Marketing Mondays: CV vs Resume vs Bio

CV? Résumé? Bio?
After two requests in the past four months to trim my résumé (“edit,” is the diplomatic term), I’m wondering why we spend the first half of our careers working to build it up only to be asked, ever so kindly, to cut it down. I’ve trimmed a christmas tree. I’ve trimmed hedges. I’ve trimmed my toenails and my hair. But I’m feeling like I want to hold onto my long, luxurious résumé. I’ve worked hard to grow this thing!
One dealer I work with said, “No collector wants to read through that long list.” Another wants my résumé to be the same length as the other artists for the gallery book. “We’ll have the long version for anyone who’s interested.” Uh, I guess that won’t be the collectors.
However, after researching the topic for this post, I see that those dealers are not out of line with their request for a short résumé. According to the College Art Association’s guidelines for visual artists: “It is meant to be short and simple to review . . .one to four pages.”.
Here are a few definitions that should clarify our work summaries:.
Curriculum Vitae, also known as a cv: A summary of one's education, professional history, and job qualifications. (I love this: It’s fom the Latin, the course—i.e. racetrackof life).

The College Art Association, writing for visual artists, describes the “long cv” as “a framework on which to build” your professional academic history. Visual artists, take note: "Please remember that there is a difference between a curriculum vitae and the artist résumé. The curriculum vitae is a record of all of your professional activities and is intended for use in academic situations. The artist résumé is an abbreviated document that is used in conjunction with commercial galleries, the search for exhibition opportunities, and certain grant applications. It is typically one to four pages in length.".
Résumé: A brief account of one's professional or work experience and qualifications. It is essentially a short cv but with an emphasis on exhibition, award and biliography as opposed to academic issues such as teaching and committees. The CAA offers guidelines here.
Biography, or bio: A brief narrative account of one’s life and career. Most artists and dealers tend to use bio and résumé interchangeably, so it’s a good idea, if someone requests your “bio,” to confirm whether they are looking for a narrative or the easier-to-peruse résumé..
Here’s a great example of an artist’s bio: "Andrea Polli is a digital media artist living in New Mexico. Her work addresses issues related to science and technology in contemporary society. She is interested in global systems, the real time interconnectivity of these systems, and the effect of these systems on individuals. Polli's work with science, technology and media has been presented widely in over 100 presentations, exhibitions and performances internationally, has been recognized by numerous grants, residencies and awards including UNESCO. Her work has been reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art News, NY Arts and others. She has published two book chapters, several audio CDs, DVDs and many papers in print including MIT Press and Cambridge University Press journals."
As you can see, this opening paragraph includes elements of the artist statement and résumé. You can read more here.
Next week, we can talk about the résumé itself—at what point does “Education” become less important than “Solo Exhibitions,” for instance? And how do midcareer artists deal with the age issue? But for now . . .
Over to you: Do you keep long and short versions of a résumé? If you teach, do you also maintain the conventional cv? And are you confounded when faced with a request to write a bonafide bio?


annell4 said...

I keep both. I assume most people don't read it, only want it to be there. Thanks so much for the post, I will look forward to the next one. Maybe they really don't matter, I was thinking... do you think anyone has ever said, I really don't like the work, but a nice resume?

Casey Klahn said...

I was just asked to edit my One Sheet to include a bio paragraph - it had just exhibition and awards briefs. That was a good idea, and I did it. My bios tend to run short, but I like the one you post because she ends with a short list of awards, too. I never thought of that - I guess I keep the genres too compartmentalized.

That is a funny pic - especially the dumpster in the background.

Nancy Natale said...

This is a good topic to raise, Joanne. As my resume has kept pace with my lengthening career, I have let the older, less consequential shows drop out and be replaced by newer ones so that I keep the overall length to 4 pages.

The example you give of a bio is an excellent model that combines elements of a statement and resume - kind of a onesie that says it all. In exploring the link you provided, I see that Ms. Polli gives two versions of her bio for two audiences. It's interesting to note that the first paragraph of her bio can stand on its own as a short version if she is requested to provide only one paragraph as many shows, galleries, etc. do. I'm going to save her link as a reference for my future bio-writing efforts. Thank you.

Carole Buschmann said...

Thanks for addressing this, I have been totally confused and you have given some good resources.

Kaitlyn S. C Hatch said...

Agreed! This whole business can cause quite a headache. I think you did a lovely job of summarizing though.

My plot is always to trim it to accent the best features and then use my interview to sell the rest.

Fi said...

I absolutely keep long and short versions of my cv/resume. One as a record of everything I've done professionally, and a trimmed version of the highlights.

Alyson B. Stanfield said...

I think we're on the same page here. I always encourage my clients to keep a master résumé so that they always have everything in one place. It's easier to edit down (trim!) than to have to add later.

I love hearing that the gallerist wanted something shorter. I think the most important thing these days is to get to the point. We don't study bios, we want the bio to tell us what we need to know.

There's one other item to throw into the mix these days: About -- a more common heading on websites and blogs.

kim matthews said...

Super helpful; thanks for teasing apart the terminology. I've been setting up a website for an artist friend who's been at this longer than I've been alive, and the more I listen to him, the more I tend to agree: if you're only interested in showing (and talking about) your most recent works, does it really matter what you were doing in a past aesthetic life? A short list of important collections and shows should be enough to demonstrate a track record. If you're doing a career retrospective or catalogue raisonne, that's something else.

Anonymous said...

great read. i keep the long one which list it all but mainly just for myself. i like the combo that you mentioned and since i have been lately working to change the format of my resume, will use it as a model. much thanks for the help.

ETF said...

I've been asked to provide a 'current exhibitions resume, a bio/cv, and an artist statement for an exhibition opportunity i am applying for. I've never been asked for 3 different things, and was confused by current exhibitions-those only being on now?

Unknown said...

thank you for the wonderful post!