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Writing and Formatting an Artistic Resume

Karen Atkinson, GYST Inc.



Regular contributor Karen Atkinson gives advice on resume creation.




The artist resume provides a selected overview of your artistic and professional accomplishments, education, affiliations, and hints at future aspirations. It usually accompanies your artist statement for exhibitions, proposals, and portfolios.

While many employers like to receive a one-page resume, the artist resume does not need to follow this convention. Just like artist statements and portfolios, artist resumes should be customized to meet the needs and expectations of each circumstance in which they are needed.

An artist resume is not the same thing as a curriculum vitae or CV, which is primarily used as an academic document.

Always keep a full version of your resume detailing every single accomplishment, exhibition, from the beginning of your art career up to the present. You can then cut and paste sections for a new version as needed.

Formatting Your Resume

Your resume should be clear, concise, and easy to read. Select fonts that are easy to read, and never use less than 10 point type. Use white spaces, and don’t try to make it look longer by using fancy graphics, or too much blank space.

Always list your most recent accomplishments first, and go back in time listing past accomplishments.

Always date your resume, so you will know when it is from.

As your career progresses, you will want to add new categories to your resume, such as residencies, catalogs, lectures, etc. How you format your resume says a lot about how you prioritize your practice. Usually artists put their most important info first on a resume. So, if you put your education first, that says something about you. Realize that it is OK to rework your resume for each opportunity or submission.


1 . Name

Preferred mailing address:
Phone Number(s):
Personal Web Site: (if appropriate)

Always make sure that you contact information is up to date, and there are a number of ways to contact you. Sometimes galleries will ask that you remove your personal contact info from your resume if you have a sole representation contract with the gallery.

2 . Education

Degree/ Graduation Date/ School, Major or area of concentration

MFA  1984 California Institute of the Arts (pending, if you are still in school)
BA     1981 California Fresno State University
AA     1979 Reedley College

You can list your area of study (i.e. Sculpture, painting etc.) if your academic institution has these categories. You may also want to list any honors, (i.e. cum laude). It is not uncommon for artists to have studied at a number of institutions without a degree. You can list these periods of study after the degrees.

3. Grants/Awards (Grants/Fellowships, Awards/Honors)

Date/ Name of Grant/ Name of Granting Institution if applicable

2003 Tremaine Foundation Grant
1998 California Arts Council Artist Fellowship

4. Solo Exhibitions (One-Person Shows, Solo Shows)

2004 Prisoner of Love, Barnsdall Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1999 M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition, University California San Diego


Once you have many shows under your belt, you might want to change the heading to Selected Solo Exhibitions. You can then pick and choose shows that reflect your career the best.

If you are a media based artist, you might want to title this section with Exhibitions and Screenings. If you are a performance artist, then consider Exhibitions and Performances, etc. Use the heading that makes the most sense to you.

Some artists list one or two person shows in this section, as many spaces have more than one artist doing solo shows at a time.

Make sure you give credit to collaborative projects, and include the names of your collaborators.

If you don’t want to separate Solo and Group shows, then demarcate the solo shows in some way. For example, the title might include (*one and two person shows).

5. Group Exhibitions

Date/ Title of Show/ Gallery/ Curator (if applicable)/ City, State (Award for show, if applicable)

2004 Just Take This: women, pain, medical histories, Side Street Projects, Santa Monica, CA
2003 Tough Terrain, Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, Canada

If you work on multiple projects of different kinds, you might want to consider the following categories for your resume. Structure these in the same way as you would an exhibition as listed above:

Public Art Projects
Curatorial Projects
Lectures and Panels
Published Projects and Articles
Books Published
Software or CD Titles, Videos
Artist Books
Membership Activities

6.  Bibliography (Selected Bibliography)

Name of Writer, “Title of Article,“ Title of Publication, Date or issue number, Page number, URL (if applicable).

“Portrait of the Artist Abroad”, Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2003  
“US Contingent in Havana”, Betty Klausner, Art in America, 1994  

Some people list the writer first, and then the title of the article. List inclusions in books, magazines and newspaper articles. You might also list radio and TV interviews, and can include that in the heading as Bibliography/Radio/TV. For proper formatting see The Art Bulletin Style Guide.

7. Employment (or Current Employment)

Years of Employment Position, Hiring Institution, City, State
1988-2004            Faculty, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA
1991-2002            Director, Side Street Projects, Los Angeles, CA

Typically, artists list their employment history if their jobs are related to the arts. If you use the heading Current Employment, you can list your current job. However, if you have a history of teaching at well known Universities, or other impressive jobs, you may want to list them here as well.

8. Collections (Public, Private, Corporate)
Peter Norton, Norton Family Foundation, Santa Monica, CA
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA

This section is for listing notable collections only. Do not list your friends and family here, unless of course they are notable collectors. Be sure to ask private collectors if you can list their names. Sometimes they require privacy for security or other reasons.

9. Current Gallery Representation (if applicable)

Terrain Gallery, San Francisco, CA,
Asher/Faure, Santa Monica, CA
Tom Fisher Gallery, Chicago, IL
Be sure to check spelling and grammar! Have someone else look over your resume before you send it out.



Karen Atkinson is a media, installation, public artist, independent curator, and collaborator. Atkinson has published and guest edited a number of publications. Exhibiting and curating internationally, Atkinson's work has been shown in South Africa, Australia, Europe, Mexico, Canada, throughout the USA, and in the Fifth Havana Biennial in Cuba.

In 1991, she was a co-founding director of Side Street Projects, a non-profit artist-run organization in Los Angeles, which continues to thrive now in Pasadena. Atkinson has held a faculty position at CalArts since 1988, teaching Foundation Seminar, Context Revolt (addressing installation, public and net art), and her renowned Getting Your Sh*t Together class. She has taught workshops for over 20 years, both regionally and nationally, for organizations like the California and Boston Lawyers for the Arts, College Art Association, The National Association of Arts Organizations, and dozens of additional artist-run spaces and non-profits, as well as colleges and universities.

Karen created the GYST software for artists from scratch and in 2000 she founded GYST as an artist-run professional practices company. Currently, Karen chooses to focuses on making life better for artists and less on exhibiting her own work.