How to Write an Artist’s CV in 10 Steps

A CV or curriculum vitae is an overview of your artistic professional history and achievements. Although it looks similar to a resume, it contains different elements which are only related to your artistic professional practice.

One mistake emerging artists often make in writing their CVs is trying to oversell their work. Less is more. Your CV should be neatly organized, and only include information pertinent to your artistic career.

What should you include on a CV? Here is where how to compose one in 10 steps:

1. Personal details.

Often, more established artists will keep it simple. This is because their CV is usually referenced as a biography rather than a resume.

Damian Hirst (b. 1965, UK)

However, you can include contact information if you are sending out your CV to galleries in the hopes that they will reply:

Damian Hirst, (b. 1965, UK)
info@damianhirst.com | http://www.damianhirst.com | 604.555.1234

Either of these formats is appropriate for an artist’s CV. Just keep in mind that you should only include your website if it directly relates to your artistic practice.

2. Education.

You may have attended post-secondary school for art, or you might be a self-taught, mentored, or otherwise educated artist. Generally speaking, this section of a CV relates to institutional education specifically in the field of visual arts. If you do have post-secondary education in the arts field, include the school(s), the year(s) that you graduated, and the degree(s):

University of British Columbia, Master of Fine Arts, 2009
Emily Carr University, Bachelor of Fine Arts, 2005

If you do not have a degree in the visual arts field, fear not. This section of the CV is not a pre-requisite for exhibitions or gallery representation. The only thing to note is that you should not put down any other type of education (high school graduation, degree in business management), unless it very directly relates to the artwork that you make. Leaving this section off of your CV is perfectly acceptable.

3. Exhibitions

Beginning with your most recent, you should list your exhibitions in a manner similar to this:

2011     Title of Show, Museum of Modern Art, NY
2010    I’ve been showing a lot lately, Galerie Espace, Montréal

If you have a large number of exhibitions, you can split them into two or more categories: solo exhibitions, group exhibitions, and even duo exhibitions. This helps define in what capacity your work was shown (you don’t want to undersell your solo show at the MoMA.)

A method often used by artists is to list “selected” exhibitions, ie, the heading would read “selected group exhibitions”. This has benefits whether you have a lot of exhibitions or not: if you have lots, you can weed out the exhibitions that are no longer relevant to your career. If you don’t have a lot of exhibitions, you are assuring the reader that they are not looking at a short list, but rather your most relevant history.

4. Bibliography

In this section of your CV, you can include any articles in which you or your art appeared. If it is an article, it should include the author, title, publication, volume, publication date, and page number:

Coupland, Douglas: “Why I Love This Artwork”, Canadian Art Magazine, vol. 12, February 2011, p. 55-60

If your work appeared on the cover of a publication, you can format your information like this:

Canadian Art Magazine, Cover, vol. 12, February 2011

If writing about your artwork or your artwork itself appears in a book, the formatting should read:

Schwabsky, Barry (Compiler), Vitamin P: New Perspectives in Painting, Phiadon Press 2004, p. 78

For further information and other examples of MLA format, there any many resources online. As an example, here is SFU’s citation guide for MLA style.

5. Collections

Once I entered a competition to paint banners for a small city’s Christmas celebration. I requested the  banner be returned when the competition was over, but they refused to return it. Now I put “City of _____” under the public collections section of my CV. We both win!

Generally, the “collections” portion of your CV is to list public institutions which own your artwork. This could be museums, corporate collections, or even municipalities or agencies. They can simply be listed under the heading collections:

The Vancouver Art Gallery
The Canada Council Art Bank
The Colart Collection

If you only have artwork in private collections and you wish to include this section on your CV, you should not list the name of  the collector unless 1. they are well-known as important collectors of art, and 2. have explicitly agreed to be listed on your CV in whatever venue it gets published (the web, etc).

If  several people own your artwork in private collections and you would like to note that, you can list them like this:

Private collection, Calgary AB
Private collection, Vancouver, BC

Just don’t go to overboard with the list– if you really have lots, you’ll look more understated and impressive by inserting something like this:

Works held in private collections in Canada, the United States, Germany, and New Zealand.

6. Texts

If you have any published writing relating to either your own practice or that of others, you can list it here in proper MLA format:

“This Artwork is Awesome”, Awesome exhibition catalogue, Vancouver Art Gallery, 2006.

