Writing a CV that is attention-grabbing, memorable and exudes the perfect combination of creativity and professionalism can be tricky. We’ve put together this guide to help you write an artist CV that can win you those grants, exhibitions, and other art opportunities.
What is this opportunity all about?
To create a successful CV, you must think strategically. That starts with understanding the specific purpose of your CV and the people who will be reviewing it. Once you know that, you can create a list of skills to emphasize and write a CV that showcases your talents, experiences, and reasons why you deserve to be selected.
Who will read your CV?
Do your best to determine who is going to be reviewing your CV. Make a list of what their priorities will be and the details about your experience that will most resonate with them. Consider creating a slightly different version of your CV to be targeted to each potential selection authority.
Consider which headings to use
Your CV is a document that summarizes your work and academic experience, skills, and education. You can adapt which headings you include to fit the opportunity you are applying for.
Keep the following headings in mind, then modify them to fit the position:
Include formal education, courses, mentorship programs that directly link to your art career.
List your specific artistic skills and areas of expertise.
Notable projects and commissions
Write about the projects you initiated or took part in. If there are any notable commissions in your career, list them as well.
List any exhibitions you took part in. Put the most important ones first, especially if you’ve had any solo exhibitions.
Include any artist-in-residence programs you have attended.
Grants & Awards
If you won any grants or awards, make sure to write what projects they were for, who awarded you, and, for grants, the result of your work.
Include any publications, like interviews, features, or your own published texts.
List any institutions or private collectors that own your work. Private collectors are usually listed as “Private Collection,” followed by their location
Relevant work experience
If you had any formal employment in the art sector, tell them about the positions you’ve held.
Include references from your old professors, mentors, renowned artists, or former employers.
What if you lack experience?
Maybe you are just starting out and don’t have that many experiences yet. Don’t worry; you can still build an attractive CV.
Focus on the experiences you do have. Maybe you have published your own zine, been part of an underground exhibition, or have another independent project under your belt? With the right wording, experiences like these will showcase your drive and passion. You can also include forthcoming exhibitions and projects, and use design tricks like making the text margins larger to fill out your CV.
Have evidence for each statement you make
You must include evidence of every declarative statement that you make. Remember that you are summarizing your skills and experience, so show real-life proof of your claims.
Alice Willis, a resume specialist at Supreme Dissertations, explains it like this: “Capable of creating works of art that reflect the values of the West End district. Evidenced by my being appointed artist in residence at the West End Museum of contemporary arts.”
Include your artist statement
Your artist statement is the tool you can use to communicate your artistic vision and stand out as uniquely qualified. Your statement should be informative and show enthusiasm for the opportunity.
Keep it short
In general, it’s okay for your CV to be longer than the standard, single-page resume. Still, that doesn’t mean the document should be needlessly long. It should serve as a brief reference that those reading can use to recall your most important attributes. Unless you have a very compelling reason to make it longer, stick to no more than two pages.
Why is this important? A rambling CV indicates that you struggle to identify and set priorities, edit your work, and make a clear point. Be ruthless in your editing choices.
Focus on readability and use an impactful tone
Make sure your CV is informative, easy to read, and neatly organized:
- Choose the right font: Times New Roman, Arial, or Helvetica are good options.
- Use enough spacing: 1.0 or 1.15 is sufficient for line spacing and double lines after subheadings
- Add bullet points
As you write your CV, consider that the person reading it will draw conclusions about you from the way that you write. Here are some things you can do to improve your tone:
- Use action words
- Eliminate adverbs and ‘fluff’ words
- Avoid passive voice
- Be concise
- Be careful about jargon
Create visual appeal
You might be tempted to infuse your CV with some of your creativity. You absolutely should do this. For example, if you specialize in design, choose an attractive color scheme, or even design your own resume template. At the same time, be careful. Subtlety is key and will impress people more than an over-the-top CV. Give visual hints to your creative skills, but prioritize professionalism and readability.
Don’t forget editing and proofreading
This may seem like an obvious step, but it’s easy to overlook if you are busy writing and editing multiple versions of your CV.
Treat it like a living document
If you host your CV on your website or portfolio, keep it up to date. As you finish different projects, gain experience, or reach certain milestones, add those to your CV, and remove out-dated ones.
Link your portfolio
In addition to your contact information and links to your professional social media accounts, include a link to your portfolio. This will give any manager one-click access to examples of your work.