The Artist CV

Published on

For any job application, submission, or exhibition plan, the working artist must have a resume or a CV to present. “CV” stands for “curriculum vitae” which translates loosely to “course of life.” The artist’s CV tells a reader at a glance what you have done in the past, whether it includes previous exhibitions, employment, awards, etc., and lets them decide whether you are the right fit for the job/exhibition.

In short, the CV is a single-page summary of your most important experiences and accomplishments.

Often confused with a CV, a resume is a typical form that is used for job applications. It explains your skills and experience, and the main focus is on personal qualifications, such as education and work history. A CV, in contrast, is more of a record of accomplishments such as exhibitions, publications, and awards.

For most situations, a CV is best for an artist, as it conforms to a format that lends itself well to displaying an exhibition history. For those unfamiliar with the artist’s CV format, we’re going to break down all of the information that you need and the best techniques for organizing your CV.

prepare artist cv

The ideal CV length is 1-2 pages. If you’ve been working internationally for over 20 years, you can certainly push it to three, but most galleries and art competitions are really looking for 1-2 pages at most. Remember, the CV is a summary, not a biography. If you want info on how to write an artist biography, we’ve already written an artist biography guide for that.

As we mentioned in our Artist statement guide, you should keep everything consistent across the board with your submissions. That includes font and style. If you bold certain items (like section heads) or italicize others (like titles of shows), be sure to be consistent throughout the entire CV.

Many elements of your CV will be lists (of exhibitions, awards, publications), and it will be tempting to bullet or number these lists. Do not use bullet points or numbers. These can be distracting and confusing and will pull attention away from the information that you are trying to convey.


At the header of any CV should be your contact information. Include your name, e-mail, website, phone number, and primary address. Give your reader every option to contact you; the more information, the better.

Your name should be the very first thing that any reviewer should see, either centered or aligned to the left of the page. You can adjust the type size to make it larger than the rest of your contact information. At a glance, your name is the first thing to pop out at people.

Contact information should follow on the next line, aligned the same way that your name was aligned at the header. It can be smaller than your main text, to leave more room for your information.

555-555-5555 | | | 123 Street Name


If you have formal training as an artist, such as a BFA, MFA, or a design degree, be sure to list your education next on the page. People like to see what you studied, where, how long ago, and who your teachers were. If you went to a well-known or prestigious school, this can often be a great highlight of the CV. These items look best in chronological order, with the most recent at the top.

The education section should look like this:

Name of School — Degree Achieved — Year Achieved
Name of Other School –Degree Achieved— Year Achieved

Feel free to edit the styling, just make sure that the information is clear and readable.

If you are a self-taught artist, you can skip this section. There is no do-or-die requirement for the information you need to include in an artist CV, so you can leave off things you do not feel apply to you. On the other end, you can add achievements that you feel need their own category. Regardless, if you can’t fill a section adequately, don’t include it. Having a blank header implies a lack of experience, even if you do have experience in other sections.

Exhibition History

The ideal CV length is 1 to 2 pages.

There are two ways to go about this section, and they both depend on the length of your exhibition history.

    1. If you have participated in fewer than 15 shows, include your entire exhibition history and label this section as “Exhibition History.”
    2. If you have more than 15 shows, include a selected exhibition list. Title this section “Selected Exhibition History.”

The longer your career, the more likely it is you’ll want to include selected exhibitions, as too much information will bog down your CV and lessen the impact of each entry. That’s why we recommend 15-20 shows as the maximum. When you find your CV filling up with more than 15-20 entries, parse it down to keep only the most notable galleries or shows.

Solo Shows: If you have more than 5 solo exhibitions, then separate them into their own category. For fewer than 5 solo exhibitions, include them with the rest of your exhibition history, but make sure to clearly label them as solo shows.

For any organization style, you must have this essential information for each exhibition entry:

  • Year (always put your most recent exhibition first!)
  • Gallery/Show/Competition Name
  • Title of Show (looks best in quotation marks or italics)
  • City, Country/City, State

Try to fit the information into 1-2 lines on the page. For example:

2018 – Agora Gallery “Name of Exhibition” New York City, NY. USA.

You can put the information in whatever order you think will make sense to your reader, but remember, it must be clear and consistent. A reader has to know when, what, and where your experiences happened, and the template above fills in all the blanks. The more information you give per entry, the easier it is for the reader to do a search and find out more, but just keep your entries to 1-2 lines max per show.


Next up is a list of institutions and collections in which your work is held. An institution would be a museum or school. A public collection is a collection that is not necessarily a museum but can be viewed by the public, such as in a government office. This is opposed to a private collection, wherein the works are held by an individual buyer in their own home or private place of business. If your work is displayed in a coffee shop in your town, that counts as a public collection.

The information you should have for each entry is:

  • Name of Piece
  • Name of Collection/Institution
  • Location (City, Country)
  • Year Acquired or Donated

Do not use bullet points or numbers. These can be distracting and confusing, and will pull attention away from the information that you are trying to convey.

