Wednesday, December 16, 2015

How to Write Your Artist Resume'

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:

Education:
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 subjects studied. 

Awards:
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,

Publications:
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.

Solo Shows:
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.

Memberships:
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.

Gallery Affiliations:
List the name of gallery, the city and state, and the years affiliated.

Teaching Experience:
List the school, organization, or venue.  Include the courses taught, the city and state, and the month and year.

Juror Experience:
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.

Collections:
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.

Fellowships, Grants, and Scholarships:
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 your business.

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 materials. 


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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 Artist magazine. 

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Google+ All images and content copyright Annie Strack 2008 Although I occasionally receive compensation for some posts, I always give my honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely my own.