The above points are the most common and usually the most notable elements which artists include on their CVs. However, depending on your practice, there may be a number of other professional and artistic points of interest to list. Here are some examples:

7. Teaching

This is a space to list any teaching positions you may have had, either as a faculty member or as a guest lecturer or speaker. You should only include those related specifically to your practice or to visual arts:

2009, Guest lecturer, Emily Carr University
2007, Sessional instructor, SFU

8. Curatorial projects

If, as well as being an artist you have also undertaken curatorial projects (as so many artists seem to do now), you can list them simply as the exhibition itself, or, add on a brief explaination:

2011, “Drawings”, Richmond Art Gallery
2010, “Paintings”, Or Gallery, co-curated by Damian Hirst

9. Awards and Grants

Some artists choose to list awards and / or grants they have received. If you decide to include this, the list should all be specifically related to your artistic practice, unless it is extremely notable, such as the Nobel Peace Prize:

2011, Canada Council grant
2010, BC Arts Council grant

10. Residencies

Artist’s residencies you may have attended are good to include on your CV as they show a dedication to your practice and to your professional development:

2010, Studio residency, School of Visual Arts, New York

NOTES

One of the best ways to start writing your CV is to see how other artists do it. In addition to the categories listed above, there are many different professional practices or ways of organizing your information. Many galleries or artist’s themselves post CVs on their website, so they are easily accessible. A few to check out:

Catriona Jeffries Gallery artists
Georgia Scherman Projects artists
Trepanier Baer artists
Vancouver artist Evan Lee

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73 thoughts on “How to Write an Artist’s CV in 10 Steps

  1. thia article only applies to artists with sufficient experience and various accomplishments such that this article would provide no value, with no usefulness or relevance to artists who are seeking advice on creating a resume.

  2. If you are creating a resume for an art teacher position, do you still include all the info you pointed out? Or do you create more of a standard resume (objective, job history, etc.)? Do they want to see if your work has been in galleries, etc?

    • Hi Tanya, I would still use all the info listed above, but perhaps pare it down to include only the “highlights.” Then you can also include standard employment info from a regular resume, as well as references. Cheers!

      • Thanks for the info. Also, should I put experience first, then the highlights of CV? Also, is their a max for number of pages, because I know on my standard employment resume you shouldn’t have more than 2 pages.

      • Hi Tanya,
        Apologies for the delayed reply! I agree experience first and then CV highlights. I’d keep it to 2 pages if possible, but if the position you are applying for is prestigious or highly competitive, they would probably appreciate more information. For example, the CVs of many scholars are pages and pages long!

  3. Pingback: Emerging as an Artist | Liz Ruest

  4. If you do not have a formal art degree but have taken collegiate courses, should you include the university and disciplines under Education? I was originally enrolled in a 4 year art program and due to a significant change in circumstances had to move and was forced to complete a 2 year general degree. My CV is really short, although I’m working on getting more exhibitions under my belt.

  5. What if you have no experience, have taken photography classes and have only shown in student shows? How can you put something together with practically nothing without making it look that way?

    • Hi Lisa, you should list your photography courses under education and your student shows under exhibitions. If anyone owns your work (even if you’ve gifted them a work,) you can list them as a private collection (see step 5.) Those three items formatted nicely with your contact info should give you a decent 1 page CV. Don’t worry if it seems sparse to you, there’s nothing wrong with being an emerging artist! Also remember most people will look at your artwork before they look at your CV ;)

      • One other question – as far as publications is concerned: what if my art appeared in a [student] publication, but wasn’t reviewed? The book appears every spring and consists of photos of various students’ work. Should I put that on a CV or leave it out?

  6. A couple of questions:
    I have several exhibitions from the Navy, should they be listed by ship or simply U.S. Navy with home city and year?
    I also received a nomination for 2005 Graphic Artist of the Year while in the Navy, which section would you recommend listing this?

  7. Hi Michael, for your exhibitions, I think you should list U.S. Navy, the ship, as well as home city and year. Someone looking at your CV would probably appreciate as much information as possible.

    For your nomination (congratulations, by the way!) you can list that under a heading called “awards.” You could format it something like this:

    2005, Nomination, Graphic Artist of the Year, US Navy.

    I hope that helps :)

  8. just saying thank you. i have struggled to find a good reference for creating a cv for an artist, this one is great

  9. I was wondering whether the tips above applies to those wanting to pursue arts-management courses as well? . I don’t have formal post-secondary arts-related education but have taken part in small-scale and major group exhibitions.

