Table of Contents » Chapter 3 : Being Professional » Chapter 3 : Being Professional > On Paper

Chapter 3 : Being Professional > On Paper

On occasion, students think that since they are students and as well as artists, they do not have to be as professional. This is absolutely not true. It is very important to be professional and responsible at all times. Build bridges – don’t burn them! The following information can help you with this.

Read Sandy Simon’s, Avra Leodas, and Jeff Guido’s interviews in Chapter 9 for more information about working with galleries. In addition, “Art / Work” by Bhandari & Melber,  is a great book about being a professional in an artistic career.

Resume / CV (Curriculum Vitae)

Often artists will have several different resumes, one for exhibitions, one for employment, or one even for grants. Regardless of style, a strong clean resume is very important. More...

  • A resume is a brief listing of your experience-specific highlights and is usually 1-3 pages.
  • A CV is everything that you have done.
  • Look at other artists’ resumes to find out what style works for you.
  • Different styles use the order of information and quantity of information to tailor to the needs of the application.
  • No typos or spelling errors in your resume! Always put your name on each page of your resume, and have the pages numbered.

College Art Association
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The Practical Art World
Sample CV

Artist Statement

It is important to have a clear artist statement. Write about your ideas, processes, and interest. Usually, an Artist’s Statement changes or parts of it change with each body of work or exhibition. It is not a biography; it is a statement about your artwork. More...

It is very important that it is readable, try and stay away from unintelligible art rhetoric. Read a lot of other art statements to help you decide what you want to write about and why. Ultimately, this statement represents and explains your artwork. It is very important to keep your artist statement up to date, especially if it’s on your website. Generally, folks read your artist statement when they are interested in your work, so select your words carefully, and have someone else read it back to you, to make sure you are saying what you mean.

Recommended Book about Artist Statements:
Writing the Artist Statement.  Goodwin, Ariane. ISBN-10: 0741408430
Publisher: Infinity Publishing.[/read]

Writing About Art
Essay by Liz Howe

“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” – Elvis Costello

Great quote, and in, part so true. And yet there is the human urge to interpret, understand or alight upon that to which we are so visually drawn. Writing is a means through which the eye, the hand, the heart and the mind commune to illuminate the artwork.

It is a deep form of appreciation that connects the artist, the writer and the wider audience in an open conversation. The artist offers the work to the world, the writer offers a response. The audience is offered free entry into further discussion, thought and consideration of the artist’s work.

Writing about art is like dancing to music. A good writer dives into the work; dipping under the surface to explore not just the melody. She invites the work to reveal its hidden structures through timbre, harmony and rhythm. She takes the time to dance along. She slows down and listens to the work.

This act is not commerce, it is not celebrity, personality or autobiography.

Strong writing about art tunes out other stations long enough to listen and feel. A good writer intensely engages the art work and the resonance it transmits. Each review, each article, each deeply considered note written in gallery comment books across the world breathes vital energy into the creative process. This process fuels creative life for the artist, as the artist’s work fuels creative life for the writer.

The writer’s archetypal ‘typewriter’ is currently cluttered with information. Turning on the computer yields constant internet chatter; daily technical tricks exposed, exhibition announcements, images of new work or what our favorite artist had for breakfast! Snippets of information such as these connect us through the alluring cult of personality but they do not feed contemplation, introspection or study. The pace of wisdom is much slower.
The writer Jeanette Winterson states:
“Right now human beings as a mass, have a gruesome appetite for what they call ‘real’, whether it’s Reality TV or the kind of plodding fiction that only works as low-grade documentary, or at the better end, the factual programs and biographies and ‘true life’ accounts that occupy the space where imagination used to sit.Such a phenomenon points to a terror of the inner life, of the sublime, of the poetic, of the non-material, of the contemplative.”
And just like the artist aims to express an inner urging and make connection with the wider world the writer must dig into the inner life of the artwork she examines. Offering her words so that, “other voices might be heard, speaking of the life of the mind and the soul’s journey.”

I invite you to engage with and enter into the life of work that draws you in. Sit with it and and feel, be with it then respond. Seek to know more about it and share those thoughts with others…with the artist, with the world. In this way you participate in and offer energy to the creative life. In the process your own creativity will be enlivened.


