How to Create an Artist CV to Bring in New Opportunities

how to create an artist cv

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An artist CV is one of the best resources you can have for getting more work. If you haven’t put one together yet, I’ll help you get started on the right foot – your next gig could depend on it!

Whether you do professional art part-time or full-time, you never want to put all your eggs in one marketing basket. An artist CV is a professional document that lists all your accomplishments and relevant skills to impress your next client.

I’ll help you learn the craft of artist CV writing so you can secure solo exhibitions, freelance projects, and more.

If you’re short on time, the key points we cover below are:

  • What is a Resume vs CV?
  • Artist CV Example
  • What Should My Artist CV Include?
  • What Should an Artist CV Not Include?
  • What is a CV and an Artist Statement?
  • 5 Tips For a Professional and Accessible Artist CV

What is a Resume vs CV?

An artist resume can look pretty similar to an artist’s CV since they both cover your work history. However, there are a few differences you need to know if you want to create an effective CV.

A Resume is a General Summary of Relevant Work History

An artist resume is just like any other resume – it’s a document that lists your most recent work experiences, relevant skills, and relevant links for the project you’re interested in.

While resumes are generally geared toward traditional part-time or full-time employee jobs, you can still land freelance projects with them. Below are a few best practices to keep in mind when crafting your resume:

  • Keep your resume between one to two pages long
  • Have your most recent and/or most relevant work history
  • List a few certificates, degrees, and/or additional skills at the bottom

A CV is a Summary of Accomplishments

While the resume is a little more straightforward, a CV is more well-rounded and celebratory – this is where you showcase the finest accomplishments in your art career.

CV is short for ‘curriculum vitae’, a Latin word that means ‘course of life’. While you don’t have to put down every little achievement you’ve ever made, you shouldn’t hold back. Your artist CV is where you can boast and celebrate what you’ve done over the years.

An artist’s CV not only helps in securing work but specific kinds of work such as:

  • Teaching art courses such as animation, illustration, or screenprinting
  • Holding presentations at universities, events, or conventions
  • Securing extensive, complex work such as art direction
  • Artist residency opportunities (CVs are especially helpful here)

Artist CV Example

It’ll help to see an artist CV example in action. Below is a sample showcasing what I’ll talk about below, which you can also use as an artist CV template for your own work.

artist cv example

artist resume example

artist's cv template

artist resume sample

What Should My Artist CV Include?

While your artist’s CV will be unique since no two artists have the same modern art career, there are a few common additions you should know about.

  • Basic Information About Who You Are

Until the reader has a good sense of who you are and can form a mental image of you, even the best artist CV can seem generic or sterile. Start your CV off with basic information such as your legal name, nickname, address, contact information, and birthday.

You can also link to other relevant sites or social media the reader may want to know about. Learning how to put together a strong portfolio is a skill you can easily carry over to your artist CV.

Before we dive into visual art, look below to see the simple way you can introduce yourself.

basic information about who you are

  • Educational Achievements

Your artist’s CV doesn’t just list your credentials in reverse chronological order but expands upon them. Any education you’ve received should be on here with a little elaboration.

Studio art courses in college, online art certificates, and degrees are all fair game here. However, your education doesn’t just have to be officially drawn out in a document. For example, if you attended an artist’s retreat for animations a few years ago, that’s a great educational achievement to add.

You can then add important information such as:

  • The name of the retreat
  • The teachers you studied under
  • A brief list of the skills you learned or polished

Below is a snippet from our fictional artist CV template on how you could showcase your education and what you learned from other artists:

educational achievements

  • Exhibitions (Solo and Group)

Have you ever had your art showcased at a gallery or featured at an art convention? Your visual artist curriculum vitae should include relevant and/or recent exhibition history (or all if you’ve only had a few).

Your first order of business is to separate your solo exhibitions from your group exhibitions. They’re both important, of course, but solo exhibitions are usually more prestigious since you’re the focus.

Best practices for your solo exhibition or group exhibition history, when you write an artist CV, include:

  • List the exhibition’s title first, then essential information such as the exhibition’s location, duration, and/or theme
  • If you exhibited with other artists, list artists you were featured with – you can prioritize big names or colleagues, whichever you feel is most helpful

Below is an example of how to display a solo exhibition or group exhibition in the art world.


