Lately I've been getting a lot of questions from artists asking for help writing their artist resume'.
Here's a reprint of a helpful article that I wrote for Art Calendar (aka Professional Artist) magazine, that never goes out of style!
Writing your Artist Resume
By Annie Strack (originally published 2008)
Of the three most important documents in an artists marketing
arsenal, the resume can be the easiest to write. It is a handy reference when writing your artist
biography, creating brochures, or writing press releases. It is essential when applying for jobs,
grants, and handy to include in press packets.
Occasionally an artist organization will ask for it if they are
considering you to be a juror or instructor.
The traditional resume is, however, limited in use, as most organizations
and clients may prefer to see your biography or artist statement instead. If used in promotional materials like your
press packet, brochure, portfolio, or website, the word “resume” should be
avoided. After all, you don’t want the
reader to think that you are job hunting! You want to give the impression that you are a
confident, self employed artist. You
want the reader to see the document as a summery of your professional
experiences and successes, a list of your achievements, a compilation of your
credentials. For most of your marketing
and promotional purposes you should use other labels for your resume, like
“Experience,” “Credentials,” “Achievements,” “Honors,” etc. Only use the word “Resume” when applying for
a job or when required during an application process.
The format for writing a resume is simple; create headers,
followed by lists. Start with a simple
outline format, and make a list of headers that are appropriate to you and your
experience. Then under each header, list
the relevant experiences. The items
listed under each header need to include the year of the event or activity, and
in some cases the month or a full date. The
city and state also needs to be included in each listing, and include the
country if the event was outside of the US
The order you list your headers is up to you. You can list them in order of importance,
most recent, or you can start with your largest category. List the items below each header in chronological
order, starting with the most recent.
Each item listed can either start or end with the date, but keep the
format consistent through out the entire document.
Examples of common headers are:
List the art schools you’ve
attended, and the degrees attained and the years attended. If you’ve taken workshops or private lessons you
can list those as well, and include the instructor’s names and the courses or
List the award, the name of the
organization and the type of show (regional, national, juried, membership,
etc.), the city and state, and the month and year,
List the name and the type of the
publication (book, magazine, catalog, newspaper), the title of the article or
story, the city and state, and the date.
List the title of the show, the
name of the venue, the city and state, and the month and year.
Juried or Group Exhibits:
List the type of show, the name of
the venue or organization, the city and state, and the month and year.
List your memberships and
affiliations in order of importance. Include the name of organization, type of
membership (juried, signature,) committees you served on and positions held
(chairman, director, volunteer, etc.), and the years of membership.
List the name of gallery, the city
and state, and the years affiliated.
List the school, organization, or
venue. Include the courses taught, the city
and state, and the month and year.
List the type of competition (regional
show, student show, juried show, poster contest, etc.), the name of the
organization, the city and state, and the month and year.
If you want, you can break this down
into sub headers; Museums, Public Collections, Corporate Collections, Celebrity
Collections, etc. List the names of the
agency, business, or organization, and the city and state.
List the type of award, the name of
the awarding agency and their location, and the year of the award.
Creating your artist’s resume can be a daunting task if
you’ve been keeping track of your achievements and writing them down
regularly. To get started, you can refer
to your past appointment calendars to help you remember previous events and
dates. Your old files filled with
diplomas and certificates will also help you to remember events and activities,
as will your boxes of ribbons and awards, newspaper clippings, and
scrapbooks. When you are starting to
compile your resume, list everything.
You can always edit it later. After
you have it all written down, you can rearrange the order of your headers so
that your strongest areas or most important headers are listed first. If any of the lists under a header become too
long because your experience spans many years or decades, you can modify the
header of that list with an appropriate adjective, such as “Select”, “Major”, “Important”,
or “Recent”, as in “Select Publications”, or “Important Collections”, “Major
Awards”, or “Recent Group Exhibits”.
The headers I’ve provided are just examples, and you don’t
have to have something to list under every one.
For example, if you have lots of shows and awards under your belt but
you’re a completely self taught artist, you can just skip the education header
completely. Or you can combine some of
the similar headers together as one subject. For instance you may find that your
experiences as an artist in residence fits better under “Teaching Experience”
or “Education.” If you have only a few
grants to list you include them under “Awards” rather than have a separate
heading with only a few listed. If you
don’t have a lot of exhibit experience, you can group all your shows under one
heading and call that header “Exhibit History”.
Or if there is a subject header that is relevant to your art career but
is not listed here, you can add it if needed.
Remember that this is your resume as a professional artist,
so there is no need to include extraneous information. Your age, date of birth, marital status, and
children’s names are irrelevant to this document and should not included. Also, because an artist resume is not the
same as an employment resume, there is no need to include any job experiences
that are not related to your art career.
If your non-art careers or jobs have influenced your creativity and you
feel it’s important to mention how they’ve impacted your art, those experiences
can be included in your artist’s biography.
As with all of your promotional materials, you will want to
print your resume on your business letterhead.
Your letterhead should look professional, and have your name, the name
of your business, your address, and all other current contact information for
Once you have all of your information written down in a
standard resume format, you’ll find it is easy to keep it up-dated. As a complete listing of all your
achievements and credentials, you can easily reference the document when
creating or revising any of your other marketing and promotional
Annie Strack earned Signature Membership from 8
artist societies and she’s an Official Authorized Artist for the U.S. Coast
Guard. Her art has received hundreds of awards and hangs in collections worldwide.
She’s a popular juror for art competitions, and is a much sought after lecturer
and workshop instructor. Annie draws experience from her former career in
corporate management to build a successful art career, and she shares her
knowledge of business and marketing in her articles for Professional