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What to Include in Your Curriculum Vitae

December 3, 2009

artist cvThe next part of my series on getting your art into galleries focuses on the curriculum vitae, or CV. Sometimes called an artist resume, this is a detailed document of your professional experiences as an artist. 

Writing a CV might be intimidating, but although it’s nit-picky and time consuming, it’s not difficult. Once you get a first draft, the rest is just maintenance. Your curriculum vitae is something you will continue to add to for the duration of your artistic career.

Your CV should be laid out like a regular resume and include all of your contact information. When listing your experiences start with the most recent events first and then go backwards. Also remember to include dates, the institution, gallery, or organization involved, and the geographical location. Take a look at my CV for an example of format and lay-out.

To start you off, here are some things you might include:

1. Education. This usually comes first, but not always. Include any relevant education you’ve had. This is generally formal education, although you could include longer term workshops if appropriate.

2. Exhibitions. You might organize this section differently depending on your exhibition history.  You can group all of your exhibitions together, or you can have separate sections for group and solo shows. Make sure you indicate any shows that were juried or had a catalogue.

When  you’re just starting out, you’ll likely include all of your exhibitions. As you gain more experience, your CV will get bigger and you’ll have to trim some things out. If you have more shows than you have room to list, leave out the least important ones, but make sure you change your title to “Selected Exhibitions.”

3. Scholarships and/or Awards. You might use one or both of these words in your title, or if you have several of each you might have a separate section of each. It all depends on what is relevant to you! Here you will list any art-related awards you have received. If you’re in school, these could include scholarships or bursaries. You can also include nominations to invitational art competitions (whether or not you won anything).

4. Bibliography. Keep track of any time your name appears in print. If your show is reviewed in the newspaper or a magazine, list it. If you’ve done a newspaper or TV interview, list it. This section is for writings by other people about you.

5. Workshops. If you have done extensive training through various workshops, you may want to include that as well. While this falls under the category of education, you may want a separate section for more informal learning situations.

6. Works in Collections. Here you can list any business or institution that has purchased your work. You may also want to state that you have works in private collections, without naming names.

7. Other. Your CV may include any number of other sections depending on your experiences. These could be things like publications (articles you’ve written), teaching experience, volunteer experience, artist residencies, artist talks, commissions, memberships, gallery representation… The list goes on!

If you are like me, and have one or two things for several of these categories, you can put them all together under one heading: “Professional Activities.” In my CV, I include my volunteer work, my teaching experience, and my art talks in this category.

When you’re just beginning, you will want to include everything in your curriculum vitae. As you get more experiences, you can begin to whittle down your CV to the most important events. It’s a good idea to keep it at a single page. Think quality over quantity.

Some artists like to use a two-column format to give them a little extra room. That doesn’t work for me, but it’s a strategy you could try!

Your CV is another one of the necessary components of your exhibition proposal. If you want to have shows, you’re going to need one! Start to keep track of your accomplishments early in your career and you will make this process much easier on yourself.

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4 Comments
  1. One program is the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, they offer scholarships and recognition for teens. Their website is http://www.artandwriting.org

  2. As always you share good advice here! The great challenge is for those of us who have changed careers!

    • You’re right, Kim, that is a challenge! That’s when you sign up for any group show you can, or even plan your own! I’ve heard of people who rent a vacant store front for a month to have an exhibit. It wouldn’t be too expensive if you were able to split it with a few other artists. Anything to put on your CV is a good thing!

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