Writing my Artist Bio

Now that my sketchbook is done, I’m taking Sherry’s advice and spending the rest of January relaxing and cleaning the house. Paradoxically, this peaceful lifestyle gives me more focus and energy, so that I have been very happily doing some work as well. Today I did a short home yoga practice, had lunch with a friend, reorganized some crafting supplies that have long needed tidying, ran a couple of errands, read a lot of web comics, and began trying to write an artist bio.

Prior to this year, I had never given a thought to a proper artist bio, mostly because I didn’t think of myself as enough of a “serious artist” to merit one. But I’ve changed my mind on that. First, Anthem Salgado emphasizes the bio as the #1 on his Top 5 Essentials for All Emerging Artists. After reading his post, I realized he was right; it’s just as important as having a website or high-quality images of my work. Second, the Sketchbook Project has asked all contributors for a 400-character (roughly 50 words) bio to accompany their sketchbooks, so I do actually need a bio right now. Third, my mom sent me a NYT post by blogger Jennifer Cheng, and when I visited her site (which is, incidentally, another WordPress site), I looked for and was immediately able to find two About pages that summed up what she’s all about. As a newcomer to her story and her site, they were immensely helpful in making me want to read her posts and subscribe to her feed. Although I do have an About page on my website, there isn’t one on this blog, and that should change.

I made my CV first (the #2 on Anthem’s list) so I’d have something to work from, then cobbled together a roughly 100-word bio. For the Sketchbook Project, I cut that down still further and came up with this:

Lisa Hsia is a writer and visual artist based in Northern California. A former scholar of Asian American and culinary history, she left academia in 2007 to pursue her lifelong creative interests. She has studied fiction writing and sequential art (comics), figure and portrait drawing, and watercolor painting. She is currently working on her family history, to be told in graphic novel format.

What do you think? I worry a little that I’m falsely representing myself by saying “I left academia,” since I was a grad student at the time and not a PhD-toting professor. Also, I don’t like portraying myself as what I’m not — a scholar — but I feel obliged to say something about it, because I want to explain why I didn’t go to school for art or writing. I’d appreciate your feedback!

Once I get that done to my satisfaction, I’ll work on articulating a mission statement. This is more daunting than the bio, but since I did write an Artist Statement for the Hedgebrook application, it might not be so bad. I will, as always, keep you posted!