How To Write An Artist CV When You Don't Have Much Experience
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Every journey starts with the first step.
Listen, everybody's gotta start somewhere. You're probably reading this because your at Square One. Plan A. Ground Zero. But your journey won't end there, and that's point. If you're looking to make a profession from your creative work, sooner or later you'll be asked to present your Artist CV. Like any job, employers or people who want to hire you for work will want a little insight into your history, accomplishments and skills. Typically they'll check out your website, social media, they'll ask for a CV and sometimes they'll ask for your portfolio. More often than not, your employer will want to know this information before they decide to meet you for an interview. Here's what you'll need to put your best foot forward when writing your CV.
In a nutshell, this is a quick list of headings you can have:
You gotta own it! Make it look good.
Something to remember is that this is your CV so you can take some freedom in how you present the formatting for the information you include. Just make sure it's clear and easy to read. I've outlined a couple of format options for some of the sections.
This can really set you up to be noticed as a professional, or at least as a person whose progressing nicely in their art career. But what if you've just gotten yourself into taking your art more seriously and you really can't fill up all these sections?
Don't worry, you can still make a lasting impression even if you have little to no experience by putting what you DO have experience in and really focus on your wording. You're also allowed to put things that may be in the works and coming up. Just make sure they are confirmed, like 100% in the bag.
So, because the idea here is to progress, grow, and have a long career in arts, no matter where you start, we're gonna highlight the truly admirable career of Amy Sherald. Just so we can see how a professional artist does it, and aspire to one day have as many amazing accomplishments on our cv as she does. Her CV is posted online and is seriously impressive, super inspiring yet, simple and succinct.
**Disclaimer: Some details may be altered for the sake of making an alternative example.
Here you'll have your full name, birth year, place of birth, place of work, email and phone number. (If your CV is posted online I wouldn't include your phone number, but that's just me.)
Amy Sherald American, b. Columbus, GA 1973 Lives and works in Baltimore, MD
Amy Sherald (b. 1973, USA) Resides in Baltimore, MD
email@example.com | www.yourwebsite.com | 123 456 7890
Or, if you're represented by a gallery, you may be required to put their contact details instead:
Amy Sherald is represented by Hauser & Wirth. For work inquiries, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
EDUCATION Every event on your cv should be in descending chronological order (going from present to past)
Reminder: some of these details are fake, for the sake of examples for formatting.
2004 MFA, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD
1997 BFA (Attained with Distinction), Clark-Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA
1995 BA (Hons) in Illustration & Design - Whatever College of Art, USA
1985 GED Diploma | Whatever High School, Altanta, GA, USA
You may prefer to separate your headings into 'Solo Exhibitions' and 'Group Exhibitions', although if you haven't exhibited very much, just combined them under one 'Exhibitions' heading.
2018 (Solo) Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis, MO
2017 (Group) Color People, curated by Rashid Johnson, East Hampton, NY
2018 Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis, MO
2017 Amy Sherald, moniquemeloche LES, New York, NY
2017 Color People, curated by Rashid Johnson, East Hampton, NY
2016 About Face, Creative Alliance, Baltimore, MD
PUBLICATIONS (OR BIBLIOGRAPHY)
This will be where you'll include any online or physical publication about your artwork. That's blog posts, news articles, journals, books, magazines, etc. Keep it simple and clear to read, you may use Chicago citation format which is typically used in Business, History and Fine Arts.
Author Last name, Author First name. "Title of Piece", Company Name, Edition/Volume, Date.
If you have many publications in one year (congrats!) you'll put the Year as the subheading, and put the Day and Month at the end.
2018 Gittlen, Ariela. “Obama Portraitist Amy Sherald Gives Advice to Young Artists,” Artsy, February 27.
2013 “Presence of Mind- Revealing Africans in the European Art”, Transitions: International Review, Issue 111. “Resisting Homogeneity in the 21st Century”, The International Review of African American Art, Vol. 24, No.2.
Remember, some things are just meant for your website.
Even if you've never been published but you're a social media butterfly and have been featured on Instagram, tweeted about or mentioned online, that counts! Just not on a CV... But you might consider making screenshots of these mentions and display them on a 'Published' section on your website.
But as for your CV...
If you only have 1 or 2 publications per year, you could put the Date first before the Author, purely for the sake of easily organising things chronologically.
2018, February 27. Gittlen, Ariela. “Obama Portraitist Amy Sherald Gives Advice to Young Artists,” Artsy.
Essentially, collections are any public institutions or people that own your artwork. These can be separated by Public and Personal headings.
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO
The Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, NC
If you've only sold work to a few friends and family, you might put something like this:
Personal collections in USA, Australia and Europe.
Or, Personal collections in London and Manchester.
This is where you'll put any art related work. If you have a significant amount of work that falls under one main area, like Teaching or Curatorial, you'll want to use that as the heading instead of 'Work History'. But if you've done a little of this, and a little of that, you can put them all into the heading of 'Work History' or 'Work Experience'. You could even include that time you were asked to paint a window display at your retail job, or that time you volunteered to paint a mural for your school hallways.
2018, Art Instructor, Introduction to Painting Workshop, Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis, MO*
2017 - 2018 Teaching Art & Design, Whatever High School, London, UK
2016 Guest Lecturer, College of Art, US
AWARDS & GRANTS
Here you can include any awards or grants you have received, even if it's just one single award from high school for that time you made a backdrop for the school play, or a portfolio award for your college application. This list should specifically be related to your artistic practice, unless your award is extremely notable, such as the Nobel Peace Prize (lucky you!)
2016 Bethesda Painting Award - Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition Grand Prize, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery
2015 Semi-Finalist for Sondheim Artscape Prize
If you've done an artist residency, you'll definitely want to include it on your CV as it indicates a great dedication to your artistic practice and professional development.
2017 Joan Mitchell Residency, New Orleans, Louisiana
2014-16 Creative Alliance Baltimore, USA
Be sure to check out other artists websites to see how they've constructed their CV's. Take a look around the web to get some ideas.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lauren was born in London, but grew up in Canada where she received her degrees with distinction in Fine Arts and Education. Now she's back, she continues her work in creative arts by making art and teaching it, while developing opportunities for early career artists by creating and running the online platform Dark Yellow Dot.