Write Your Artist CV

by Carolyn Edlund

A CV is an important piece of supporting collateral to use with your portfolio, bio and other artist materials. This simple guide will get you started on writing your own.

 

Write Your Artist CV

 

The initials CV stand for “curriculum vitae” which is Latin for “course of life” and is a practical document that presents your educational and professional experience as an artist. Unlike a traditional resume which focuses on job history, the CV is a more well-rounded presentation, more like a biography with specific details noted in an organized fashion.

The CV covers highlights and noteworthy accomplishments, not everything you have done. If printed, it should run about a page in length, and convey the most important information about you as an artist. A CV should be a straightforward document presented in a clear format and easy-to-read font. They are often used in submissions to galleries, grant applications, applying to an art-related position, and other places where they are requested. Artists often include their CV on their website as well.

When it is submitted as collateral, a good cover letter should accompany your CV, tailored to the purpose and the party who is receiving it.

This article is not a comprehensive authority on putting together a CV, but rather a general guide. Find an excellent resource which lists professional guidelines for CVs at the College Art Association of America website.

What belongs in an artist’s CV? The document may include a number of different categories that help share your experience and background as an artist, and may include:

Personal Details and Contact Information

Place this in the header of your CV. Include name, address, website URL, email address, phone number.

Example:

  ARTIST NAME
(212)-555-5555 | [email protected] | www.yourwebsite.com | Street address

Education

Specific to the field of art, this item should list the school and year of graduation, with the most recent listed first. Don’t have an art degree or training? Leave this item off the list.

Example:

Pratt Institute, Master of Fine Arts, 2012
New York University, Bachelor of Fine Arts, 2008

Exhibition History

Listing your most recent exhibition first, place this in order of year, title of the show, gallery or venue, city, state and country if applicable. You may split this into Solo Exhibitions and Group Exhibitions, listing the solo shows first. Indicate the name of the show in italics.

If you have an extensive history of exhibitions, or if some are not completely relevant to your current work, you may want to list a Selected Exhibition History. If you have fewer exhibitions (perhaps 12-15) you may want to list all of them.

Example:

2019    Annual National Small Works Juried Exhibition, Washington Printmakers Gallery, Washington, DC
2018    On the Edge, Northwest Prints Council Gallery, Portland, OR

Bibliography

If you have gotten press exposure through an interview, if you have written an article, had your art appear on a magazine cover, been a guest on a podcast or TV show, etc., you can list that information in this section.

List articles in your CV, including those about you and those you have written. These can be in one category, or if you have an extensive list, split them into print publications, online periodicals, and so forth.

List these with the most recent publication first, in reverse chronological order.

Example:

Painter, Joe: “My Best Plein Air Technique”, Outdoor Art Magazine, vol. 10, February 2011, p. 10-12

Collections – Public, Private and Corporate

Note in your CV if your work is in a public collection (such as a museum or governmental office), a corporate collection, or private collection. These can be separated if you have a number of listings, or they can be grouped. Use title, the name of the collection, location and year acquired.

Example:

The Lovers, Local Art Museum, Anytown, Oregon, 2016

If your work is part of a private collection, do not use the name of the collector in your CV without their written permission (an email will work for this). If not, and your work is in several private collections, you may note it this way:

Example:

Artwork held in private collections in the United States, Canada, France and Australia.

Residencies 

In this section, list awards, notable grants and fellowships that are art-related.

Example:

2017   Artist-in-Residence Program, Camargo Foundation, Cassis, France

Awards, Grants, and Fellowships

Example:

2018  Healing Arts Award, First place, Anytown Visual Arts Center, Anytown, Oregon

Professional Association Memberships

Include organizations where you hold membership if it enhances your presentation. This section is especially helpful for artists who have been juried into a coveted spot in an association that is nationally recognized for excellence.

Example:

Signature Member, National Watercolor Society, San Pedro, CA

Gallery Representation

This optional category should reflect galleries with which you have current and ongoing relationships.

Customize Your CV to Meet Your Needs

The type and amount of information that can be used in a CV is extensive. Focus on details that help your presentation without becoming overwhelming, while keeping in mind the opportunity for which you are submitting the CV.

Adjust your CV for different purposes and have several versions of it. Keep a master copy of each version of your CV for your records, and to allow easy access. You may want to keep your CV as a Word document, but also as a PDF file. These can easily be updated as your professional career evolves over time.

 

This guide to writing your CV is an excerpt from The Artsy Shark Success Guide: Sell More Art with a Dynamic Portfolio, available for purchase from our learning library.

 

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