Assuming you want a nine to five job, you’ll make a résumé that highlights your work history, accomplishments, education and experience. As an artist hoping to gain exposure, make money, get published, etc. it is essential that you have a résumé as well. It should highlight your accomplishments (in related fields), show off your experience (that is specific to your art) and display your endeavors and knowledge in your art. Even if you don’t need to use it right away, building one now will give you something to pull from when you write a CV, short bio, or query letter.
Your artist résumé should be about one page. Some people prepare two versions of their résumé (short and long). Typically when e-mailing out a résumé you will want to select your shorter one so that your readers can scan it quickly. Your hard copy résumé should not appear cluttered and should have a clean look to it. Whereas (depending on what you’re applying for) it is okay to include some “artsy” elements, remember to always keep it professional.
The categories you include in your résumé will vary based on what field you are in and what you are using the résumé for. Here are some common elements you may want to include:
Name & Contact Information:
Name (or penname/screen name), address (if applicable), phone number, e-mail address (a professional one), website or blog address (if appropriate).
If it is related or if you just want to include it, then do so. This is not necessary on all artist résumés. Keep it simple: degree, school and year.
Honors and Awards (or Grants):
List all related recognitions, mentions, prizes, grants, etc. in a consistent format. Include the name of the organization and the date, in reverse chronological order.
List jobs you’ve held related to your field, classes you’ve taught or other experience you feel is related. This category does not necessarily need to be included on the résumé.
Press Coverage or Bibliography:
List any reviews about you or articles that you are mentioned in. Also include television, online or radio interviews in this section. List these things in a consistent format. Artists can also use this section to highlight where their work was used (example: if your song was used in a movie or your art appeared in a catalogue, etc.).
Professional Memberships or Affiliations:
Optional category that lists professional organizations you are a member or officer of, that relate to your field.
As a writer you may want to also include:
- Published work- list the title, date, and where it was published
- Classes or other specialized training (for freelance writers)
As a performing artist you may want to include:
- Classes and workshops or other specialized training
- Performances or productions and your role in them- list the date and location. A dancer may want to split this up by listing dance performances and choreography in separate categories. A singer/songwriter may split performances, song compositions and their recordings into separate categories.
As a media or visual artist you may want to include:
- A list of clients
- List of work on films, TV, etc.
In addition to traditional paper, an emerging popular format for you to consider is a video résumé:
A video résumé is a short video (as in a minute or so) of you talking about your qualifications for a specific job opportunity. Communicate your brand and image through your video. By loading it on YouTube, you will be able to link it to your web page or send the link to prospective employers via e-mail.
Also, remember to update your résumé regularly; you will be glad you did. It makes applying for freelance writing jobs, dance opportunities or auditions very simple. You’ll only have to click and send, instead of trying to remember everything you’ve done for the last eight months before sending it.
Here are some sample résumés for you to get ideas from:
Artsy Visual Artist
This is part two in a five-part series on creating your Brand Kit as an artist. Click here for part one, How to Build the Best Artist Business Card and What it Should Include.