  • Any Relevant Accomplishments

There are plenty of other accomplishments you can fill out in your artist CV that round out a reader’s knowledge aside from a solo exhibition or degree. Grants and awards are a fantastic way of showing the confidence institutions or schools have in furthering your career.

If you received a grant, award, or residency, the best practices of listing them in an artist CV are:

  • Listing a residency by the year, the residency name, and location
  • The name of a grant, its jurors, and grant givers’ name
  • The name of the award, year granted, and association (publication, collective, etc)

Below is another slice from our artist CV example for reference:

any relevant accomplishments

  • Collections or Publications

Publishing visual art is one of the most common ways artists get their foot into the door of the professional world. Many famous artists in the past gradually became better known for featuring their work on posters or in newspapers.

You can list any art collections or publications, such as digital or print, in your CV. Make sure to include information such as:

  • The name of the art collection, publication, website, or blog
  • The date it was published
  • The name of the art you published

Below is an example you can reference when putting your CV together.


  • Press Section

If you’ve ever been featured in the press, you’ve already got another great section to add to your artist CV. From artist interviews to press releases, these important additions showcase your ambition to get your work out there.

If you’ve ever had your work featured in an artist blog or in a dedicated artist social media page, you can also add that to your CV – social media is a popular way of spreading the word, after all.

Best practices for your press section are:

  • The title of the article (in quotes), the publisher, and publication date
  • The name of the blog, zine, or dedicated artist social media page
  • The art or series of art that was featured

When you write an artist CV, you’ll benefit from being detail-oriented. There could be smaller, yet no less important CV additions you’ve overlooked in your career so far.

Below is a press release sample for your curriculum vitae:

press section

  • Professional References

Last but not least, professional references are a vital aspect of showcasing your trustworthiness. When you’ve got people who will vouch for you, you’ve already put your best foot forward.

Don’t just put anyone’s name down as a reference – if you don’t get permission, the person may be confused when contacted for verification. Best practices for this section are:

  • Get permission from someone you’ve studied under or worked for in the past
  • Gather reliable contact info such as their legal name, title, gallery affiliation, and/or the work you did with them or the class you studied in
  • Established artists can add an extra air of trustworthiness, though it’s more than fine if they’re lesser known – just be mindful of any professional or educational details that could give you an edge

Below is a brisk sample for when you write an artist CV. Since these references are throughout the entire CV, the reader can already see their credentials and how the artist knows them:

professional references

What Should an Artist CV Not Include?

What you don’t do is just as powerful as what you do. Keep the following out of your artist’s CV to keep it brisk and professional.

  • Steer Clear of Fancy Graphics and Headshots

While an artist’s resume may benefit from having a unique border or a personal headshot, your CV needs to be as crisp as possible. Say away from any visual elements that could distract from your career history.

  • Earlier Amateur Exhibitions

Have you had more recent and prestigious exhibitions? Since your CV should showcase your best work, consider snipping earlier, amateur events out.

It’s not that these events don’t matter – you just want to make sure your CV is as impressive and focused as possible. A tiny studio art exhibition many years back that doesn’t reflect your skillset now can be set aside for your most recent, notable private collection.

  • Anything That’s Not Explicitly Professional

While featuring your paintings at your cousin’s house may have been a point of pride in your growth, it’s not a professional example. Make sure your CV is only filled with work that’s been verified or commended by schools, galleries, seasoned artists, and publications.

Remember that not everything in your CV has to be an award-winning edition from a prestigious institution. If you had your work published in an indie zine, that’s still a sign someone loved your work enough to promote their project with it.

Another example is if you were commended for your work in an event related to the visual arts, such as volunteering at a non-profit organization for teaching painting. While it’s not an award or a degree, it’s still related to your skill set and can be traced back to a professional institution.

  • Anything Not Related to Your Career and/or Niche

Keep your artist’s CV lean and mean – if information is not directly related to your career skillset or niche, leave it out. While you may be proud of that swimming medal you won in community college, it won’t matter to an oil painting gallery.

