The Artist Resume

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Typically the artist bio, cv, or resume is a one to two page list of exhibits and related activities.  If you are an artist seeking employment, then your resume will be like a regular resume for folks posting for a job on the job market. 

An artist resume for acceptance into galleries, publishers, or museums is structured a little differently and has a different purpose.

That purpose is simply to impress those that can give the artist’s career an upward boost.

It should reflect your achievement in the arts field.  The artist resume is NOT about what you HOPE to achieve or an EXPLANATION of the meaning of your work. (this is what the artist statement is for)

The headings within the artist resume will be from most important, to least important activities.

Artist Resume Heading Examples:

  • Solo exhibitions,
  • commissioned work,
  • group exhibitions,
  • publications and reviews,
  • grants and awards,
  • collections,
  • bibliography,
  • lectures and public speaking engagements,
  • affiliations,
  • education,
  • birthplace,
  • represented by.

Collections = public and private, primarily those that have more than 2 pieces of your work above those that have only one piece.  State those of public prominence, lawyers, doctors, community leaders, people of influence. 

Bibliography = publications in which you are mentioned, name the author, article title, name of publication, pub date.

Affiliations = art organizations or community art activities you participate in.

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Exhibitions = List most important information 1st, most recent activity first working back in time. Name & location (town, state only) title of show if it had one.  Show dates month and year, when art professionals review, they sometimes need to back check, and this is usually enough information to verify.

In today’s time, most artists will have big gaps in some areas.  That’s ok, as your career progresses, filling in the gaps will become easy.

What if I’m just starting, so I really haven’t had an exhibition!

Traditionally the bio/resume is to highlight exhibitions record only. If this area is really lite, you can still show that your career is vigorous and professional by highlighting other activities.  I show you this below.

It shoud reflect that you are dedicated to your craft, committed to the long term and that your work is in demand.

How do I start?
You must answer this question.  What is unique, stands out, and is interesting about you and your art career? 

A simple exercise to get your creative juices flowing in determining what to write is simply this:

Get out your paper, put down today's date and begin writing what has happened to you and your art.  Working backwards in time, include anything that can be tied to your artistic career. 

Then answer these questions as you roll back the months and years.

  • Where did you live?
  • What job were you working at the time while you also created art?
  • What artwork did you create?
  • Where did you travel to on vacation, business? 
  • Did you take any art related classes?

For the Artist with no Exhibition record:
A non-traditional addition to the resume is for those without a heavy exhibition record, but works fine as it shows your dedication to your craft, and that you have produced art!  Include a “body of work” section.  List your work that was completed over a specific period of time.  Especially if it can be tied together by subject matter, mood, color, technique, etc.

Say you had a whole series on cat portraits.  Explain why this happened, or describe the technique or materials used if it was out of the ordinary.   Give the series a title, feline fantasies, or something appropriate for the series.

You may have painted a number of plein-air paintings while on vacation to Scotland and was moved by the castles, locks, and wet weather.  You could call it, “Looking for Nessy.” (the prehistoric animal living in one of the lakes)!

Lets say you traveled a lot for business while building your art portfolio.  Were your works inspired by the places you visited or stayed?  Include this in your body of works section.

Some final notes:
Add any part of life that can be tied to your art.  And even areas that may appear in conflict.  You may have had a job as a technician, or manager, and turned your art into a time of calm and relaxation from the hectic day. (Something I did for 30 years.)

You may have used your creative mindset to solve many problems in your daytime job and on the easel.

People always would ask me how I could think of such a solution, or, how did you figure that out with what information you had on hand?  I would kid them with, “you have a genius within your midst!  I never told them it was my right side brain thinking (the artistic side) that developed solutions to problems all the time! 

So go ahead, get started showing that, as an artist, you really do stand out in the crowd, and put that information down on paper with your own artist resume!

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