As an artist, your CV (curriculum vitae) is a comprehensive record of all of your accomplishments.
In addition to all your exhibitions, awards, residencies and education, your CV is a way for art professionals to get a sense of your career trajectory and can be the deciding factor when a gallerist decides to offer you a show or when a collector considers acquiring your work.
Artist CVs follow a relatively formulaic process, but there can be some variations depending on whether or not you're active in academia, participate in film screenings, or also moonlight as a curator, for example. Simply stated: not every artist CV will look exactly the same.
Also important to note is that your artist CV is not a standard resume and does not need to fit on one or two pages. Generally speaking—the longer an artist’s career is, the longer their CV will be. Case in point: this example from Gagosian Gallery of artist Douglas Gordon’s CV is 32 pages long and that’s only his exhibition history. Gordon’s bibliography is a separate 12-page PDF.
That being said, even if your entire artist CV fits on one page, that’s ok! Everyone has to start somewhere.
Here is a step-by-step guide to writing an artist CV that aligns with industry gold standards.
Let's start with some examples of a typical artist CV standard outline
If you are a practicing artist, but not an academic, then this example is for you.
Take a look at the following artist CV examples written by established art galleries:
Now that you’ve seen a few different examples, it’s clear that they follow a general outline, which we’ve listed below. Start by writing down these subheadings and then filling them in. Try to remember everything that would apply to each subheading. Even a weekend residency deserves to be listed! Always order each subheading’s list in reverse chronological order, so that the most recent date is listed at the top.
Use this general artist CV outline as a jumping off point.
- Born (when, where)
- Lives and works (where)
- Solo Exhibitions
- Group Exhibitions
- Notable Collections
- Press / Bibliography
Now, let's take a deeper dive into what to include in each section of your artist's CV
Let's get into what to include in each section of the outline above. Always start with your full name, year and city, and state/country in which you were born, followed by where you are currently based (lives and works in…). For example:
Born 1970 in Miami, Florida, USA
Lives and works in Denver, Colorado, USA
List your education at the top of the CV
Next, list your education credentials, starting with the most recent degree(s) earned. Depending on your formatting preferences, either put the range of the years you attended said school or just the year that you graduated. Only list your secondary and graduate schools. If you have no formal art education, you can still list your school(s) and years attended.
Year - Year MFA University of Ohio, City, Ohio
Year - Year BFA School for the Visual Arts, New York, NY
Next, list out all your solo and group exhibitions
Exhibitions should ideally be divided into Solo and Group subheaders. However, if you only have one or two solo exhibitions, you can list all your exhibitions together and denote solo exhibitions by writing [solo] after the exhibition line. If you choose to combine solo and group exhibitions, writing “Selected Exhibitions” is a nice touch, but a personal choice.
The typical order should be:
Year Title of the exhibition (in italics), venue name, venue location
The exhibition title should always be listed first. If you need to mention a curator or other artists featured in the exhibition, put those details after the title or after the venue name.
If you participate in art fairs, they can be listed here too, especially if you don’t have that many gallery shows and fairs can fill out the section a bit, i.e.:
Year Art fair name, with Gallery XX (if applicable), fair location
Then, list any residencies, awards, or grants you have received
The categories of Residencies, Awards & Grants can be listed in any order, or even combined (like solo and group exhibitions), but dates should still be listed in reverse chronological order. The only details that need to be included are the year, name, any important jurors, and location (if applicable).
Year Name of residency, location
Year Name of the award, foundation name, location (if applicable)
Year Name of the grant, jurors (if applicable), granting-foundation name, location (if applicable)
***Sometimes, this section is listed together with education details, as with this example (that’s a personal choice and can be very effective in grabbing the reader’s attention, but only if the award, residency, etc. is of a certain caliber or prestige).
Add any notable collections in which your work belongs
Notable collections should include all museum collections and corporate or major private collections that have acquired your art. These can also be listed as “permanent collections,” or “public collections” if the list is only museum or institutional collections.
Collections should be listed in alphabetical order.
Collections might also be listed last in some artist CVs (i.e. after the bibliography), such as Sanford Biggers' CV via Marianne Boeksy Gallery.
Consider including a press and bibliography section at the end
This is likely the most contested section of the artist's CV in terms of formatting. With the rise of online-only publications, the bibliography has—in some cases—been completely replaced by a list of hyperlinks. Other artists may list their catalogues and monographs separately from periodicals or articles to make their bibliographies more digestible.
However you choose to list your press is ultimately up to you; but, we recommend the following format based on the best practices of library and archival science:
Author last name, first name, “Article title” (in quotes), Publication title (in italics), Publisher (if applicable), publication date, pages (if applicable)
If the entry is longer than one line, the second line can be indented.
You have now completed your artist's CV!
Once you've started your CV, make sure to save it so it can be easily accessed and updated.
With Artwork Archive, you can store all your important art documents, along with your CV in one place so that you can access your CV at a moment's notice. You can also record your exhibitions, and gallery history so that you can easily build an exhibition history and record the provenance of each artwork.
Artwork Archive isn't just a place to catalog your artwork and get organized. Along with documenting all the details of your artwork, you can publish them on the Public Profile and include your CV on that online portfolio as well.
You can learn more with a free 14-day trial and see how Artwork Archive can help get your art career organized and grow your art business.
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