This article is by Brian Sherwin, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Conservative Punk, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint, Vandalog, COMPANY and Art Fag City. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 17,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites. Disclaimer: This author's views are entirely his/her own and may not reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
As mentioned in the first two articles of this artist resume advice series -- your artist resume will be 'broken down' by several headings that help to categorize your information. Some art dealers will provide specific guidelines when requesting an artist resume -- others won't. The goal of this series is to give you -- the artist -- some ideas of what art dealers may expect. (Note: A lot of my suggestions are based on conversations I've had with art dealers over the years). In Part 1 I offered advice about the 'Name' header. In Part 2 I offered advice about 'Contact Information'. In the following article I will discuss the 'Short Biography' header. (Note: this is one of the sections that can get 'ugly' fast discussion-wise. If you choose to comment -- keep it civil).
Some art dealers will request that you include a short biography within the context of your artist resume. Your short biography should generally be placed under 'Contact Information' -- if it is requested by an art dealer. That said, if the art dealer does not offer specific artist resume guidelines you may have to go with your 'gut' as to how to approach this section. The art dealers I've asked tend to agree that a short biography should be included on your artist resume in some form.
Keep in mind that artist resumes tend to be a tad more carefree compared to a resume you would use for the purpose of seeking employment. (Note: That does not mean that typos are acceptable). In other words, art dealers -- at least those I've spoken with -- are not going to automatically throw your artist resume aside just because you included an unexpected header. That said, they may toss it aside if something desired is left out (more on that later). Thus, in this context it does not hurt to include a short biography. However, remember that the idea is to keep your artist resume as brief as possible.
As implied earlier, there are different ways to approach the short biography header of your artist resume if you choose to include it (I, for one, think you should include it). I have offered two suggestions below:
Suggestion #1: You can break your short biography down into sub-categories. For example, you will want to have a category under Short Biography for Born (include year, city and country), Age (you already listed the year -- you might as well be upfront about your age.), Current Location (city and country)... and so on. This option is rather straight forward -- and maintains the overall structure of the artist resume from one heading to the next.
Suggestion #2: You can offer an extremely brief paragraph that includes general biographical information about who you are as an artist. In other words, you will include the same information provided in Suggestion #1 -- but present it in paragraph form along with other information about who you. If you are not 'big' on writing you may want to stick with Suggestion #1.
An alternative: Some artists will combine Suggestion #1 with Suggestion #2. In other words, you can list a few categories -- such as Born and Age -- followed by additional biographical information presented within the context of a sentence or two. Remember -- keep it brief.
I must stress that most of the art dealers I've spoken with prefer Suggestion #1 simply because it makes for an easy read. It also offers specific information that may help the art dealer decide if you are a good 'fit' for his or her art gallery (Note: This is where this section can get 'ugly' comment-wise... but it must be discussed). Like it or not... some art dealers have specific conditions in mind pertaining to what their clients desire. Point blank, some collectors/clients may only be interested in collecting art created by artists from within a specific age range OR from a specific country. That may not be "fair" depending on your view of it -- but keep in mind that the art dealer knows the collecting habits/traits of his or her clients... and most WILL cater to them without a second thought.
The art dealer may not be upfront about these specifics -- especially if it is an open call. That is not to say that he or she is intentionally wasting your time. After all, in researching the art gallery (and you should do a lot of research before submitting an artist resume) you will likely be able to tell if age and country will be a factor in exhibit/representation consideration. Point blank -- if you are 25 years old you may not want to get your hopes up if all of the exhibited/represented artists associated with the art gallery are over 40 years of age. Furthermore, if the majority of the artists associated with the art gallery are originally from China... well... it is probably a good bet that the art dealer prefers artists from China. (Note: I'm not saying that is always the case... but it is what it is).
I can hear it now -- "Age (or where the artist is from originally) should have nothing to do with it if the art is great...". On a personal level I agree (and I'm certain that most art dealers would agree as well on a personal level)... as for business -- and remember that most art galleries are a private business -- the art dealer knows his or her clientele better than you. For some art collectors the age of the artist -- or where the artist is from -- is an important factor. That is not to suggest that those art collectors loathe art created by artists outside of those requirements -- but for their art collections... they know what they want AND the art dealer wants to keep his or her gallery doors open.
It is best to be upfront about said information from the get-go within the context of your artist resume just incase the art dealer does, for example, consider age and country. After all, the art dealer will likely find out anyway if the information is crucial for his or her client base -- not to mention that he or she (or gallery staff) may toss your artist resume aside if those factors -- missing from your artist resume -- are considered important.
I want to stress that I'm not suggesting that all art dealers want to know your age, country and so on for the reasons mentioned above. That said, some do. That is a reality of the gallery world -- and it is a fact that some art collectors seek artists based on age or where the artist is from. Art dealers WILL cater to the preferences of their regular clientele (business is business... and the art dealer has bills to pay) -- thus, if the art gallery collector base is looking for specific requirements based on age and location... you can guarantee that the art dealer will be thinking on those same terms regardless if he or she is upfront about it or not.
Again, it is best to be upfront from the get-go. If age and country doesn't matter to the art dealer (or his or her clientele) it won't matter if you list said information -- and if it does matter to the art dealer (and his or her clientele)... he or she WILL find out OR simply toss your artist resume aside if the information is missing. My words may seem harsh... but remember that this is all based on what art dealers have told me over the years. Art collectors will always have preferences... be it style of art, age of artist, whatever… and art dealers -- in general -- will do everything they can to keep regular buyers happy.
In addition to the above, I want to stress that I realize that many older artists are extremely wary of ageism within the art world (I'm not fond of it either) -- and that there are younger artists who want to appear older out of concern that they will be viewed as 'too young' by art dealers. Young or old -- writing your artist resume is NOT the time to be concerned about your age. Just be upfront. Refer to what I said above if needed -- and repeat. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier -- you will have an idea of what you may be getting into simply by researching the art gallery in advance... which is something you SHOULD have done before submitting an artist resume in the first place.
Next on the artist resume chopping-block... my suggestions for listing Education.
Take care, Stay true,