How to Write an Artist Bio That People Want to Read

How to write an artists bio header image. Bio printout with coffee mug and pencils

I get a good reaction from my artist bio so I thought I’d analyze why it works. I compared my efforts to others and realized I wrote mine in a slightly different way to most. I wrote mine like a story. This is how I did it.

A self-written artist bio should be short and sweet, 150 words or less is ideal. It should be written in the first person and the story told as a journey. It should start with a dream or a mission, highlight the artist’s struggle, and finally end with success. The style should be informal. It must be written in plain simple English, without jargon, artspeak, and hyperbole. The intention must be to connect emotionally with the reader.

That’s the summary and this post will guide you further. I’ll show you how to write an artist bio that people actually want to read.

Let’s get started.

Why Write An Artist Bio?

The idea is to connect with your reader and make a good first impression. Your goal is to intrigue your reader. It should resonate and inspire your audience and with the seeds sown, your reader will feel compelled to explore further.

Your bio is a snapshot of better things to some.

Your artist biography is like the trailer to a movie, an advert that promises everything, and because it serves such an important role you should make an extra effort to get it right.

Where Should You Display Your Artist Bio?

Your website should have two places where your bio features. The obvious ‘About Me’ page and at the top of your homepage side-bar.

The homepage should have a photo of you with a few lines beneath describing what you do and a call to action. That might be signing up to an email list and/or a link to the main artist’s bio page.

Introduce yourself by name just as you would to someone in real life. Write in the first person. This snippet is from you to the reader. You are trying to connect.

Put your bio on all your social media accounts and print out your bio page to display it along side your artwork in art fairs.

Wherever your art appears it’s good practice to add an artist bio. Think of how much more interesting it is to learn about the artist, even on the back of a greetings card.

How to Construct an Artist Biography Step by Step

Describe the Dream

It all starts with a dream. A fantasy of how great life could be. It might be something that triggered a love in childhood, a situation you wanted to get out of, or an inspirational person you wanted to emulate.

Think about what motivated you to start your journey. This is your vision that kick-started everything. Call it your mission if you like, it doesn’t really matter, it all amounts to the same thing. This is the moment, or longing, that set you on your chosen path.

Think of Dorothy following the yellow brick road. That’s your storyline!

Don’t worry that in reality you were floundering and had no idea what you were doing. This is your journey in hindsight. No one cares for the naked ‘truth’, who wants to hear about the boring bits? This is a dream and you are selling the romance.

Sit down and write about the key moments in you life, that when you look back, were pivotal. Think about why you decided to be an artist. Jot all your thoughts down. Some will be more salient than others.

Edit, edit, edit. Say the most with the least amount of words. Remember this is not a real biography. No one wants to know the detail. Think about asking someone about their holiday. A few words and a photo are enough right?

Begin your Journey

Now describe your early days. What were the first steps on your journey? What did you do to try and make your dreams a reality? Who did you meet, where did you go?

This might be your first days in college or the day after you graduated and faced the outside world. In my case it was leaving a factory and teaching myself to paint. It may not be interesting to you but it sure is to someone else. Keep it short and don’t ramble.

This is the moment where it all began. Maybe you were fired up to succeed or just plain naive and didn’t know any better. This kind of backstory is intriguing to other people. And remember, you are writing about yourself in the first person.

At this stage, it’s important to state that you are writing in an informal style. This is a summary of your experience, it’s not an essay, it’s not academic, and it’s not a C.V. Your narrative tone should be engaging and even witty. Leave the thesaurus alone and edit out any jargon.

Overcoming the Obstacles

No one wants to hear a good story. They want a happy ending but only after the struggle. These are your wilderness years.

Describe the hurdles you faced. Brainstorm. Where did things go wrong? This is where the drama occurs in your story. What happened at this point, were the Gods against you?

  • Did you do something crazy or foolish?
  • Did you seek advice that backfired?
  • Maybe you had a disastrous show,
  • Experienced a life event,
  • Found yourself broke.

Make a list of setbacks, wrong turns, and dead-ends and select the juiciest stories to keep it entertaining.

Note that word ‘entertaining’. Don’t wallow in self-pity and don’t brag about successes. Tread a careful line between the two. You are writing directly to the reader and a degree of humility is a must. If you’re not sure if you’ve found the right tone, get someone to proofread the bio before you publish.

The Turning Point and Journeys End

Round off your biography with your final throw of the dice. This is your epiphany or the point where you found success. What finally clicked? Did you have a stroke of luck? Maybe you took a gamble and it paid off.

This is where you can reveal that your dream came true. At last, after all the sweat and tears you finally made it. Now you can reveal what life is like now.

Further Reading: The 7 Basic Plots by Christopher Booker

Nothing was handed to you on a plate. This is your self-made triumph and it’s been a transformative journey. This is your inspirational outcome that seduces your buyer into wanting to be apart of this story.

I suggest you write out your bio as a long draft and edit it brutally. Don’t worry about leaving things out. This is only a summery of yourself. At has to read well.

Think of your bio as an anecdote, the story is true but over the years you have refined the tale and now it’s short and snappy with a well-timed punchline. Try to do that with your bio.

All you have to do is edit all this down into 150 words-ish

What to Add to Your Artist Bio Page

You need a good picture of yourself. There is no need to get a professional portrait. It could be you in your studio or you on location somewhere. As long as your image presents you as a cheerful, approachable, and unpretentious person.

Write your name clearly and consider a tagline or mini statement beneath. This will indicate what you are trying to achieve and what people can expect from you and your site.

Have a call to action. This can be a button link to a sign up form, or digital product.

Showcase your more popular work and link them to your e-commerce store. And finally, add another chance to sign up for your email list.

You may be wondering about all those shows and qualifications you could list. Well, to be honest, the reader might be impressed but they really don’t care enough to want any detail. That’s the kind of info that gets skimmed.

A passing mention is all that’s required, if anything at all. Just include teasers here and there.

I find that the people who read my bio while I’m trading at my stand will ask me questions because of my teasers. I state that I’m self-taught and colorblind because I know full well that my customers think it’s interesting. It invites a chat and that’s the whole point.

Conclusion

If you want people to read your bio it has to be short, entertaining, and intriguing. It should be more about emotions and less about facts. Write the narrative as a journey of discovery and you can’t go far wrong.

Only write in the third person if your art is being curated. If you are representing yourself, write in the first person.

Don’t bother mentioning where you were born, where you were educated, or your age. It’s not important. Only write an achievement that stands out or the number of years you’ve been trading.

Make sure there are no spelling mistakes or obvious grammatical errors. People will notice.

Your ‘About me’ page is the 2nd most important page after your homepage so it’s worth spending some time to get it right.


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