Many applications I have completed for art school, graduate school, and teaching positions, have required an artist statement. This is one exercise (left over from academia or the fine art world, I am not sure which) that I find somewhat...uh...weird, for a commercial illustrator.
Nevertheless, I have written my fair share of artist statements. They have ranged from very serious-sounding and abstract to almost silly in their amount of art-speak. I have read a bunch too and often find them difficult to connect to the art I am looking at.
However, I do find it a helpful introspective exercise that forces you to take loose creative concepts and describe them with definitive words. If...I approach it in a more pragmatic way,(as I did the last time) it might help others discover something about my process as an image maker. The following statement seems to work pretty well for me right now. I am sure it will change as I change, but thought you might enjoy reading it.
For me, illustration is the process of giving form to my imagination. I enjoy sketching until I create what matches it the best. Or until the drawing itself surprises me and I see within it what I could not have contrived. My illustrations communicate the unwritten emotions of a story and create synergy between text and image. They add meaning to the text and bring the characters to life.
I enjoy the creative process and there is great value in it for me personally, but my purpose is to engage my viewer and inspire their imagination. It is very important for me that others understand my work and gain some benefit from it. I can do that with picture books. The stories are simple, sometimes profound. They captivate your imagination and engage your mind.
Formally, I like a full range of values, good color, and interesting light. The marks have to be fresh and confident. If done right, they will be an abstract collection of honest brushstrokes on one hand, and the seamless depiction of a convincing reality on the other.