One of the tips that can really serve artists well, no matter what level career they’re in, is having an up-to-date resumé or CV (curriculum vitae) that can be sent easily and quickly to someone for a commission and/or call-to-artist proposal. Your resume (along with your art) is a powerful tool in telling the story of your art career to potential new galleries and considerations for awards like our Art Comes Alive's (ACA) Lifetime Achievement Award or Emerging Artist Award.
Now you may be wondering what a CV is and which of the two is better to have. There are a few differences between them, so here’s a quick-glance chart to give you a general idea.
The difference between a resume and CV
CV (Curriculum Vitae)
Brief - resumés are usually no longer than a page.
Longer - CVs are sometimes two pages, but usually no longer than three pages.
Focus – contact information, objective, work history, general skills, and education.
Focus – contact information, education, work history, awards, publications, grants/fellowships, professional associations.
If you already have one or both of them, and you’re updating them once or twice a year, then you’re golden, but if not, then there’s no time like the present to create it, and here are 5 tips to writing an unforgettable and no-hassle one. Keep in mind as you read these points that a resume needs to be consistent, concise, and clear and easy to read to have any impact.
1. Find a resume template that suits you and your style.
If you find yourself staring at a blank screen, and you don’t know where to begin, there’s help. Word processing programs such as Microsoft Word have templates you can download and use. You choose the format you like, and from there just fill in the information based on your background and history. There are also resumé and cv-building apps for your phone if you prefer that route.
Many artists post their CVs or resumés publicly online. Taking a few minutes to research how a few of your favorite artists have developed their CVs or resumés will save you some time, and it will provide you with a few ideas on how best to showcase your own work.
2. Keep your resume simple and organized.
SAVE SPACE ON YOUR RESUME BY LISTING OUT EMPLOYMENT HISTORY, EDUCATION AND ACHIEVEMENTS
You don’t have the time to write paragraph upon paragraph, and readers don’t have the time to read it. That’s not how CVs and resumés are supposed to function. Your resume should really only be a page long. So …
- a simple list, …
- bulleted or tabbed, …
- is a perfect way to …
- organize your work history …
- and achievements. Voila!
CHOOSE THE RIGHT FONT SIZE AND SPACE FOR CONSISTENCY
I totally get it, as creatives, we crave variety and bold color selection, but this is the one time where keeping it simple is preferred. It's so important to limit yourself to two fonts, and keep it an appropriate size so that your resume is easy to read and there is enough white space on the page. Also, keep style features like italics, underling, and bolding to a minimum.
3. Use action words on your resume.
Use action verbs to pack a punch and power the reader through to the end. More satisfied readers are more likely to remember you and your work rather than an unsatisfied reader who had to wade through the unnecessary fluff of too many adjectives and adverbs.
4. Maximize your achievements.
Ultimately, you want to sell the fact that you’re capable of creating that piece of art, so if you’ve won awards or received recognition or honors related to that, then make sure to add them to your CV or resumé. A simple list (refer to #2) with the award name, awarding organization, and date awarded is usually sufficient.
5. Proof your resume twice over!
DON'T TRUST SPELLCHECK WHEN EDITING YOUR RESUME
This is so critical. Be sure to thoroughly read and re-read your resume to look for grammatical or spelling errors before sending it along. A common mistake when editing anything is letting the computer do it for you. Spellcheck helps spot and correct obvious typos, but it misses a handful of common errors like word mix-ups.
TAKE A BREAK AND PRINT IT OUT
While a day break is ideal, we understand that deadlines are deadlines and artists are busy. So give yourself at least an hour break from the time you write your resume to the time you edit it.
Printing your resume is another way to get a "fresh set of eyes" for editing. Your eyes tire of looking at a screen and become lazy. This is when overlooked errors are the most likely to happen.
Reach out to a close family member or friend and ask them to proofread your resume and get their feedback.
Bonus tip: For most commissions or calls to artists, chances are likely that you will also need a cover letter, but again, there’s no need to start from scratch. Find a cover-letter template you like in whatever word-processing program or phone app you want to use, and write the letter based on the information needed for that job. Then you can save and revise it for future jobs.
The take away on how to write an unforgettable resume.
A well-put together and well-written resume is a snapshot of your most recent career activities. With all the tools and apps out there, you have technology on your side to help you create an unforgettable CV and resumé. From there, all you have to do is update it periodically as you complete commissions. But also remember to not let technology get the best of you. It's best to proofread and get real-time feedback for the best results.