Resources

Standards and guidelines

ARTIST RÉSUMÉ: RECOMMENDED CONVENTIONS

General Comments

The artist résumé conventions presented here are designed primarily for use in proposals to professional venues, which can include commercial and non-profit galleries, museums, and art centers. These recommendations can also be followed when submitting a résumé for grants, residency programs, commissions, and other exhibition opportunities. The artist résumé is increasingly used as an essential element on artist and gallery websites and may also be used in publications such as exhibition catalogues. Avoid making the artist résumé complicated; it is meant to be short and simple to review. Normally the artist résumé is succinct (one to four pages in length) and is similar to the short curriculum vitae or short CV.

All artists should have a standard up-to-date résumé available; all résumés ideally should be tailored to specific purposes. Therefore, artists are advised to follow a venue’s stated guidelines for submitting résumés, including the number of pages specified.

Always keep a comprehensive master copy of your artist résumé that includes all relevant information about your career and education. The master copy can be adapted to a targeted audience by adding items in categories that are pertinent and subtracting other in categories less relevant. Also, the significance of an entry is not always evident when it occurs and could become more important later. If you take the time to document all relevant accomplishments in a master résumé, you can retain important information that may otherwise be forgotten or lost.

Institutions receive dozens of submissions per week, so keep your résumé simple and straightforward. Easy-to-read fonts and type sizes (never below 10 point) help facilitate reading. Use white space well and do not submit your résumé on colored paper. Do not use headshots, images, or colored fonts. A beautifully prepared résumé will not get you an exhibition opportunity if your art or its documentation is weak, but a poorly designed résumé could cost you such an opportunity. As technology changes, be sure to submit your artist résumé in the format that the application or guidelines specify.

A current good practice is to save your résumé as both PDF and Word files. Maintain an up-to-date copy of your résumé as a Word document because it is the easiest format to edit and update. A PDF file is the ideal format to submit with applications or for display because spacing, margins, and formatting are retained across computer platforms. If no submission directions are given, or if an institution gives you the option of sending a Word document or a PDF, you should always choose to send a PDF.

Both the résumé and the CV should list entries within each category in reverse chronological order (i.e., placing the most recent entry first and so on, with the least recent entry being the last entry in each category). Exceptions to this convention are entries without dates under categories such as Collections or Gallery Affiliation. In these cases entries should be listed in alphabetical order. Another exception to using reverse chronology is found under Education, where you should list institutions attended without earning a degree after listing schools (in reverse chronology) where degrees were earned.

Depending on your individual strengths as an artist, you may choose to rearrange the recommended order of some of the categories found below. For example, you may choose to put your exhibitions first, before any awards or honors. As a general rule, you should “play to your strengths” by placing more important, relevant, and recent information near the beginning of your résumé. Otherwise, the order recommended below is a good one to follow. (For obvious reasons, do not list category headings that are not relevant to you.)

Sample Artist Résumé. (With Commentary)

List your most recent entries first, under each heading. Pagination is recommended beginning with page two. Use 10–12-point type in a standard, legible typeface. Consider typefaces such as Times New Roman, Bodoni, Baskerville, Caslon, Garamond, and Palatino. These typefaces have a wide selection of variations; e.g. bold, italic, and condensed, which would, for example, allow you to avoid the necessity of using quotation marks to indicate titles. Avoid using exotic typefaces that may detract from the content of the résumé.

San serif typefaces such as Helvetica or Arial do not provide the contrast between roman and italic forms and are usually more difficult to read.

  1. Name(and Contact Information)

Name: Your name can appear in uppercase, bold, or large type—or a combination of these.

Preferred mailing address: Providing a mailing address is optional. Some artists may prefer not to include this, for security reasons.

Phone Number(s): List any numbers (work, studio, home, or fax) where you are comfortable being contacted. Some artists prefer to list their cell number as a studio number. Other artists may choose to remove their cell number and other personal address information from their résumé—especially from a website résumé or CV. Consider listing at least one phone number, so you can be easily reached.)

Email: An email address (a must!) on the artist résumé is typically a personal, non-institutional email address. When you use a personal email address, use one that looks professional.

Personal Website: Personal websites are becoming more and more essential. Providing a URL to a personal website is highly recommended.

Comments: Much of the above information is commonly included as part of an artist’s personal letterhead. If you chose to design a letterhead for your documents that includes contact information, keep it clean, simple, and easy to read. You don’t want to distract readers from content with too many flourishes. Letterheads can convey personality without overwhelming the reader.

If a gallery gives you an exhibition or accepts you for representation, they may eliminate much of the personal information in this category. They will probably remove your address, phone numbers, etc., and provide your date and/or place of birth. This is a common practice for galleries so that a potential buyer is directed to the gallery for inquiries about your work.

 

  1. Education

Comments: Dates should appear on the far left for all relevant categories following the personal information listed above (with exceptions such as Collections, Bibliography, and Publications by Author, which follow their own particular formats. See below under these categories.). List dates of academic degrees by year in reverse chronology, noting honors and/or distinctions. It is informative and may be useful to list the major or area of studio concentration, but this is optional.

 

Education

2013 MFA (candidate) in Sculpture, Nigeria Institute of the Arts, Lagos State,
(expected graduation: May 2013)
2010 BFA in Studio Art, University of Benin.
2005 BA cum laude, French, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX
2004 Pont-Aven School of Art, Pont-Aven, France (summer session)

For currently enrolled students, clearly state that the degree is pending by using the words “(pending)” or “(candidate)” in parentheses following the degree being sought. List the expected graduation date at the end.

It is not uncommon to have studied at a university or college without completing the degree. You should list these periods of study after the list of degrees earned. (See above example.)

Avoid using abbreviations when listing the names of universities, colleges, and art schools.

It is perfectly acceptable to abbreviate the names of states or not, at your discretion, but it is more important to format consistently throughout. Two-letter postal codes should be used for states, and “US” rather than “U.S.” should be used as well. When needed, however, names of foreign countries should always be spelled out.

For those artists who have attended schools outside the United States, the country should be listed at the end. Likewise, artists who attended institutions in the United States, and who are submitting résumés to recipients in other countries, should list US at the end of each Education entry.

Education

2012 MFA in Studio Art, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife
2009 Yaba College of Technology
Higher National Diploma in Graphic Art
2007,
Upper Credit.
  1. Grants/Awards(Grants/Fellowships, Awards/Honors, Residencies, etc.)
1998 Society of  Nigeria Artist Honourary Award
1991 Artist-in-Residency Fellowship, Roswell Museum and Art Center, Roswell, NM

Comments: Any of the headings (Grants, Fellowships, Scholarships, Awards, Honors, and/or Residencies) may be listed together or separately, depending on your own record of accomplishments and how best to highlight them. (For example, if you do not have any residencies, leave the category unlisted. If you have only one residency, you might decide to list it together with other awards and fellowships you have received. If you have a number of residencies, you might choose to list it as a separate category.)

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