    • Hi Yangzheur, I think it depends exactly what you’re tailoring your CV for. Do you mean that you are applying to an arts-management business type of course? If so, look closely at their requirements. Are they asking for an artist’s CV? If so, the information about would be applicable to you. If they are asking for a resume, and if you feel your participation in the exhibitions are relevant to the focus of the program, you could add those to your resume as professional experience. I hope that helps!

  10. Great Advice! My sister is struggling and I am trying to help in any way. I am not an artist so all the advice helps! Can I send you her CV so far?

  11. Thanks for the information. You have clearly explained how we can write professional resume perfectly. There is one option to create perfect CV is to use resume templates. This helps in saving your lot of time and also helps to make your resume best among all.

  12. Wow, This is wonderful. I am trying to take the information from my regular resumé and crate a CV for graduate school applications. Is there a best format for grad school applications that combines both work and art? Also, I am challenged by how I should add a competition (the only one I have to put on the CV) that was through Creative Quarterly: The Journal of Art and Design, Issue 18, which is a print and web journal. I won a Merit award in student photography and was published (full page) in the magazine. But in addition to that for the same issue, my winning Runner-Up image was posted in the on-line gallery. Here’s what I have written. The formatting did not carry over with a copy and paste function. Please imagine that the journal title is underlined not to include the words, Volume Five, Number Four. Can you tell me if it is correctly entered? This is so awesome! Thank you!

    Competitions:
    New Talent Merit Winner-Student Photography. Creative Quarterly: The Journal of Art and Design, Issue 18. Volume Five, Number Four. Spring 2010. 64. Print

    Runner-Up-Student Photography. “Online Gallery: CQ 18.” Creative Quarterly: The Journal of Art and Design, Issue 18. Volume Five, Number Four. Spring 2010.
    http://www.cqjournal.com/gallery18.html. Web

    Forgive if this post hows up twice. My laptop is being a pain right now.

    • Hi, please forgive me for my delay in replying!

      I think you should choose what elements you need from your work resume and which from your art, and combine them as you see fit based on the requirements of your application. Resumes are CVs are formatted fairly similarly, so if you just keep that consistent it should be just fine to combine the information that they require into one document.

      Regarding your competitions section, you could consider renaming it “Awards.” Even if you technically received runner-up, it still is appropriate. I think your formatting works well.

      Hope that helps :)

      New Talent Student Photography Award,√

      • The information you’ve shared is very helpful. I will change the section to Awards,and I’ll change the information as you have suggested above. I really appreciate you! Thank you very much.

  13. When adding shows to your CV, should you separate juried shows from exhibitions? Does it matter and how should you separate them? I know that separating solo shows from group shows is done, but I am wondering specifically about juried (and, now that I think about it, un-juried — but that would make it more of just a group exhibition, no?) shows. Thank you.

    • Hi Lisa,
      If you want to note that certain shows were juried, I would just put a note at the end of those entries. For example:

      Group exhibitions
      2013: “Portraits” at the Downtown Art Gallery (juried)
      “Landscapes” at West Art Gallery
      “Abstracts” and East Art Gallery (juried)

      I think if you were to separate juried shows into their own section, it could get too confusing for a reader.

      Hope that helps!

  14. Hi! Thanks so much for this CV advice, v helpful! I have a question aswell. Would you include web-based magazines under “bibliography”? And in that case, how would you write it?

    • Hi Filippa,
      If you would like to include web-based magazines or publications on your CV, go ahead. You can list them along with the other items in your bibliography, and just put ” (online) ” or similar at the end of the listing.

      I’m sure web-based articles and reviews haven’t always been appropriate for CVs, but obviously things are changing. Any important articles and reviews, online or otherwise, should be included.

      Hope that helps!

      • Thanks very much for your help! Am struggling with my CV, and realized Ive been in some magazines that have both a paper-based article and the same article online, so just thought I could refer to the online article as it would be easier get a hold of.

  15. Thanks so much for your help with this! If I had a collaborative piece in a group show in a museum, how do I indicate that I was one of a number of people who produced the piece, or do I need to?

    • You could list it like this:

      2013, Group Show, Museum of Modern Art (artwork in collaboration with Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollack)

      or if you don’t want to list the other artists (there’s too many, or you just want simplicity), you could simply put:

      2013, Group Show, Museum of Modern Art (collaborative artwork).

