What Is Ghostwriting for Artists?

What is ghostwriting, how does it work, and when might you hire someone to write about your artwork?
View of a glass cup of colored pencils seen from above.

Do you ever get the feeling that your artwork should stand on its own and doesn’t need any text to accompany it? Or maybe you sit down to write about your artwork and you struggle with such bad writer’s block that you just give up? Writing isn’t easy for anyone, let alone artists. You should be left alone to develop the ideas in your artwork—and not all artists are capable of translating that into words on a page.

Luckily, you can get someone to help you write about your artwork for various outlets: applications, websites, statements, and wiki pages. 

In this post, I’ll explain what ghostwriting for artists is, how it works, and when you might use a ghostwriter in your process.

What Is Ghostwriting?

Ghostwriting simply means that someone else writes a text for you. If you don’t have time to write, you experience severe writer’s block, or you have problems putting your ideas into words, ghostwriting might be for you.

Ghostwriting differs slightly from grant writing, which is a highly specialized type of writing used to obtain grant money for individuals and nonprofits. Grant writers have knowledge of the funding landscape and how to write persuasively to get you funds to make your artwork.

Ghostwriting, on the other hand, is used to help you express your ideas and concepts in a way that all audiences can understand. It’s often used for marketing purposes or as part of an application package.

How Does Ghostwriting Work?

The ghostwriting process has a few stages:

  1. Determine what kind of text you want written for you and about how long you’d like it to be. Consider where you’d like to use your text and if you can reuse it for various outlets or if you need several different kinds of text written.
  2. Choose a writer who has experience and knowledge about the kind of work you make. Perhaps you already know someone who’s a great writer or get recommendations from friends. Flatpage offers ghostwriting for artists and you can also check out our Art Writers for Hire list.
  3. Talk to the writer about your needs and present your work to them in your own words. If you’re going to use the text for application purposes, it might be helpful to have the writer emulate your own voice, whereas for marketing purposes you might want a voice that’s quite different. Make sure that you discuss your expectations, including price, the scope of the project, deadlines, and any other desires you might have for the text.
  4. The writer will draft your copy. After the text is written, you should expect to be able to provide some feedback to the writer so that they can make changes; the number of revisions should be discussed with the writer ahead of time.
  5. You’re ready to go! Once your writer is finished and you’ve paid them for their skills, you’re free to use your text however you want—if it’s for your personal use, you can change it however you want, or you can have the writer upload it to a site like Wikipedia for you (more on that below).

What Kinds of Texts Can Someone Else Write for Me?

Some of the common types of texts that you might get ghostwritten include:

Artists’ Statements: A good artist’s statement is an essential part of any artist’s portfolio. It’s a professional document that shouldn’t be rushed, just like your CV. Many artists struggle to express their artwork in 300 words or less, and it’s very common for artists to incorrectly focus on the meaning behind their work instead of what the artwork looks like or how it’s made. Ghostwriting can be useful for those whose statements are dry and unfocused, or those who don’t have time or energy to write about their own work.

Website Copy: A well-structured and informative website will help you draw audiences, including curators and collectors. Artists’ websites benefit from written text to accompany images for the simple fact that the internet relies on algorithms in order for your page to be seen (check out this post about SEO). Ideally each page should have about 300+ words of text so that your website will appear in the major search engines. Get someone else to help you write and optimize your pages!

Wiki Pages: Writing for wikis is an art of its own and involves its own process. A Wikipedia article is a great way for artists to show up in an internet search, not to mention the professional credibility it can add to your name recognition. An experienced wiki writer who understands the platform’s stylistic guidelines and rules can absolutely be engaged to write one for you as long as you disclose your relationship to the author.

Other types of texts include blogs, bios, wall text, press releases, and more.

The struggle to write about your artwork is real. Maybe it’s time to find someone who can help alleviate that stress so that you can focus on your real passion: the artwork itself.

About the author

Cara Jordan is chief editor and president at Flatpage. She has spent her career editing academic and artists' writings, primarily as a developmental editor and copyeditor. She received her PhD in art history from the Graduate Center, CUNY.


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