Thursday, July 20, 2006

Writing an Artist's Resume

Being an artist means not only making your art but of course promoting your art. But some would argue that you’re really promoting yourself. Regardless, you need to have a good resume.
Edward Winkleman’s blog recently had a great post about resumes/bios with some really valuable information (be sure to read the comments, too). I’ll just add to it by telling you how I deal with my resume.

I created a Word document titled, “current resume,” that I update frequently. This resume includes everything. I probably wouldn’t show this resume to anyone, but it’s nice to have it all documented in case it’s needed someday. I can edit this all inclusive resume and create an alternate resume for any given situation – applying for a teaching position, submitting a proposal to a gallery, applying for a job, etc.

The all inclusive resume is divided into categories and formatted appropriately. The categories include:
Name and contact information (I put this in the header and footer so it shows up on each page)
Forthcoming Exhibitions
Exhibitions (separated by year and then into categories - solo, juried, and group)
Publications (in which I’m mentioned or my work is reviewed)
Collections (public and private)
Teaching Experience
Related Experience (volunteer positions, committees, boards, serving as a juror, etc.)

I edit down this information to create a resume to send to a gallery.

In the gallery resume, I will include:

Name and Contact Information

Forthcoming Solo Exhibitions
Venue, Location, Date

Shelbyville Community College, Shelbyville, Missouri, 2007

Selected Exhibitions
I edit the exhibitions and title it, “Selected Exhibitions.” I don’t usually include open shows or member shows, as they aren’t all that impressive (everybody usually gets in, so it’s not considered prestigious). There’s a local exhibition that I enter frequently, so I won’t usually list that unless there was a particularly well-known juror or I won an award in the show. And I do usually include the juror. Some are more well-known than others, but I think it’s good to be consistent (if you list one, you should list them all).

"Freezing," Springfield Center for the Arts, Springfield, ME
"Big Time Invitational," The Palomino Gallery, Arlington, CA
"Super Cool Art Exhibition," Johnstown University, Johnstown, TX
"Simple Things 2005," Sprightly Art Center, Baltimore, OK
(Juror: Stacy Smith, Executive Director, Eagle Mountain Art Center, Chicago, IL)

Public Collections

Private Collections

Use a consistent, standard formatting method (such as MLA or APA).

Johnson, John. "Paintings fill art center with life." The Springfield Times 15 Oct. 2005: 7.

MFA, Studio Painting - Springfield University, Springfield, TX, 2005
Minor: Art History

This gallery resume focuses on exhibitions, collections, and education. If I were to apply for a teaching job, I would probably have a much longer resume, as more and varied activity is important for that type of position.

I don’t usually include a bio unless it is requested. I do have a short bio that I wrote myself, but I’m considering having a writer friend do a more extensive one for me.

Here are a few resources for writing an artist’s bio (some music and dance-related, but still relevant):
Durable Goods
Music Biz Academy

And some resources for resumes:
The Artist's Trust
NYFA Interactive


Deanna said...

I think most gallery directors look at the work first. The good ones will ask a lot of questions about the artist's process, methods, and inspiration, so that they can talk intelligently to the clients who come to the gallery. The good ones do, anyway... As far as the resume goes, most gallery directors will want to know where you've shown and where you're represented. For example, if you're being represented by galleries in New York and a smaller city, then the gallery director in the smaller city can use your New York representtion as a major selling point to clients who may be "on the fence" about purchasing your work. But you're also right about it being like junior high. Sadly, in a lot of ways it is...

Ana Banana Angel said...

really good info, i really have enjoyed your blog, its got heaps of info which has really helped me out.. cheers and looking forward to reading more of your blog.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. After 30+ years of painting privately comissioned portraits, I have been approached by a gallery to represent me. For the first time in my career I have to come up with a resume and "artist's statement". I haven't filed all my accomplishments over the years other than a client list. I hope my work will speak for itself because my resume will be very simple. What is an artist's statement? Thanks to anyone who can answer this for me.

Deanna said...

Anonymous - good luck to you! An artist's statement is just a brief written explanation of your work: This is what I paint. This is what it means. This is how I do it/or the materials that I use.

SBrownART said...

This information is invaluable!!!! My husband is applying for a residency, and this information is a lifesaver putting together his resume'.



Scarlet Fields said...

Wow! very excellent, thanks so very much for sharing!

Anonymous said...

as I understand, 'publications' typically means that you are the author; 'bibliography' is the more proper title for a list of articles that mention you as the subject

Deanna said...

Thanks for the clarification!

Jennifer Surine said...

If your work is mentioned in a paragraph of the Newspaper (overall talking about the show you are a part of) should that be listed? If so, under Publications?

Deanna said...

Yes, Jennifer, you can list articles in which your name or work is mentioned. Someone commented above that the correct wording for that section is "Bibliography", so you need to decide what you want to call it. I would just make sure to use a common style for listing articles, such as MLA or APA. Be sure to list the article title, publication title, author, page number(s), date, etc. And be sure to keep a copy for your files. And congratulations on getting some press!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to write out this resource!

Unknown said...

Having attended two universities to study art, dating a far back as the 70s up to the present this kind of practical information was sadly lacking in the past however my last art education experience was excellent regarding this essential information. Thankfully the online world has opened things up for artists. Thank you for such a good post and great blog!29

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Melissa Wolf said...

I am an artists career coach and I am finding some of the information incorrect. You definitely need to list your public and private collections. Galleries will want to see that you have a following and a track record of sales. That is the important error that I see. Also that education goes first. When editing an artists resume I usually put representation, museums, solo exhibitions, group exhibitions, awards, followed by more. You can see more information on my blog at:

Deanna said...

Thanks, Melissa. I edited the post. I did mention public and private collections at the beginning, but at the time I wasn't in any, so I left it out of the detailed description since it didn't apply to me. I also got rid of some dead links.

Sarena said...

Thank you for this! I'm searching around for info to put together an artist resume and bio, and I came across your blog. It was very helpful - especially since I thought quitting the 9-5 and exploring my art full time would eliminate stuff like this. No matter what, someone wants your resume. :) The hard part was, having been a private artist for my entire life, I thought I didn't have a lot of substance to include. But I really did! Now with a gallery interested as well as some corporations, I don't feel like a complete failure writing this resume and statement. Thanks again for a great site - reading the comments really helped me feel like part of a community.