Artist’s Profile & CV/Resume Writing
By DANIAL FUAD

In the art world, a CV or resume is a vital document you can give to gallery owners, curators and collaborators because it contains your course and life as an artist, with activities like exhibitions, residencies and collections listed as your career reference.

Importance
Your CV is valuable as it acts as an entry point to your profession. In addition to looking at your artworks, people will read your CV as well to know more about you before deciding on working with you.

“Most gallerist are busy so a good and concise CV is important as that is what people will look first before deciding to work further with you” Kenny Teng, G13 Gallery Owner

Structure
Name, Date Of Birth (DOB) & Place
This is the first thing you should put in your CV, so it goes at the start of the document.
You can use your commercial name (on top of your full real name) in order for easy recognition, and by adding your DOB, people can see how well you’ve performed in relation to your age.

By including your place of birth, people also get to know where you’re from. This detail is significant because some residency programmes will only accept artists from certain countries.

Example:
Danial Fuad; 1945; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Education
The next part is your education level. This is used to measure the level of thinking and understanding of your art by referencing it to an artist’s majors. At a glance, this means your artistic or academic progress is mirrored against your work to compare your craft and capabilities over time.

It should start with your graduation year, your certification successes and the institution. If you’re a self-taught artist, don’t worry because you can also put this down as your means of education – just remember to include the year you start making artwork. Start with the highest degree you’ve acquired and end with the lowest (e.g. diploma) as that is when you focused more on art education.

Example:
2008 Bachelor (Hons.) Fine Arts; Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia.

Awards & Residencies
After your academic background, the next part of your CV features the awards you have received and/or residency programmes you have participated in. These two are usually combined as one, but if you have more than 10 each, it is better to keep them separated.

This detail shows how many or the different types of recognition you’ve earned. It’s an important aspect to your CV as it holds the most weight when people are learning about you as an artist. Residencies tend to broaden an artistic view and how you work with other people. By having various joint residency programmes, it shows your capacity to grow and learn.

Example:
2016 Winner; Bakat Muda Sezaman, Balai Seni Lukis Negara; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2009 Artist In Residence, Rimbun Dahan; Selangor, Malaysia

Solo Exhibition
A solo show holds extra weight for any artist as the spotlight is only on you compared to a group presentation. Your own exhibition is usually held after you’ve finished learning about a subject and acts as a conclusion to your studies or to promote your recent works (if you’re an established artist). Having multiple solo shows throughout your career shows that you’re an established artist as galleries do not easily host solo shows.

Example:
2010 “UNNAMED” by Bayu Utomo; HOM Art Trans; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Group/Selected Group Exhibition
A group show happens between two or more artists based on the exhibition direction.

If you’re just starting out, you might have only a few events for your list, so include every show you’ve been in. As your career progresses and you get into more collective shows, just include the significant exhibitions to avoid cluttering your CV. It is also good to include group shows where there are fewer artists, or ones held at more significant galleries. Also note that an open show carries less weight than, say, a presentation of only two artists.

Example:
2016 Carbon Copy: A Printmaking Exhibition; G13 Gallery; Selangor, Malaysia

It’s also vital to note that if you’re presenting at an art fair or expo, you should name the gallery that’s representing you.

Example:
2019 Art Expo Malaysia 2019 with Segaris Art Centre; MATRADE Exhibition and Convention Centre; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
International/Selected International Exhibition

As you progress in your career, you may be invited into international exhibitions, so it’s good to separate those from local, domestic or national shows so that people can easily differentiate them. Getting that big break means everything to an artist as it thrusts you into a wider market. Also, highlighting international shows on your CV helps those studying you gain more confidence about your talent and eliminates the “village champion” stigma. And don’t forget to state the country where the event happens.

Example:
2020 Brain Invasion; Block 17 Art Space; Bacolod, The Philippines


Activities
Involvement in art-related activities can also be included in your CV. This is great if you’re a young artist with only a short list of shows you’ve been in. Activities like mural painting, gallery sitting or volunteering can be added to the list too because this tells a bit more about you outside of an exhibition setting. There’s no harm for potential collaborators to see your other skills in the art world.

Example:
2018 Artwork Commission; Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Collections

You should also list whatever artwork you’ve done that’s in someone’s personal or private collection and also in institutions as well. This adds relevancy to your CV as having prominent collectors of your art will boost confidence in other people to do the same for your other work. The data of who’s collecting your work can easily be acquired from the gallery representing you or the one you’re collaborating with.

Take note: you should have (at least) five collectors if it’s going into your CV. You can just name the collector and omit the year the work was obtained. But if it is in an international collection, put in the location of where your work is.

Example:
Balai Seni Lukis Negara; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Pakhruddin Sulaiman; Selangor, Malaysia


Publications/Broadcast
Finally, it’s great to list any publication (newspapers, magazines, books) or broadcast (television, radio) that has written about you or showcased your work. It can be in print, online, or even an exhibition essay as long you and your art are mentioned positively. This can be listed as how bibliographies are written – with the title of the publication, where it was available, the name of the writer or essay/book author (particularly if it’s an exhibition or academic mention), and the date.

Example:
“Malaysian Artist Explores the Intersection of Printmaking and Climate Change”; The Star; March 2021
“Constructed Realities in the Landscape Paintings of Syed Fakaruddin” by Sarah Abu Bakar; February 2021


Writing an Artist Profile
Aside from all this, some places may need your artist profile too. For a simple profile, you can take what you think are the best and strongest points from each part of your CV, then put them together in a written form. Note that an Artist Profile is different from an Artist Statement, although sometimes it can be combined for a more in-depth explanation of your practice.

Usually, an artist profile covers a list of shows whereas an artist statement talks about your practice. If writing is not your forte, get a proper writer to do this on your behalf so all you need to do is provide them with the information.

Example:
Jane Doe was born in 1945 in Kuala Lumpur. Her first formal art education was in 2005 where she acquired her Diploma of Fine Arts in Universiti Teknologi MARA, Sri Iskandar. She then proceeded to get her Bachelor (Hons.) Fine Arts from Universiti Sains Malaysia in 2008. Active in the art scene, she participated as an artist in residence at Rimbun Dahan in 2009 and was selected as one of the winners for Bakat Muda Sezaman 2016.


Conclusion/Summary
An artist’s CV or resume is a gateway for you and your artwork, so it should be done in a structured and professional manner. Gallery owners and curators may encounter tonnes of submissions, and if yours isn’t presented well, you may miss out on an opportunity. The main point of a CV or resume is to give confidence to others about you as an artist, so your CV should show how active you have been or are in the art scene. Ultimately, this will also relate to your pricing. To be considered active, a simple benchmark is having (at least) four art exhibitions annually, so you can justify your price tag.


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