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It sounds so simple, right? Who is more equipped to write about your life and work than you? Well, sometimes it can be the hardest thing to write your own biography because you are too personally involved or are conscious about sounding too boastful. How do you decide which life events are important? Which aren’t? Organizing your own artistic journey into a succinct story can be a big challenge. Luckily, Silapix art consultants are here to help. In this guide, we’ll explain why you need an artist biography and what should be included in it. We will also offer an insight into what galleries are actually looking for when they read your artist biography.
It has become industry standard to have an artist biography prepared. It should be in your portfolio and on your website. Additionally, once you start exhibiting, this artist bio will find its way onto gallery websites, exhibition materials, and may even be quoted in interviews. While you may want to customize your bio for every situation, it is a good idea to have one all-purpose text prepared at all times. Your artist biography is necessary for most competition entries, gallery and museum submissions, and promotional requests. It is one of the first things that anyone will reference on your website in order to decide if they would be interested in working with you.
Being an artist today can be a challenge. As the art industry expands, there is a growing demand for professionalism. There is a long list of necessary (and optional) documents and exhibition materials, like an artist statement, Business Cards, a Portfolio and so on. You could obviously hire someone or collaborate with a representational gallery to take care of the marketing and publicity. However, there are three important documents that have to come from you: CV, statement, and biography. People often confuse the three but they actually serve completely different purposes.
An artist CV is a timeline of your education, your exhibition history, awards, projects, and press you’ve received. It tells a reader what you have done in the past, whether it includes previous exhibitions, awards, etc., and lets them decide whether you are the right fit for the job/exhibition. You could argue that it is basically the artist biography in list form. However, your artist biography includes more information about you as an artist and not just bullet points.
An artist biography talks about your work and your ideas and inspirations. It incorporates your history and connects how your life events have influenced your artwork. Were you born, but have always longed for a countryside lifestyle? Is that why you’re an acclaimed rural landscape painter? That’s not going to find its way onto your CV, but the artist biography is the perfect place for that information. Whatever you do, wherever you’re from, it all comes together to create your style and the artwork that you want to share.
An artist statement is much more similar to your biography. More often than not, it is the front line of communication between an artist and the public. It will be used when you submit your portfolio to competitions, galleries, and museums. It is also usually displayed alongside your works during exhibitions and in galleries. This gives it a sort of flexible nature. You might have to write a new statement for every exhibition if your works are versatile. The artist biography, however, remains more or less the same. You would only need to update it in case of any major changes to your status or developments in your work. Another major difference between the two documents is that an artist statement is always written in the first person while a biography always talks about you in the third person. The infographic at the bottom of the page differentiates between all three of these essential artist documents.
No matter how old you are, you’ve lived a full life of major events and wonderful memories. However, your artist biography needs to be no longer than one printed page. For some submissions, it’ll be even shorter. That’s why you need to narrow your artist biography down to the key points: show the reader where you’ve been and where you want to go as an artist. The best way to get started is to understand your own artistic path. By answering just a few key questions about yourself, you can figure out what those critical points were in your life that have most influenced your journey as an artist. After all is said and done, make sure to remember that your artist biography will grow and change with you. Don’t be afraid to edit your bio as your artistic style changes, as inspirations come and go, or as techniques and subjects develop with time. No artist creates the exact same works over and over again, and your biography should reflect that movement through your artistic journey.