Thursday, July 04, 2013

How to list art exhibitions on a CV or website

At the beginning of June I asked you How do you list your exhibitions on CV or website?

You've been responding all June and the poll received 166 responses.

The three most popular options

In order of popularity, the three top ways of listing art exhibitions on a CV or website were:
  1. always most recent exhibition first (28%)
  2. always include year of exhibition (20%)
  3. always include title of exhibition (18%)
How do you list your exhibitions on CV or website?
CLICK THE IMAGE to see the chart at full size

Always most recent exhibition first - This chimes well with the notion that people want to see what you've achieved recently and where your work can be seen at the present time.  They're much less interested in how you started out - so listings should always start with the most recent and work backwards.

Always include year of exhibition  - When an artist says he or she exhibited with a major art gallery - but it turns out that was many years ago - that undermines my confidence in that individual.  When I find there's actually a very good correlation between what the CV or website say and what the text says in their promotional material or website OF THE GALLERY, my trust in that artist is enhanced.  It's very unwise to say something on your website/CV which is not endorsed by the associated gallery.  (The most obvious one is to suggest you are a gallery artist when actually you showed a piece of art in a group show a long time ago!)

Also I want to see how an artist has progressed over the years.  Did they have a big bang and then tail off.  Does their career go in fits and starts? Or is it a steady upward trajectory in terms of frequency of exhibitions and steady improvement in the quality of the gallery where they show.

Always include title of exhibition - The titles of solo exhibitions are important because they provide a clue to what an artist is about. I'm personally not a fan of esoteric and obtuse titles for the sake of it.  My personal view is that titles also have less importance if essentially they relate to the annual exhibition of a group of artists.

Less popular options

Also in order of of descending popularity
  • every solo exhibition - date order
  • all group exhibitions - date order
  • select list of both solo and group exhibitions
  • all solo & major group exhibitions only 
Common sense obviously needs to be applied here.  Who ever reads long, long lists of exhibitions?  Not many I'll be bound - hence if you repeat the same exhibition every year then state the name and say when you started and how many times you've exhibited.

In contrast, which of you are impressed when an artist provides a sufficient but moderate amount of information e.g. the countries they've exhibited in or the names of people or institutions or museums who have the artists's work in their collections.  It always says "serious and highly rated artist" to me.

Think about it - it's rather like applying for a job.  When was the last time you mentioned the name of your primary school on a CV?  School qualifications become much less important as you achieve first and higher degrees and professional qualifications.  The same principle applies to exhibitions.  

Options which found little support

These are also in order but start with the LEAST POPULAR.
  • every solo exhibition - group by type / venue / date
  • always oldest exhibition first 
  • all group exhibitions - group by type / venue / date
We simply don't need to know it all. Keep a list by all means - but keep it on your computer not on your website or in your gallery's promotional materials.  Also do not go back to the year dot!

7 Tips for drafting lists of exhibitions

In summary:
  1. Keep it simple
  2. Understand what people want to know
  3. Stick to what's important
  4. Start with the most recent
  5. Eliminate the less important and the long ago
  6. Make sure your CV is always up to date
  7. Make sure your website is always current

I'll post the Making A Mark Poll for July on Saturday.

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