Tag Archives: resume

What It Takes

I wanted to take a moment to discuss some concerns that I hear repeatedly amongst artist friends and online.  If you are reading this post, then more than likely you are an artist or maybe an art enthusiast.  Some of you may have embarked upon making a career of your art while others are afraid to do so for various reasons.  And of the ones that are currently working on their art careers, you may find yourselves discouraged at times or frustrated that things are not going as planned.  So what do you do about it?  Well, I am here to say that first of all, don’t give up.  And don’t be scared, or discouraged, or angry, or sad, or frustrated, etc., etc., etc.  This is a subjective business and not everyone will feel that your work suits their gallery or their living rooms.  And that’s okay.

Let’s face it.  This career is not for sissies.  But if you love your art, which I’m sure you do, then the other stuff won’t really matter.  Take pride in your work and take pride in all that you have accomplished.  Even if you’re just starting out, you have a lot to be proud of just in taking the first step to starting your career.  Shockingly enough, most people do not take those first steps (and that’s including those that are not even artists).  It takes guts to make the first move.  You’re getting out of your comfort zone.  And even once you are well into your career, you will find that you still have to shake things up and get out of your comfort zone again and again.  As the stakes get higher, you need to do more as well as reach more.  But that’s okay because you love what you do.

Aside from loving your work, you have to be consistent.  That is the one thing that I see so many artists drop the ball on.  Consistency is key.  You can’t expect to accomplish everything overnight.  You will have to slowly build and take each step towards building your exhibition experience, your portfolio, your sales, your awards, etc.  And just because you accomplish one goal, doesn’t mean you can stop.  You have to keep on plugging away at your career.  You can’t just coast or rest on your laurels.  You’ll need to have new work to show, you’ll need to expand to other cities, other states, other countries even.  You’ll need to keep moving.  How many bands can you think of that were one-hit wonders?  How many actors can you think of that were popular and then seemed to disappear from the face of the Earth?  You may find it hard to even think of examples but once you do, you’ll be thinking, “oh yeah… whatever happened to…?”  Don’t be one of those cases.  You are not a flash in the pan.  You’re serious about your career and you are here to stay.

The good news is it’s not about luck!  Sure, sometimes you may happen to be in the right place at the right time, but that won’t be often.  And even if it does happen, it won’t necessarily make your career.  Even for the positive things that happen in your career, if it wasn’t directly related to your doing, if you trace it back, you will probably find that it was thanks to one of the “seeds” you planted in the first place.  You don’t need to buy a Magic 8 ball or get a tarot reading.  Just keep putting yourself out there, creating more, improving as much as possible, marketing, networking, exhibiting, etc.  You don’t need luck- luck is hard to get anyway.  Consistency is easy enough to do and is a sure bet.

Stay strong, be consistent, and be professional.  The rest will follow.



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Gallery Opportunities

Viewers at Gallery 549 looking at Amy Guidry's paintings

With two group shows less than a week apart, another in the next month, and a solo show only 7 months away, a lot of pe0ple think I’m really busy.  Or uber-busy.  It seems normal to me, though, especially if I want to maintain a career as an artist.  So this has me thinking that this must not be the norm, which is unfortunate because I like to think that artists are all showing their work somewhere other than their basement.  So I have to ask- are you doing all that you can to promote your work?  Or do you not know where to start?  For those that are beginners, I thought I’d take this opportunity to discuss how to exhibit your art.  And maybe even those of you who are not new to this will pick up some ideas.

First, I like to ignore all the “rules” regarding getting into galleries.  So many people say you should start small and local.  Yes, there is some truth to this, but don’t sell yourself short.  Some of my very first exhibitions were out of my city and out of my state, so there goes that rule.  Secondly, there are a lot of people that say you shouldn’t even approach a gallery, that you should just let them call you.  What??  If I want something, I don’t just sit on my couch and will it to me.  I go out and get it.  Now, don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean you can just march into a gallery and dump your portfolio in their lap.  You should send them your work in a professional manner- read my steps for doing this in a previous post.

Galleries like to know that you are going to be reliable and not flake out if they book a show with you for several months/years in advance, hence the need for a good resume.  So you’ll need to build your exhibition history.  But how do you get an exhibit if you have never exhibited before?  I know- it’s like which came first, the chicken or the egg.  This is where starting small and local comes in since you’re more likely to get into a gallery that knows you personally through local events, plus if they are not solely looking for established artists, you’ll have a better chance.  That said, don’t limit yourself, either.  There’s no harm in trying to get shows elsewhere- especially group exhibitions since galleries know that if you drop out, it won’t be so hard to replace you or make up for it.

