YOUR BIOGRAPHY, ARTIST STATEMENT, AND RESUME
So, what is the difference? Do we need all three? How do we write them? In what order do they fit in our portfolio? Are they really all that important???
All good questions! I have asked them myself and yes, there is confusion as to what the difference is between each of these and how they should be used. So I have been going through "classes" online to learn how to build my portfolio (other than just photos of my work) and it has been very informative to say the least.
FIRST: Your biography is BY FAR the most important part of your portfolio! It, therefore needs to be complete and thorough, and it must be the first thing seen. It should be written in the "third person" as if someone else is writing about you, and it can be as long as three pages, or like a magazine article. I am not kidding here. You see, when you are in a gallery, the staff "sells" YOU. Your biography therefore is powerful, your story and history are crucial to collectors! So the more information they have about you, the more there is to share with collectors. Now, you may think you are boring and have nothing to share, but quite frankly all of us have life experiences that shape who we are. Include ALL theses experiences into your story as you write, at least your first draft. If you can't come up with a good story, if would be beneficial to hire a writer to do it for you. You may have a friend who is a good writer, or you could look online for resume writers. This is important because your story may just be what gets you into a gallery! Include travels, family, what made you want to paint, how old when you started, why you paint, what motivates your work, why you use your chosen medium, etc, etc, etc. Below is a question sheet called a primer that when answered helps build your biography. Again, remember, you want this to be a really good story. It sells paintings!
BIOGRAPHY PRIMER QUESTIONS
1. Where is your studio located? What are past locations of your studio?
2. Where were you born? Where did you grow up? Where do you reside now?
3. Describe what your childhood was like.
4. How old were you when you decided you wanted to be an artist? Was there a particular moment
when you suddenly knew you wanted to become an artist?
5. Are there any artistic connections in your family?
6. What is your educational background? Any artistic training?
7. What is the inspiration for your art?
8. Why did you choose your subject matter?
9. How did you develop your subject matter?
10. Who are your major influences?
Also, research biographies of other artists. Use magazines, especially art mags and go online to their website. They usually have an "About me" page with their bio. Study them carefully and see if you can use anything. Don't copy their life, of course, but seeing how theirs is written can give you ideas. And keep doing this until you are 100% happy with your biography. Another idea is to have family members and friends critique it and/or give you ideas. Your family may remember things you have forgotten and those can often be good things to use.
SECOND: Now comes the "artist's statement". It is not the same as the biography. The statement can be just a paragraph, but it is your "philosophy" on your work, why you paint what you paint, and perhaps some of how. It is written in the "first person" or "I". Again, look at the statements of other artists. Note how they explain their work. Some get quite poetic! Also, many artists have a separate statement for each series of paintings they create. Don't overlook this possibility.
THIRD: Now comes the resume. This may scare many artists, especially "self-taught" artists. There is nothing wrong with that! Say so! Many great artists have been self-taught. But be sure to include any training received even if it is a workshop or even just painting along with a TV show. You can say "studied under professional artist" or even give the name of the artist if you choose. You don't have to give dates as in a regular resume. But any schooling, awards, shows (even if small) teaching, etc, should all be included. Most importantly, include a list of names of anyone who has purchased from you, especially if they are known. You could say "in the private collection of Mr. and Mrs. Smith" for example. Also tell how many pieces they have if more than one. Especially list any corporations that may have your work. Even a donation can be listed here. (not necessary to say it's donated) If you want to use the full name of collectors, it would be good to get their permission first.
Even if your resume is short to begin with, keep adding to it as you get sales, shows, etc. You might be surprised how quickly it builds. Remember, the resume is not nearly as important as the Biography, so don't be scared of it. Just keep all information you accrue and add as you can.
Once you have put all this together, use it to email or otherwise contact galleries. Many use a CD to load photos on for their portfolio. Others just use email and have jpegs of their bio, etc. Whatever you choose, be sure to include all these items for any gallery you approach. I personally gave the link to my website where they can be found. Believe me though, I will be updating all my information and writing my "magazine article" biography very soon!
I hope this information has helped you in some way and has given you the motivation to get started on yours. Below I have included photos of my latest three paintings to have sold. Enjoy, and please keep reading, learning, and most of all, painting!
32 x 8 stack
|"FIFTY SHADES OF GREEN"|
'A Tribute to Ireland'
8 x 10
10 x 8