- Artworks titled Untitled. A title doesn’t have to be profound (even though that can be nice) it could just be a description, Blue Painting No. 5, for instance. Untitled suggests you can’t be bothered. A title lets someone talk about your work, write about your work, maybe even buy your work AND it helps you to find it in your archive (you are archiving your work aren’t you?) Plus you’re missing a trick… it could be a nice little hint to give the viewer an another way to access your meaning.
- Artworks that rely too heavily on supporting contextual information (artist statements, essays). Supporting text is not a crutch. Your artwork needs to be able to “speak” on its own on some level, it cannot rely on the artist statement or essay to explain it. If you are better at writing be a writer. If it can be written better, maybe it doesn’t need to be a visual artwork (writing is it’s own art!)
- Complete lack of artist statement. On the flip side, it’s good to have some kind of contextualising text. This could tip the scales for the viewer who is undecided about your work, or who just needs a gentle push in the direction you intended.
- Smug conceptual artworks. If you are too busy congratulating yourself on your own cleverness, and your work’s elite obscurity, then you are probably too pleased with yourself to notice that bewildered viewers don’t spend time with your work. Look, I’m not saying your work has to be for everyone (that’s a big ask!), but it should be for someone, and if that someone is just you, and your mate you explained it to (who is humouring you when they tell you they “get it”) then that’s not enough. You’re not misunderstood, you misunderstand.
- Excessively random or completely meaningless artworks. (See above)
- Artist statements co-authored by a thesaurus. If you have never used that big word before, your artist statement is not the place for it to make its debut in your vocabulary (because you are probably getting the nuance wrong: words have subtly different meanings, otherwise we wouldn’t need so many of them). If I had my way, your word ration would allow you one fancy word per sentence. If you absolutely have to break this rule because of the pure elegance of the words you’ve selected, then your fancy sentence must be followed by a sentence that unpacks it in simple words (art critics also take note).
*By “new artists” I mean artists with degrees who should know better and have almost certainly been taught better.