In addition to galleries, there are other ways to exhibit your work.  I’d recommend this whether you need to build your exhibition history or even if you’ve done hundreds of shows.  You can never reach enough people.

University galleries and museums– great to have on your resume, but won’t result in sales necessarily because the general public doesn’t think to go there to buy art.  That’s just the perception they have.  However, these venues are very prestigious and build your credibility among collectors and galleries.  You will need a few shows under your belt to score one of these, but just to say, this is something you should be aiming for.

Local museums– more likely to show your work these days due to the economic crisis.  Their funding has been limited since the government loves to cut arts funding first, so they can’t afford to ship work and give stipends to national/international artists.  So get to know your local museum and send them a proposal.

Juried exhibitions– Now there is a lot of debate over these types of shows since some think they lead to nothing, while others think you should never pass an opportunity to exhibit.  If you are completely new to exhibiting your work, I say go with the latter.  When you’re starting out, you won’t discriminate so much- there’s plenty of time to do that later once you’ve been showing a lot.  If you’ve built a bit of an exhibition history, that’s a different story.  Personally, I will do juried exhibits, but that’s only if I feel they are worthwhile.  I decide based on:
Where the show is being held– is it a good venue or is it some cube in the middle of nowhere?
Who is the juror– someone prestigious in the art world or just somebody’s grandma that took a watercolor class once?
Is the venue insured? Nevermind whether your own work is insured, if the venue itself can’t afford insurance, then it’s probably not a good one (sorry).
What city/state/country is the venue located– again, don’t go with someplace not typically known for art.
Is it a vanity gallery? There are a few of those out there holding juried shows- make sure the gallery has a good reputation.

Lastly, look into exhibition opportunities that are off the beaten path.
Pop-up galleries are the latest “it” spaces and do not require representation, so you are more likely to get into one.  Also, if you are just starting out, look into showing at coffee shops, bookstores, libraries, bank lobbies, doctors’ offices, law firms, gift shops, restaurants, etc.  Although food and smoke near your work is a scary concept, so just consider that risk, but look into making your own exhibits through these venues.  Not all will lead to sales, which is why many don’t bother, but it will build your name in the community, build your exhibition history (until you can gain more via galleries, etc.), and it can lead to future sales since people will see your work and talk about it with others well after your show.  Each step builds upon the other.  It all takes time- Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I’m sure I’m forgetting some things, so if you have ideas for opportunities to share, please feel free to add them in the comments section.



As a busy artist, I am always updating my resume to add exhibitions or press items. One thing I can’t stress enough is the importance to stay on top of updating your resume. You never know when a gallery or a collector may ask for it and you don’t want to hand over an outdated resume or keep them waiting while you work on one. And it’s easy to forget to include something. So here are a few guidelines that I follow for my own resume (or CV) that may come in handy for those of you in need of an update or those just starting out. These are the categories in order of appearance:

Birthdate and Birthplace: I just put my year of birth, but you can use your full birthdate. This is important to collectors and galleries since they are interested in how your age and where you are from may influence your work.

Exhibitions: Depending on where you are at in your career, this may be one category or two. In the latter, you will have a Solo Exhibition category and a Group Exhibition category. Some like to put 2-person shows in with Solo. In that case, it should be clearly marked as Solo and Two-Person Exhibitions and list each exhibit as such.

For those of you just starting out, don’t fret. Everyone has to start somewhere. If you have ever shown your work in a coffee shop, restaurant, library, bank, etc. now is the time to list it. If you were the only artist, list it as a solo exhibit. What if you haven’t shown at all yet? I would start small- ask owners of businesses (if you know them personally, even better) if you can hang your work there for a month. If you know of a vacant space that you can use, put up an exhibit of your own and invite people for an opening reception. Even if it’s for one evening, it’s still an exhibit. These opportunities are easier to come across since no one is expecting you to make money for them, so they are more willing to let you use their walls. However, once you start getting exhibits at galleries, you should remove these previous shows from your resume. It’s okay when you’re just starting out, but once you start moving up the ladder, you will need to omit exhibits that are of “less importance” in the gallery owner’s eyes. This rule goes for everyone.

List exhibitions by most recent first. List the year, name of the exhibit, and the location. If there is an exhibit catalogue, put “(catalogue)” at the end of the listing. If there was a well-known curator or juror, list them as well.

Experience: I use the term “experience” here, but really this will depend on you. This spot should be reserved for any jobs, lectures, workshops, etc. that you may have (or had) pertaining to your art career. ONLY list something if it is relevant to your career. Even if you are an Executive Director, 20 years going, at a major department store chain, do not put it down. Unless this is evident by looking at your art, it is not important to your art career in any way other than a paycheck. If you are an art teacher, list your teaching experience, or if you’ve ever been a guest artist lecturer, list lectures, etc.

