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6 Tips for Creating Your Artist Resume

Last week we talked about writing your bio story, which is such a wonderfully rich picture of who you are as an artist. Done well, your artist bio should describe your personality, characteristics, and values to readers in an engaging and compelling way. Your resume, on the other hand, is “just the facts, ma’am.” An artist resume consists of a series of bulleted lists that document your activities and accomplishments without any description or detail. Here are six tips for creating the perfect artist resume:

  • Put the sections in the right order. Although there’s some flexibility in the sequence of the sections, it’s probably a good idea to start with the most important sections first, the sections gallerists, curators, and others will want to see right away when they start reading your resume. Here’s the sequence and section heads I recommend: Exhibitions, Collections, Commissions, Media Coverage (meaning news media, magazines, TV, radio, online venues, etc that have featured you), Awards, Teaching/Lecturing/Speaking, Affiliations, Education. If you don’t have anything to list under one or more of these sections, simply leave off that section head. You can always add it back in later when you do have something to show.
  • Go backwards in time. Each section of your artist resume should list the items in chronological order, but start with the most current items and work backwards. Obviously, as you add new items in the future, add them to the top of each appropriate section.
  • Be totally accurate. When it comes to show titles, events, publications, and even awards, it’s easy to misremember the exact wording of these items. That’s why it’s essential to look up the items on the Internet and/or in your paperwork to get the correct wording.
  • Present the information consistently. Within each section, there’s really no one right way to present the information, but however you decide to list the info, always present it the same way. Here are a couple of examples of inconsistencies that will make your resume look less than polished:
  • 2017 Botanik Group Exhibition (featured artist), Las Laguna Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA
  • 2017 R.S. Hanna Gallery, Texas
  • 2017 Various Flora and Fauna Group Exhibition, View Gallery, Old Forge, New York
(notice how the middle event is missing the exhibition title, and the way the locations are listed varies)
  • September 2015 – 122nd Women’s Art Club of Cincinnati Juried Exhibition, Honorable Mention
  • March 2015 – Second Place, Richeson75 International Small Works Show
  • December 2014 – Loveland Winter Art Show, Loveland, Ohio, Second Place
  • November 2014 – Cincinnati Art Club, Viewpoint 46, Finalist
(again in this example, the awards are sometimes at the beginning and sometimes at the end and some events list the location and others don’t, making the resume look unprofessional)
  • Keep it updated. Fairly often I’ll visit an artist’s website and see a resume that stops at, say, 2015 or even earlier. I always wonder what happened to the artist. Is she still creating and selling her work? Did he die? Usually it’s just that the artist hasn’t updated the resume, but it can be confusing to people so try to stay on top of this. If you’re a very active artist who’s participating in a lot of events and shows, you’ll probably want to update your resume once every month or two. If you’re not quite as active, probably once every six months is appropriate. And like I said, make sure you update your own copy as well as the version that appears on your website.
  • Best tip of all: Keep a master version with everything on it. At the beginning of your art career, you’ll probably have a bunch of small shows at local venues, like coffee stores and libraries and the like. But as time goes on and you’re adding more important, prestigious events to your resume, you will start to leave those early ventures off the list. However, I’ve found it really useful to keep a master copy that still includes every little thing I’ve done so I don’t lose track. In other words, I have a master resume for my own reference and a “for public consumption” resume that I post to my website and send out when needed.

What’s your best advice for a professional-looking artist resume? Let’s connect!

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