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Writing your Artist Curriculum Vitae
Stephen Near

Like the Artist Statement, the Curriculum Vitae (or CV) is a critical component of any artist's portfolio and body of work. An overview of your artistic professional history and achievements, the artist CV lists the chronological order of your career and marks your major accomplishments. Whereas your artist statement is a testimony to your work, the CV is record of your career milestones. When coupled with your Artist Statement, an effective CV illustrates your growth as an artist and the development of your work over time. Although there are many conventions to how to present the information, all artist CVs should be done in a clean and professional manner.

The following is a list of the information that should be included in your CV followed by some suggestions on what to look for when you go to write your own CV. Just remember that not all of these suggestions necessarily apply to all artists.

  • Personal Information:  Include Name, Address, Phone Number, Email, and Website (if applicable).
  • Education: List all the academic degrees you've earned making note of particular honors. You can include periods of study at schools and universities attended without completing a degree. Additional course work or studies in addition to workshops can be included. Be sure to mention any notable artists and instructors with whom you have studied. Always list these in descending order with the most recent being at the top.
  • Grants and Awards: List any awards or prizes won in competitions as well as grants, fellowships, scholarships and other recognitions. Always list these in descending order with the most recent being at the top and naming of the grant/award as well as city and province.
  • Works Produced: List your accomplishments and major works as an artist. Always list these in descending order by year with the most recent being at the top and delineated according to type (see examples below). List the name of the exhibit/production followed by gallery/theatre company and then city and province.  In the case of exhibitions, you can split them into two or more categories: solo exhibitions, group exhibitions, and even duo exhibitions. For performance artists and theatre, list relevant projects or productions and divide them up according to your role (director, playwright, performer). The same for digital and film artists. The variety of arts disciplines might include:
    • Exhibitions
    • Productions/Performances
    • Performances/Recordings
    • Films/ Videos/Shorts /Digital Media /TV
    • Published Works (where you are the author or co-author)
    • Collaborations (if you have work with others you may want to list it, as well, by indicating your role in the collaboration)
  • Publications: List any items or articles that you have written pertaining to your work as an artist. In the case of authors, this section is different than the Published Works since it is referring to work related to your career as an artist but distinct from your body-of-work. Publications might include non-fiction writing as well as magazine and newspaper articles. Online articles can be included but be selective about such entries and limit them to those directly relevant to your practise and best encapsulate your work. Always list these in descending order with the most recent being at the top.
  • Commissions: List any public or private commission you have done. Always list these in descending order with the most recent being at the top.
  • Collections: List any public or private collections that you are a part of and always list these in descending order with the most recent being at the top.
  • Media and Bibliography: List any items that have been written about you and your work. This includes articles, reviews, catalogues entries and radio and television interviews. This section should not be confused with the publications category. Always list these in descending order with the most recent being at the top and naming the article title, author, publication details, pages, and date of publication or broadcast.
  • Residencies: List any arts residencies in which you have participated and remember that these should be separate from education. Always list these in descending order with the most recent being at the top.
  • Public Speaking: List any lectures, readings and keynote addresses you can mention it here. Always list these in descending order with the most recent being at the top.
  • Professional Affiliations: List any arts memberships you are a part of or any board you have served on. You can also list conference at which you have been an invited or featured guest but speaking at these events is listed elsewhere. “Professional Memberships” or “Professional Service” may also be used. Always list these in descending order with the most recent being at the top and naming the organization as well as your specific role.

HELPFUL TIPS

  • A CV should be easy to read, typed, and printed on quality paper. The paper should be white, off white or ivory in color. Font size should be no smaller than 10 pt. and should be a font that is easy to read (Arial, Times Roman, Helvetica, Palatino are good examples). Always proofread your CV for errors.
  • The headings or categories that outline your creative work will be most critical to catching the eye of the reader.

  • Don't oversell your work and always remember that less is more. Your CV should be neatly organized, and only include information pertinent to your artistic career. Be sure the headings and sub-headings are clear. They should stand out and can be bulleted, bold, underlined, or italicized.

  • The CV is more conventional than a resumé. It doesn't have an objective or a narrative profile so the emphasis is on content. The CV can also comprise several pages but probably shouldn't be longer than four or five Many artists have two versions: a long and a one-page short.
  • Every CV should detail your accomplishments, endeavours, knowledge and abilities but  should be tailored to your career. So, for example, a visual artist will have exhibition and commissions whereas a theatre artist would have productions and performance workshops. This is why we have included several templates (see examples below).
  • Some artists include resumé experience on their CV if it is relevant to their artist career. If you do this, isolate the experience to things such as teaching or jobs related to your field of art like technical experience or workshops you've given as an artist.
  • Consider using the heading of “selected". Whether or not you have a lot of exhibitions or productions, this heading has benefits as it allows you to weed out those works that are no longer relevant. If you don’t have a large body of work, it also works towards assuring the reader that they are looking at your most relevant history.
  • One of the best ways to write an effective CV is to see how other artists do it. There are many different practices and ways of organizing your information available online. Many galleries or artist’s post CVs on their website so they are easily accessible. Google is your friend.
  • Update your CV regularly. It's easier to apply for grants when you have your CV prepared and updated with your latest work. In this sense, your CV will always be changing and evolving with your development as an artist. You'll find yourself editing out old or irrelevant factors. You may want to keep copies of old CV so that you can keep track of the entirety of your body of work.

TEMPLATES

We've included these downloadable links to a series of CV Templates. These Templates are tailored to several arts disciplines and have been created as something to help get you started. As always, feel free to mix and match categories that will best suit the diversity of your artistic career:

Visual Arts CV Template
Fine Craft CV Template
Theatre/Dance & Performing Arts CV Template
Music Artist CV Template
Writing Artist CV Template
Media Artist CV Template
Community Arts/Arts Education Artists CV Template
Arts Management CV Template

**Citations in these templates have all been modeled off of the MLA Style Guide. For details about citation formats use the following LINK.

FURTHER WORK

For further tips on writing your CV please check out the following books and online resources:

Get it Right the First Time: An Introduction to Creating Your Artist Résumé by Susan Myers

How to Write an Artist's CV in 10 Easy Steps by The Practical Art World website

How To Write An Artist's CV When You Don't Have Much Or Any Professional Experience by The Art World website.