The entry can be arranged like so:

Artwork Title. Public Art Museum. Cityville, United States. Donated 2015.


Following this section is a list of the publications that you’ve been featured in. This can be any publication, big or small, but if you’re only including a select few entries then be sure to favor the “best looking” publications. Print media is still favored over the web for these kinds of things and will look better on your CV.

Just like your exhibitions, you’ll want to list the most recent publication at the top, and the rest in reverse chronological order beneath.

Your entries should look something like this:

“Title of Article.” Title of Publication. Volume number and publication date. Page(s) of article.


Next, you can list any awards you’ve won for your art or art-related work. This can include any awards you may have earned from art history research, art teaching, or charitable outreach.

The format is similar to publication entries.

Title of Award. First/Second/Third Place*. Awarding Organization. Year.

*You do not need to include this if it is not applicable to the type of award you won.

Affiliations & Memberships

The final section will feature arts or arts-related organizations of which you are a member. It can be anything from an international group of artists to a small arts circle in your community.

You can easily list these entries like so:

Member of the Following Organizations:
Art Group International, Joined 2012
Littletown Painting Circle, Founding Member


At the very bottom will be your footer, in which you can include the name and information of any gallery/ies that you are represented by at the time you publish your CV. In typical footer style, this looks nicely centered and a few points smaller than the rest of the document.

It should look something like this:

Current Representation: Gallery Name, City, (State), Country. Website and/or phone number.

That’s the list for a CV, from head to toe – or ‘header’ to ‘footer,’ more aptly. Remember that a curriculum vitae is a living document and should be updated with every new show, new award or change in personal information. It’s a great idea to have one “master list” that includes all of your information. Then, you can pare it down when you need to send it out.

Looking to develop your artistic career and build a presence in New York City and worldwide? Book an online career development consultation meeting today.

Below is a handy template that you can work with to help design your own CV. Go forth and create!

A example of an artist CV


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

29 responses to “The Artist CV”

  1. Maria Jose avatar

    Hola buenas días yo quisiera informarme mejor. Tengo muchísimos cuadros de mi hermanos que era apasionado por el arte. Estudio bellas artes en granada, hizo un año de Erasmus en Praga y el máster lo hizo en México. Y estaba terminando la texi cuándo el falleció, con 30 años. Entonces sus cuadros son personales. Y me gustaría hacerlo conocer y que vieran sus obras. Aunque tiene mucho por todo sitios de dibujos que ha regalado.

  2. Roelien Smit avatar

    Great informstion, thank you

  3. Rosa Rivera avatar

    Buenas noches mi nombre es rosa rivera me considero una artista en dibujo y estoy interesada en su articulo de como exponer mis dibujos soy salvadoreña y quisiera ver su opinion sobre mi arte quisiera saber más de como exponer mi arte.

  4. Erica avatar

    Thank you, this article was very helpful!

    I don’t see anything on here about teaching classes or workshops. I have done a few of these at local art centers and organizations recently, is this something that should be included on a CV?

    1. Agora Experts avatar

      Hi Erica,

      You should include them, of course! Anything that helps you prove your skills and experience.

    2. Jesús Moreno avatar

      Como esponer mis cuadros

  5. charlene avatar

    Thank you for the informative article.

    I too have had a very long break between art school & some group shows to 2 years ago, where I have a hand full of competitions and group shows.

    How do I explain this break in my Artist biography, I have been working full-time as a designer, the bred winner of my family. It was something I want to do, I did some painting at home at different times but basically stop my practice.

    I am entering a very prominent competition in the emerging artist section and want my CV to be as impressive but direct & honest.

    1. Agora Experts avatar

      Hi Charlene,

      Maybe you should use this experience as an advantage to your CV and mention that you are also a seasoned designer.

  6. Peter avatar

    Hello Andrea. Thank you for a very informative article. I have a question regarding showing dates in the CV: in my case, I have a glaring 10-year gap in exhibition history when I was focusing on making a living in my day job. Now I am very focused on art and feel somewhat insecure about the discrepancy. Is it acceptable to list exhibitions without the dates next to them? Or is there some other way to soften the impact of a 10-year gap? Thank you very much.

    1. Andra Bilici avatar

      Hi Peter,

      You can always be transparent and inform your potential buyers or gallerists that you focused on a full-time job.

  7. Meghan Scott avatar

    This article has been super useful! Thank you.
    I do have a question: how would you identify an exhibition that is on indefinitely? I have been indicating years for my exhibitions (ex. 2017-19), I wonder if ex. 2019- is sufficient or confusing?
    Much appreciated.

  8. Antonia Perdis avatar

    I have really enjoyed and appreciated all your information . it is very helpful.

    I am predominantly self taught with various courses that I have completed with different institutions in Australia and I am looking to working full time now as an artist.

