Writing an Artist CV
by Joss Richer
Most of artsnb programs require that grant applicants submit a curriculum vitae (CV). (Note that biographies are no longer accepted.)
What we’re actually looking for is an artist CV. What is in an artist CV, you ask? Well, that depends on your discipline, although there are certain general guidelines to keep in mind.
First, consider these questions:
- What’s the purpose of the CV?
- What am I applying for? Where am I applying?
- Who will read my CV? What do they need to know?
- What are my most important or impressive achievements?
- Are they relevant? If so, how do I make them stand out?
Most CVs should be:
- Selective – don’t try to present everything
- Concise – two or three pages maximum
- Relevant – adapt it to the purpose at hand
- Easy to read – use one font only, large enough
- Well organized – separate items logically
- Reverse chronology – start with the most recent item in each list
Artist CVs should include the following (order may vary):
- Personal / contact info – your name, address, email, tel., website
- Relevant education / training – degrees, diplomas, workshops
- Exhibitions / performances* – include dates and locations
- Media – if someone wrote about you (cite title, source and date)
- Awards* – including major grants with dates and amounts
- Dates and locations – always state when and where something happened
* If the list is long, only go back a few years. Don’t include every grant and award you ever received, or every exhibition and performance—be selective. You could also write something like “I received over 25 major grants, or participated in 20 exhibitions or performance in my career.”
Other items you could add to your artist CV, depending on the type of grant you’re applying for, include: teaching (where and when), curatorial projects, works held in collections, commissions, residencies, etc.
What not to do or include in your artist CV:
- Don’t submit a long rambling CV—three pages max.
- Don’t list irrelevant details
- Don’t overburden your CV with too much text—or make it too small
- Don’t use prose or narrative; bullets are better, quicker to scan
- Images of your work—these should appear elsewhere
- Photos of yourself—unless you are a performing artist, in which case it might be a good idea
Here’s an example of an artist CV
What if you have very little experience?
You might be an emerging artist, fresh out of school, or a late-comer to the art world with little to show for yet. In this case, take a look at this page.