Education: This is an important category, but as I have learned from various sources, it shouldn’t be at the top of your resume. Your exhibition history is more important. So obviously this area won’t need much updating unless you are presently in school or going back. You should name your university, location, degree received, and the year. If your degree is not art related, or does not  influence your art, you may want to leave off what your degree is in. More than likely, no one will ask anyway. From experience, only other artists and art professors ever ask where I studied.

If you have not attended college, don’t worry about that either. Many artists are self-taught. You may list such on your resume or if you’ve ever taken another artist’s workshop, you can put this under Education as well. As you move up the ranks, you may want to eventually remove the workshops unless they were conducted by well-known artists (i.e. nationally or internationally recognized). As your career progresses and you gain exposure, no gallery is going to care about a workshop you took 10 years ago. Not to say it wasn’t important to you, but galleries want to know what is most significant to your career.

Awards: Again, this is a category that depends on you. This may not be a blue ribbon award category so much as it is a list of grants received or residencies you were selected for. If you have received an award ribbon, certificate, etc. be sure to list the name of the competition and what placement you received. If you received a purchase award, be sure to name the award- for example, most are a person’s name such as the Betty Sue Purchase Award. If you don’t have any awards yet, just leave this category out.

Bibliography: Well, back in college, I learned the proper way to list press articles, etc. from “The Little, Brown Handbook.” I assume it still exists, but no two artists ever list their bibliographies the same. Some group everything by year, some alphabetical by article name, some alphabetical by author name, etc. I list by author name, but to each his own here. Regardless, this category should include any magazine articles, newspapers, radio interviews, tv interviews, and even blogs. Back in the day, blogs weren’t even in existence in “The Little, Brown Handbook.” Our books were stone tablets… just kidding.

Collections: Again, if you don’t have anything for this, just omit it. However, if your work is in any public collections, list it here. If your work is in any private collections (which is more likely the case), you can list the names and locations of the collectors if they are well-known (i.e. celebrities or famous patrons of the arts). Sorry to say, but no gallery is interested in knowing that your next door neighbor owns your work even if it’s 50 pieces. However, if the person is seen on national television or they are a famous artist, well-known curator, or a major art collector that loans their collection to museums from time to time, then you’ll get a gallery’s attention.

Representation: Another category you can omit if needed. If you happen to have gallery representation, list it here.

So that’s it- you may find in your career that there are other categories you could include, which is fine, just be sure your exhibitions stay at the forefront. Oh, and be sure your contact information is on every page of your resume. And no staples.


Approaching a Gallery (in a few easy steps)

Amy Guidry's painting "Food or Pet? How Do You Decide", Wally Workman Gallery, Austin, TX
Amy Guidry's painting "Food or Pet? How Do You Decide", Wally Workman Gallery, Austin, TX

First, check out galleries that you think may like your work. You should never just blindly send out your portfolio, resume, what have you to a gallery without determining if they’re the right fit. And this should go without saying, but be sure that they are a gallery! Attend openings, meet curators, dealers, gallery owners and directors. If you can’t physically make it to a gallery, at the very least, you should check out their space online. Get to know the artists that they show. Can you see your work fitting in with a group exhibit of these artists?

Once you’ve determined which gallery or galleries you are interested in, you should prepare your presentation. These days, email is so common (sometimes it’s preferred) that I think it is okay to submit your work via email. However, if a gallery has a submissions policy, be sure to abide by that. If not, they’ll toss your work in the trash. If the submissions policy is not a clearly stated link on their website, try looking under the Contact Us page. If there is absolutely no information, contact the gallery for their guidelines.

Whether you submit your work via email or postal mail, be sure that your presentation is professional. First, get the name of the person you need to contact. Whether it’s the director, the curator, or the manager, find out their name. I know from personal experience, many just blindly send an email without even acknowledging my name. Why would I want to show their work (again, I’m not a gallery, but let’s pretend for a second) if they don’t even know who I am? So find out their name. Google it, ask someone, or contact the gallery itself- just find out!

The rest is easy. This is where you should put together your bio and/or resume, portfolio, and any other relevant information. You should have all of these at your fingertips already, but if not, now is the time to start. Make sure that all of your information and images are up to date. And be sure to spell check. It’s the little things that matter, so be sure to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

If you send your information via email, be sure to use small image files. If you load down their inbox, they won’t be happy or they may not even receive your information at all. It could bounce or end up in a spam filter. So keep it small- 4MB total is best.

Sounds simple, and it really is if you keep everything up to date. Again, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. www.AmyGuidry.com