      Hope that helps!

  16. Hi,
    If you show and sell in artist markets do they go in the Exhibitiions section? Should they be in a separate section ie; Markets. Many of the markets I have done over the past year were juried.
    Thank you.
    Leslie

    • Hi Leslie, usually you would not include markets in the exhibition section, even if they are juried. You could include them in their own section if you would like to include them on your CV, but I would say only do this if you are submitting your CV for commercial purposes, ie applying to a different market.

  17. Thank you for this, I had done mine like a job CV until I found your post. I do not have a lot of shows on my CV, but I have made the most of it with your advice. Thank you.

  18. Hello and thank you for the information you’ve shared. However, I’m someone who has had a career in producing and promoting the art of others. I recently found my own ‘voice’ and am trying to establish myself. My work is abstract photography and I’ve been approached for some rather large projects in Saudi Arabia, here in Los Angeles and in NYC. I’ve had an article written on me by a design magazine. I do have work in private collections in London, New York, Jacksonville, Dallas, New Orleans, Provincetown and Los Angeles, as well as shows in a couple of smaller galleries here in Los Angeles, but I can’t seem to land gallery representation. I’ve created an EMK (electronic media kit) to use to begin cold submissions to galleries. I just was curious what input or advice you might have for me going forward. I appreciate your time and attention. Robert Madden

    • Hi Robert,
      I would suggest, if you haven’t already, researching the mandates or programs of galleries before submitting. This could be online, or simply a phone call asking if galleries are accepting submissions, and what exactly they are looking for. Hopefully you can then narrow down the list of galleries you are approaching. Of course, acquiring gallery representation is not easy for anyone. Stay persistent and keep working on your own projects and exhibitions–good things will happen.
      Cheers :)

  19. Hello,
    I have attended some workshops by some well known artists. Should I include this under education or leave it off the CV

  20. Thank you so much for this. Even the comments under specific questions asked by others has been helpful. I appreciate your efforts.

  21. Hello,

    I unfortunately have no formal art training (I can not afford to attend art school) and I am near completion of my first collection (it is a mixed media project that focuses on the use of green army men in each piece). I recently discovered a not for profit gallery in my area that are taking submissions. I have a few pieces that I want to submit, and I have been racking my brain on what to place in my resume since I have not sold any work, presented it anywhere, I have yet to place any work on a website. Could you please assist me? Thank you in advance.

    I also would like to ask if it is strange for an artist to work on a political body of work (as my toy soldier piece is), and then jump to a humorous body of work, and back to something political in nature, and anywhere in between? I can not think of any artist that have done that. I always make notes of ideas for bodies of works that I’d like to create (many tend to be of a conceptual nature), and I have realised that many of my ideas don’t fit into a mold that would categorize me as a person making a particular type of work. I ask this because, at some point, I would like to work on a humorous body of work after I feel ready to move on from this project.

    Thank you

  22. Hi once again,

    Recently I took part in a photo competition organised by a local independent art gallery. I didn’t win first prize but I was one of the runner-up(finalists). Can this be included in my CV? If so under which (specific) category?

  23. What a fantastic resource. Thank you! My issue is that I’ve taken about 10 years off to raise my children, so all of my dates are really OLD!! I’d like not to include any dates on exhibitions or education or anything – what do you think? I feel like I am still emerging, and yet the dates would say otherwise (ie: undergrad in 1985-1991, grad school in 1993/94, etc…)

    • You could list them under the heading “Publications”

      The format beyond that is up to you, but for an example you could do something like:

      1997, “Michael Lukacsko” published by Mandala Art.

      If there are any essays or authors, you could list them also.

      Hope that helps!

  24. Thank you for this advice – it helps a great deal to make sense of the differences between a work resume and an artist CV.

    I do have one question – is it ok to mix media on a single CV? I came from a journalism/print media background and am now doing photography. Can I list my “Images of Men and Women in Advertising” Pop-Culture presentation and my piece on Lollapalooza on the same CV as my photography exhibit?

    Thanks again!

  25. Thank you so much for putting this together. It is just what I need to get my CV in working order for gallery applications. I have been doing solo exhibits for a number of years, but have never had the courage to try to break into the world of gallery showings. The part about the CV always had me worried. Now I know what I need to do. :)

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