Writing an Artist's CV

CV’s for artists are used to give galleries, critics and the public a quick, dispassionate overview of an artist’s career for reviews, websites, books or appraising an artist’s background. There are some simple conventions that all artists follow in writing a CV that makes it easy to compare artists when reading several different CVs. The main thing to keep in mind is to keep it simple and to the point. Several other pointers are:

  1. Make the CV/biography in one document so that readers don’t have to refer to several documents to see one artist’s career.
  2. The artist’s work should speak for itself so stick to the facts, avoid any value judgments like “his unique and colourful style”.
  3. CV’s are often copied and pasted into other documents for email, websites, books and exhibitions so avoid any formatting at all if possible. No columns, tabs, multiple spaces, words all in caps, quotation marks, or bold formatting. The only formatting needed is italics for exhibition names, article titles and prize names.
  4. Stick to one typeface for the entire document. Preferably something simple like Arial or Times Roman. Leave creativity for the art. The CV needs clarity.
  5. On a Windows PC selecting the entire document and pressing the Ctrl (Control) key and the Spacebar simultaneously will clear all formatting in a document.
  6. A simple to read, properly laid out CV, will influence a writer, reviewer or potential buyer positively about an artist. A fancy and creative layout is frustrating to read and might suggest that the facts by themselves are lacking in importance so formatting was used to enhance them.

Layout

The layout of the CV should conform to the following:

Artist’s name. Year and place of birth Year artist emigrated to present country (if required) Currently lives in City, State

Summary

Brief summary of artist’s background starting each line with the year from earliest to latest. This is the only time in a CV that listings go this way, elsewhere it will be from latest to earliest. This summary should include arts related education, significant milestones, influences and achievements. Keep this brief, perhaps no more than 12 lines at most.

Exhibitions

Solo Exhibitions From latest to earliest stating (in this order) Year of Exhibition, Name of Exhibition (in italics), Gallery or venue, City, State and Country (if not in artists home country)

Group Exhibitions Again staring with the year from latest to earliest stating (in this order) Year of Exhibition, Name of Exhibition (in italics), Gallery or venue, City, State and Country (if not in artists home country)

Awards

Year (from latest to earliest) Award name, Award Giver.

Publications

Artist Publications (Books solely on or featuring the artist). Name of Book (in italics), author, publisher, date of first publication and reprint dates.

Other Publications. (Books including the artist’s work as well as the work of other artists) Name of Book (in italics), author, publisher, date of first publication and reprint dates.

Commissions. Year (from latest to earliest), name of commission, commissioning body.

Collections. Public galleries and private collections holding the artist’s work listed by importance from most significant to lesser significance.

Reviews. Reviews of work, exhibitions and books etc. listed from latest to earliest with name of publication, title of review (in italics), writer, month and year of publication.

A short 50-80 word summary of the artist’s career written in third person paragraph form can be included at the end of the CV as often it might be lifted in its entirety for publications. This paragraph could also be expanded for indigenous artists who may need further explanation of their background including group affiliations and artistic themes.

Representation: List gallery/dealer name(s), with city, state and gallery web address