your artwork. Think of these as interview questions that a reporter would ask you to get to a deeper understanding of you and your artwork:

  • Where did you get the inspiration for this piece? Inspiration can come from a variety of sources, from unique experiences to everyday occurrences. Where did yours come from?

  • How were you pushing your boundaries as an artist? Each of your artworks represents a step in your journey as an artist. Share how you were trying to grow in your craft when creating this piece.

  • How does this artwork make you feel? If you expect collectors to emotionally connect with your artwork (and you should, it’s one of the keys to selling art), one powerful way of doing that is by sharing how this artwork makes you feel.

As you answer each of these questions make sure that you provide as much detail as possible to get your story across. For example, don’t just say that you were inspired by this particular scenery everyday on your commute to your studio. Explain, for example, how the slant of light not only altered your perspective on color, but gave you an insight on the how the interplay of light and shadow can affect our perceptions of colors and edges in surprisingly wonderful ways to achieve remarkable effects.

Finally I’d like to address a question that came up pretty frequently in my conversations around writing in the third person. Namely, how can you write in the third person while still connecting to your audience? The best way to accomplish this is to do what any good reporter does, which is to quote your subject. So feel free to intersperse your artwork description with a quote where you are writing in the first person. Use this approach sparingly and for maximum effect to punctuate a point or to highlight an emotion that you are trying to convey.

So putting this all together, we end up with the following structure for your artwork description:

  • Paragraph about your inspiration

  • Optional artist quote

  • Paragraph about how you were pushing boundaries

  • Optional artist quote

  • Paragraph about how your artwork makes you feel

  • Optional artist quote

By the way, the questions that I am suggesting that you ask yourself as part of this process are suggestions designed to help you sell your artwork. You may not feel comfortable sharing some of this information, or you may prefer to address other aspects of your artwork and your creative process. That’s perfectly all right. What’s important is that you share a compelling story about your artwork and that you follow the process that I’ve outlined:

  • Write as if you were a reporter interviewing you about your artwork.

  • Prepare a list of questions that you want to answer ahead of time.

  • And follow the structure that I’ve described, namely interspersing paragraphs written in the third person with quotes written in the first person.

If you follow this formula, I think you’ll find that you’ll create engaging content that helps collectors find your artwork and also convinces them to buy your art.


This is awesome Leah! Thank you for sharing!

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He makes a lot of great points about writing engaging content. The name of the game is making a real and personal connection between ME and YOU. That’s why I just don’t agree with advising artists to write about themselves in third person. The result is probably going to be a whole lot of bloodless and stultifying prose that sounds like it was written by yet another curator drone.

I think real authority comes from authenticity and passion, not from talking about ourselves in the third person. I know I would sound like even more of a pompous fool if I talked about myself that way, so I’ll keep trying to communicate my enthusiasm in the first person.


Thanks Jeff, I appreciate the feedback. I’ve read a few contradicting articles on how to write artist statements. I’ve switched back and forth between writing them in 1st person and 3rd person. I’d love to hear if anyone has any more resources on this topic.

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I’d be very interested in seeing those resources too - both those geared towards helping artists specifically write better, and those geared to helping anybody write better.

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