    I am presently trying to put my CV together and developing my digital footprint.

    My question is…
    I have mostly sold my art work through other avenues other than galleries.
    They were sold at both design and fashion businesses in the past.
    I currently do not have artworks there, also one of the businesses is not in operation today for them to be available to validate for enquiries, do I list these under Public Collections ?

  9. Maria Alejandra Ibáñez avatar

    Dear Agora experts
    Thank you for this article is very helpful just one question. In my Cv do I have to use my artist name or my full name because I’m having problems with it. Since I recently started using my mother´s last name for my artist name. I don’t know if I should put both in my cv or that would be too confusing for the reader ? I mainly use my full name to coordinate with people from work or do some transactions as well with friends and family. And I only use my artist name in my website, social media and when my artwork is in the gallery . I’ll be looking forward for your response,
    thank you so much for the article I really like it !
    best regards !

    1. Andra Bilici avatar

      Hi Maria,

      You can use both and mention which is your official name and how you sign as an artist.

  10. Zurine Santander avatar

    All your articles are so informative and helpful – thank you! I am a self taught artist who now, at 34 years old, is starting to really push forward my painting with the aim of one day getting into galleries/coffee shops/art fairs etc. I’m working on some new series, putting together a website just for my paintings, writing my artist statement, bio etc. However, apart from a small handful of commissions and an award I won when I was 14 for a charity led art competition (i.e. not a recognised art award) I have nothing to put in a resume. No formal art education, I’ve never exhibited anywhere, never sold at art fairs, never been in a competition, I’m not a member of any art organisations (of course I can change that easily)… Should I not bother with a CV at all until I have more to go on there? How would I present a CV at this stage? And presumably I would include art fairs once I’ve participated in some?

    1. Andra Bilici avatar

      Hi Zurine,

      Congratulations on this new phase of your career. It’s best to be honest with your audience and potential buyers, after all, talent is one of the most important aspects — it will help you achieve more recognition and, thus, consolidate your career as an artist. You should use your artist CV wherever it is required so add to it the information available.

  11. Emily Percival avatar

    Such helpful information! Thank you 🙂

  12. Martha Henrickson avatar

    Thank you for this, I usually try to cram too much info into my CV…listing all exhibitions and all collections…This helps me make it all a bit clearer..
    One question, I was represented by a well known photography gallery in Toronto for over 18 years, I left due to several problems arrising with missing pieces of my work. Since that time I am representing myself and showing in more local galleries out of the city. Do I just put in the dates I was was represented by the known gallery? It will show up anyway when I add the solo exhsibits I did have there.
    I also write poetry and have a few chap books, do I add these to the cv as well?

    Martha Henrickson

    1. Andra Bilici avatar

      Hi Martha,
      Thank you for reading our article! We’re glad you found it useful! Since you were represented by that gallery for many years, it looks like it’s an important chapter of your artistic career and we think you should mention it. Regarding the poetry, maybe you can add it among other hobbies or personal activities in your CV.

  13. Rosemary Aliukonis avatar

    I am a highly qualified and experienced visual artist from Australia seeking to update my CV. I am restarting my artistic career after a lengthy period where I was a carer for my elderly parents as well as suffering illness.
    As there is gap between my last significant exhibition (2004), and now, should I add this information to my CV, and where should it sit in the layout?

  14. OrapistaK&K avatar

    Specifically and on the subject.

  15. Zulkarnaini avatar

    Good tutorial.. thank you so much

  16. berkeley avatar

    Dear Agora expert, thanx a lot for the opportunity of this blog and your help. I have a question concerning the certificate of autenticity. Do I need to make one even if I sell thorugh a gallery? In case of so shall I glue it on the back of the painting or it’s better a loose paper in an envelope?
    Thank you in advance
    Best regards

  17. berkeley avatar

    Dear Agora expert,
    first of all I would like to thank you for the opportunity to share these helpful information. I have a question for you regarding the section ‘education’. I am basically a self-taught painter working manily with wood. I am also an actor trained at a National Academy of Drama. Should I put my BA of acting in the Cv?

    Thank you a lot again in advance
    Best regards

    1. Agora Experts avatar

      Dear Berkeley, you definitely should add any achievements that you feel would help your CV. Having an acting degree might not help you as much as BFA or a design degree would, but it will show the reader that you have higher education and that is one thing that will never hurt your CV.

  18. juan manuel correa avatar

    my name artist is juan manuel quagliato……

    quagliato is name family of my mother

    my god father artist is mariano sapia,paintier argentinian

    im a painter argentinian,i was born in junin,pcia de buenos aires in 1972,

    i dedicated for painting from 2003

    1. Agora Experts avatar

      Dear Juan Manuel Quagliato,

      Thank you for your comment. You can submit your portfolio for a review here: Agora Gallery Representation and Promotion services. If you’d like to find out more about how our representation works, please visit our FAQ page.

      We look forward to learning more about you and your work!