Now, this area can get a little gray. For example, if you have a background in biology and are creating an artist CV for an indie game about animals, that background could be useful here. Use your discretion and you’ll have a document that’s an effective cheerleader for your career.

  • Outdated Information

While it’s all right if your artist CV isn’t quite as up-to-date as your resume, it should still be pretty recent. Your career isn’t stagnant and who you were fifteen years ago will be pretty different from who you are today.

Some of the most obvious information that should be up-to-date is certification – with rare exceptions, an outdated certificate should be left out. If you’re actively renewing it and its information is relevant to the position, it’s fine to leave it in. Just make sure to bring up that you’re working on getting it renewed.

  • Inaccurate Information

While you may be tempted to stretch the truth in desperation, you’ll only cause problems down the road. Make sure your CV is as accurate and specific as possible.

For example, if you only featured two pieces at a group exhibition, don’t say you featured five or ‘several’.

What is the Difference Between a CV and an Artist Statement?

The artist’s CV and the artist statement’s key difference is a pretty gray area. While both represent your art career, they come at your growth from very different angles – one lengthy and professional, the other poetic and personal.

A CV is a Detailed and Professional Document

While both an artist CV and a statement involve discussing your career, the language is entirely different. Your CV is a professional and polished document listing achievements, awards, and publications in reverse chronological order.

While you can certainly link to your visual arts statement in your CV – such as your portfolio – it’s not the focus.

An Artist Statement is a Personal Introduction to a Body of Work

Although the CV is polished and buttoned-up, your artist statement is a highly personal introduction. This is where you share personal details such as your childhood, philosophies, and interests related to your body of work.

These statements often start with ‘I’, though you can also write in the third person. This artist statement can also change depending on whether it’s on your website or featured in a gallery, which may have its own writing requirements.

an artist statement
(Image Source)

5 Tips For a Professional and Accessible Artist CV

If you’re still wondering how you can make your artist CV stand out, I have extra tips you can use in your artist CV template.

Put Most Recent Information at the top

Whether you just got featured in group exhibitions or had your work bought by private collectors, add it to your CV as soon as possible. Putting the most recent information at the top makes it easy for readers to see your ambition and attention to detail.

If you don’t have particularly recent additions to add, don’t worry – as long as you commit to a reverse chronological order, it’ll appear professional.

put most recent information at the top
(Image Source)

Stay Away From Colorful Paper or Fonts

Since the function of your artist CV is to be skimmable and accessible, stay away from any distracting visual additions. While colorful fonts or splashy patterns may look nice, they could be hard to read.

There are useful resources online to help you with features such as color contrast so your CV is accessible.

Keep a Long Version and a Short Version

Sometimes you’ll be sending your artist CV to art professionals or juried exhibitions that are short on time. Keeping a long and a short version of the same CV will make everyone’s life easier.

Your short version should only have the most immediate and relevant information to the place you’re contacting. For example, if you want to work with a game studio on a new fantasy game, you can omit anything that isn’t directly related to the niche. This could look like keeping in a group exhibition at a fantasy convention, then omitting solo exhibitions in another industry.

Keep a Physical Print and Digital Version

This section is dependent on how much travel and in-person networking you do. If you like to visit prospective directors or galleries, keep a few physical copies of your artist CV on hand.

Make sure to go the extra mile and keep your CV in a folder so it doesn’t bend, wrinkle, or tear. People may not have one on hand, so that extra bit of thought can help you stand out in a sea of CVs and applications.

Be Creative About Other Relevant Skills That Could Benefit Your Artist CV

When you write an artist CV, you may be overwhelmed by all the professional jargon and best practices. However, you can still get creative about adding other relevant skills in the art world.

For example, let’s say you’re applying for a lengthy artist residency in another country. If you studied the native language of that country in university, that’d be a relevant and important skill to add.

An Artist CV is a Powerful Tool in Your Professional Career

Both experienced artists and less experienced artists struggle with putting together artist CVs. However, this tool is essential for everything from academic positions to getting more group exhibitions.

While a resume lists your recent work history and basic qualifications, a CV encompasses your career from the ground up. Everything from education to published works showcases your ambition.

If you need more help putting your best foot forward professionally, read our piece on the best web builders for your portfolio.

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