‘Bio’ and ‘About’ Reflections

How to Write a Bio or About section Truthfully and Modestly?

Ex Libris or Bookplate drawn by Paula Kuitenbrouwer symbolizing a tree of knowledge deeply rooted in ancestral wisdom. (Ink and Graphite)

Do you feel uncomfortable with the social media ‘Bio’ or ‘About’ section? Do you feel hesitant when a social media platform encourages you ‘…to tell something about yourself’? Is it because seldomly you are given enough space for introducing yourself thoroughly and adding a sense of modesty to your self-promotion too? Those exasperating collapsing menus offering prelisted choices: you are an artist or a designer or illustrator! They leave you no room for ifs, ands, or buts.

It is not easy to strike the right tone in a world in which all and sundry proclaim to be writers, artists, cooks and models. All that ego aggrandizing, all that fake it till you make it. So, when is somebody an artist? When one is talented, or selling or awarded? I see artists on Instagram having thousands of followers but when you click to their shops, not many have bought their art. But in case somebody is selling well, does that make them an artist even when they have no significant talent? And vice versa, perhaps an extremely talented person has no passion to pursue a career in the arts does that person make less of an artist? It is a confusing world in which we do not take something at face value anymore. This huge herd yelling about their talents and achievements only befuddles us and fills us with captious questions. ‘Is he really that talented? Did she copy art?’

Could this overheated market cool down a little when we would describe ourselves in a calm fashion? I do not suggest to chronicle oneself as a coffee lover because that has lost its light touch and sounds more like escapism. Let us at least attempt to capture oneself modestly and truly.

Let me shepherd you through some steps

An unpretentious Bio can be achieved by comparing and contrasting oneself to the masters of the arts. Do some self inquiry; ‘I am very inspired by artwork of ….’ Or ‘If I ever reach the level of…, I would be utterly delighted’, or ‘I aim to draw like …’ or ‘I draw in the style of the famous and I hope one day my work will reach the technical level of…’.

Who are your role models? Which artwork do you admire and why? Because of technical skills? Because of its emotional intensity? How feverish is your passion to pursue art-making compared to that of, for instance, Camille Claudel? What is your relation to the world of art? What do you aspire; which artist is your (long dead) master? Where do you like to be ten years from now?

This examination could be done regularly or annually. The answers will change because you, who is busying yourself with art, will change. The fact that your Bio or About will need some tweaks here and there so now and then testifies of your explorations of the world of art and bears witness to your growing skills.

Three generations of turtles sitting on each other’s back symbolizing that successes of one generation are the foundation for the successes of the next generation and so on. Watercolor painting by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Have no anxieties; to put yourself side by side with the Great Masters will not dwarf you into oblivion, but will put your ego into perspective. It will not be intimidating because you allude to inspiration, to being a self-proclaimed apprentice. Describing your identity in respectful relation to those who contributed to the history of art is -to me- a good method for writing a modest but impressive ‘About’ section.

We are all standing on the shoulders of giants. We owe them to be remembered. When we feel inspired by them, when we learn from them, we honour them by referring to their achievements.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

P.S. It won’t do harm referring to female artists. So many have been marginalized or written out of history. Should you feel inspired by female artists, say so, ignore that their names are probably more obscure than Rembrandt, Vermeer or Picasso.

P.S. I received a question how my Instagram profile looks like. Squeezing ‘myself’ into a ridiculously small letter-count, I currently have: I aim to paint as beautifully as Dutch Golden age painters, especially as Rachel Ruysch, and I dream of drawing as skillfully as 17-century Dutch artists. I used beautifully to define my artistic aspirations (adding beauty to the world). I referred to Rachel Ruysch because she had many children and nevertheless painted till she was very old. And I used the verb ‘dream‘ to express my aspirations. This bio is truthful, will most likely undergo some changes in the future, but narrates of the driving forces behind my creativity. That said, I wish I could have squeezed in my love for Asian art too.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

At Etsy

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