Building Your Artist Resume

The topic of developing an artist resume has been coming up quite often in my conversations lately, so I thought it would share some of what I have learned.

Finding templates for the format of your artist resume can be found all over the Internet just by doing a simple "artist resume format" search, so I am going to focus on building-up your art related experience for your resume.
So how exactly do you find opportunities?
There are many different opportunities to build your artist resume, but below is a list of the things that I have personal experience with;
  • Teaching,
  • Shows at Galleries
  • Competitions and Juried Shows
  • Publications and Artist Interviews.

This is a very short list of possibilities, but I think it's a good starting point. What you choose will depend on your goals.

I started building my teaching experience by offering classes through my local craft store. It was free for me to use their space and I was completely in charge of the content and fees that I charged my students. I never had more than five students ever enroll at a time, but I was more interested in gaining the experience rather than making money at this point.

Community Colleges and local park districts are also other great places to offer classes.

I found that once I had a little experience teaching, I not only became more comfortable teaching, but finding other more lucrative or more "prestigious" teaching gigs through galleries became easier to come by.

Shows and Galleries
Approaching galleries is scary. It's still not one of my favorite things to do. I started out doing craft fairs, mostly because that was what I was familiar with. My mom did craft fairs throughout my childhood years so I grew-up a craft fair brat of sorts.
Craft fairs can be hit or miss. Some shows are awesome and far more are not. Generally speaking, in my experience, the more expensive  the show and the more urban the show the higher the attendance and the more money you are likely to make.  I have used Festival Network Online to find shows in my area. They have free lsitings, but you can also purchase the full list if it is something that you want to get into.

My advice would be to check out the show before you even apply. Or do a small inexpensive show just to see if you enjoy showing at them or just to build-up your resume a bit. Be fore warned that even the small shows are a TON of work.

I didn't start showing at galleries until I had a few craft shows under my belt and felt more confident about my work. This was due more my own insecurities than anything else, so if I could do it over again, I would start applying to galleries right away.

When applying to galleries you do need to be realistic. Don't expect to get into a high-end gallery right away. Most, if not all of the artists that these galleries represent have a impressive gallery record to begin with.  So start with the smaller, less known galleries and approach them.

Check out the galleries in your area and get to know the owners, or find a online list. Here in the Chicago area, I use the Chicago Artist Resource web page to find opportunities to show my work including teaching, publications and gallery shows.

Another option is showing through The Sketchbook Project. There is usually a small fee, but there also is not usually a jury process.

Competitions and Juried Shows
I don't do too many competitions mostly because they cost money to apply and I am not guaranteed a show; I have to be juried in. I do set aside a few dollars every year to do a couple of these types of shows in case I find one I am really interested in or if I haven't shown my work anywhere new in awhile.

I have found that local art centers and other art organizations are great places to begin. I started with the Beverly Arts Center here in the Chicago area. They were inexpensive to apply to and the competition was perfect for a beginner.

Publications and Artist Interviews
Craigslist has been where I have found a vast majority of these opportunities. I have found that many bloggers as well as University run publications and independent magazine writers will often advertise wanting art work for their publications or content such as artist interviews for their blog. Most often you don't get paid for these gigs, but they are a nice way to add to your artist resume and get your art seen by people you may not have otherwise reached. Make sure to check out the postings  in the major urban areas for the best opportunities.

If you want to go a little more mainstream and your work fits the genre, I would suggest the Somerset Studio publications. Again, you don't get paid unless you write an article for them , but you can submit your art work for publication.  Being published by a major magazine is a very nice and impressive addition to your resume.

Again, all of these suggestions are just starting points. I have not been paid by any of these companies that I linked to, they are just places that I have had success with. You may have other venues that have worked well for you and I would love to hear about them. Also, if you are interested in knowing when I find opportunities for showing work, let me know. I may start posting opportunities here on my blog as I find them if there is interest in this sort of thing.

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