For creatives with enough determination and drive, there is no greater goal than making a livelihood out of their artwork. Working as a professional artist is a unique, exciting, and highly rewarding career path that gives artistic minds an opportunity to share their vision with the world.
Just as there is a process of creating a great piece of art, there’s a process to building a great art career. Just as every piece of art is unique, so is the career of any artist. A crucial element of making it as a professional artist is knowing how to gain a following and market yourself and promote your work.
There’s no one set path to making a successful livelihood out of your work as an artist, but there are certain strategic actions you can take to that will make presenting yourself to potential patrons much easier. These actions require putting together materials that you can take to galleries, museum boards, patrons, and companies to make sure you and your art stand out from the crowd. The most crucial of these materials for artists turning professional are:
- Artist Bio
- Artist CV
- Artist Statements
This short guide will take you through the process of putting together a bio, CV, and statements that are sure to elevate your platform as a professional artist.
The purpose of an artist’s bio is to connect an audience with you as an artist. A good bio will grab the attention of potential clients and give them an impression of what sets you and your art apart from the crowd. Your bio should include highlights of your art career and explain a bit about yourself as an artist. Here are some foolproof guidelines to keep in mind when creating your artist bio:
A short artist bio is preferable to a lengthier one, as it will make a greater impact and stick better with clients. If galleries or clients are sifting through multitudes of artist bios, their time and attention spans will be limited.
For this reason, you want to make sure you communicate as much as possible about yourself and your work as concisely as possible. Every sentence matters, and you should only include the most important highlights of your career, making sure to avoid superfluous information.
Potential clients will appreciate an artist bio that is not only informative but attractive too. If your artist bio is to be posted online, there are lots of free resources that even the most novice of internet users can harness to create impressive and professional websites. A clean, well-designed website where potential clients can check out your work and easily access your artist bio will ensure you and your work make the most professional impact.
A good artist’s bio will be impactful and memorable. A good way to achieve this is to have a strong hook in your opening line, making sure to grab your readers’ attention. As your bio needs to be read by a diverse audience of people, it’s best not to get too technical. Getting feedback from both artists and non-artists on your bio is a good way to ensure that it’s suitable for all audiences.
Artist bios are typically written in the third person and detail the intention and experience of the artist. Some artists also opt to throw in a bit about their personality, to add color and individuality to their bio. As each artist is unique, so should each bio be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t refer to other artists’ bios for stylistic inspiration.
An artist curriculum vitae is a resume that formally details the academic and professional experience of a working artist. This should include any formal post-secondary education, residencies, exhibitions, and awards or accolades that you have.
A reader of your CV should be able to quickly and clearly scan through the contents of your career and gain an immediate understanding of your previous professional experience. A well-organized CV will go lengths in convincing potential patrons that you are the right fit for the job or exhibition at hand.
It’s important to point out that presenting a resume as an artist is a practice far more common in the international market, and not as prevalent in the USA. For artists based in the USA, however, creating an artist CV may still be useful, especially if applying to international galleries, residencies, fairs, and exhibitions.
As a professional artist, the primary mode of communication between you and the public will be your artist statement. An artist statement is very concise and is used to position who you are as an artist. An artist statement answers the who, what, and why of your career as an artist. Who are you as an artist? What art do you create? Why do you make the art you do?
Before writing your statement, gather your portfolio and study it carefully. What do you see connecting your artwork? How do they reflect upon your perspective and intention as an artist? These are the central questions that should be answered in your statement. Before you write, you can check out statements written by other artists to get an idea of what’s appropriate to include, and different writing styles you can implement.
This short guide serves as an introduction to creating the perfect materials to accompany your break-out into the world of being a professional artist. With a unique and carefully crafted bio, CV, and statement, potential clients everywhere will be dazzled, not only by the art, but by the artist too!
Alex C. Porter is a career guidance expert currently working with CraftResumes. He has years of experience working with emerging and established professionals to ensure they maximize their potential in the jobs market. At the moment, Alex is lending his expertise to those navigating the professional art world.