Building an Artist’s CV

Just like any other career in any other industry, an artist needs a curriculum vitae (CV). Like a bio or statement, it’s obligatory. Here’s how to build one.



ABOVE: My Booth at the 52nd Annual Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition

Just like any other career in any other industry, an artist needs a curriculum vitae (CV).

Most juried competitions and exhibitions require one, as do galleries. This could prove difficult, if not intimidating, to a self-taught artist without an exhibition record. It needn’t be.

With time, just about anyone can build a CV. The key is to start small and to recognize that you probably won’t get into the bigger shows until you’ve been around the block a few times.

How do you build an exhibition record from scratch? Here’s how I did:

My first show was called an ‘Art Walk.’ Most local business associations have something of the sort and really, the only requirement is that you too be local (or at least be willing to travel). These are better than showing your work alone in a cafe or bar because they give you the opportunity to talk to other artists – you should always talk to other artists.

By participating in the above show, I learned of a couple websites where curators, galleries and art associations post calls for submissions. In the Toronto area, I use Akimbo and Instant Coffee (both have postings for all of Canada). If you’re outside of Canada, ask around.

Once online, I scrolled through the submissions and waited for appropriate calls to come up. Many shows are juried and have very specific requirements but, you will likely come across a few that simply ask you to drop your work off and pay a nominal fee. Not only are these guaranteed shows, they often take place at good galleries and include opening night receptions – you should always go to these receptions.

Another boost to my CV came from joining an artists association. Some are hard to get into, but others only require a membership fee. Not only do these organizations provide lots of useful information and networking possibilities, they often hold group exhibitions. If you’re a member, you’re pretty much guaranteed a spot in one of their shows.

As I met other artists, I asked them if they had a website and/or business card. Most did, and I was able to view their CV’s and learn of juried shows, galleries and other venue’s I hadn’t heard of before.

Every time I came across a new artist, show, gallery or venue, I followed them on sites like Facebook and Twitter (I still do). I have shown my art in places I discovered through social media.

Finding success as an artist takes time and building a CV is no exception. As yours grows, so too will your opportunities.

Next Up: Rejection

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