When preparing your portfolio for applying to schools, grants, artist-in-residence, or whatever, these are some things to keep in mind:More...

  • Present images of your work in whatever format is requested (dropbox, flash drive, weblink, existing application format like artshow ( and CaFE (
  • label your images specifically how they request – this is important!
  • Select images that show the view what YOU want them to see in your work, so if small detail is important, then include that and so on.
  • Some details are good, a lot may look like you don’t have very much work (maybe true?)
  • Show the viewer what is important for them to know about you – do they need to see the drawing that you made in 6th grade – most likely not. A common question on what to select is the importance of showing that you make pottery and/or sculpture – show what’s important to you
  • Use good images (see under chapter 7, documentation)
  • Get a second opinion from a trusted friend, mentor, or teacher.

“A portfolio is a selection of your artwork that represents the variety and quality of your capabilities as an artist… it exemplifies who you are as an artist. It also gives a sense of your passion and work ethic in relation to your art. The work should demonstrate knowledge and versatility of media and subject matter. (Kansas City Art Institute)”

Letters of Recommendation

When applying for programs and employment, you may be asked for letters of recommendation, or a list of references. These are things to keep in mind:

Do not assume that your reference is willing to write a letter for you, they are not required to. If they cannot write a letter this does not necessarily mean that they do not want to recommend you, rather, they may have already committed to other letters or do not have time.More...

Be thoughtful of who you are asking, think about if they have the information needed to recommend you or not Do ask family members or friends only if they have specific experience that would benefit your application.

Send an email to your recommender asking if they would be willing to write you a letter. If they are, you must send them this information:

  • a description of the position you are applying for
  • when the deadline is
  • what the address is that the letter should be sent
  • the name and phone number of the person conducting the search
  • a brief statement of your interest in this position

Give the recommender at least THREE WEEKS to write your letter. After two weeks, it is okay to send a very brief reminder. Remember to send a thank you letter to your recommender after the deadline, and let the recommender know if you got the position.

Information Request

It is common in our field to freely share information. However, this should not be taken for granted. If you are requesting information from an artist, for example, glaze recipes or building techniques there is some protocol to this. It is important to include this information:More...

Research the information that you want (it is very poor form to email a request for information that already is on their web page)

  • who you are
  • how you came across their artwork
  • why you would like this information and how you will use it
  • very politely ask if they are willing to share the information
  • thank the artist for their time

Be brief and polite. Do not demand or assume that they will share their hard-earned information. Give them a reasonable amount of time to respond to you, at least two weeks. If you are requesting information or images for a school assignment, give the artist at least three weeks to get you this information – the night before the presentation is too late to request information.

If the artist does not get back to you, you could send a second email, or let it go. I have heard of an artist getting 16 requests for glaze information in ONE DAY. The artist may not respond simply because they want to get to their studio. If they are able to get information to you, let them know that you received it and send them a thank you.

Thank you letters

Once a gallery owner told me she had received a thank you letter from one of the artists for selling his work. She was amazed! I guess that does not happen very often. Thank you letters are always a good idea, whether you be invited to a workshop or exhibition, studio tour or employment opportunity. A brief follow thank you letter with a small but meaningful detail in the note is a good idea.


Whenever you have an exhibition or teach a workshop, you should have a contract – they help everyone to be clear on the expectations of everyone. More...

Things to ask about are reimbursement for travel, cost or room, and board, how long is the obligation, if you are bringing work to see at the workshop, how do you host to deal with this, are they advertising the workshop/lecture, and so on. Try to think ahead and troubleshoot before your head out the door. There is a great section on contracts in “Art / Work” by Bhandari & Melber


“The GYT Forms page is where you can download helpful forms, contracts, checklists, and worksheets to get you organized and get your sh*t together. From budget goals to portfolio evaluations, we want to assist you and your art career in every way possible.”

The College Art Association

The CAA website is an excellent source for professional information and advocacy of the arts. Their website features a plethora of resources for career artists to art historians to art administrators.

Business and Legal Forms for Crafts by Tad Crawford

The Law in Plain English for Crafts by Leonard Duboff