independent research

Writing a Fine Art CV

As a part of my course we’re required to submit a CV. As I’ve already got a standard working CV I thought it would be useful for me to have a fine art CV as well that relates to my practice and creative projects. It was around this point that I realised I had no idea how to actually write an art CV, especially considering that I’m only a student and have relatively little experience.

So I decided that some research was in order.

What should be in a fine art CV:

  • Your personal details. ie/ name, date of birth (optional), your country and/or county and contact details (professional contact details – so your official website, professional email address and work phone number if you have one). Include a short bio/statement about your practice
  • Education. ie/ Education relating specifically to art that occurs after high school so A-Levels, BTECs and degrees go here. Include the institution, year that you graduated/achieved the award. Don’t include qualifications that aren’t related to art here. You could include classes and courses you’ve attended and the names of tutors/artists you’ve studied under
  • Exhibitions. List them with the most recent first (you can also put your upcoming exhibitions on). Put the year, title of the show (in italics), the institution and where it is if it is not included in the institution title. If appropriate, split them into categories of solo or group exhibitions. Often artists who both happen to have a very large number of exhibitions have them under the title of ‘selected exhibitions’ (so that the list isn’t too long and not that relevant) and artists, like me, who haven’t had a large number of exhibitions also do this to give the impression that list is a selection and not simply all you have. You can be opportunistic and list some not 100% official exhibitions if you include things like site-specific installations in this section.
  • Collections. Here you include institutions that own your artwork like museums, city councils, galleries, agencies corporate collections… If you’re listing private collections don’t write the name of the owner unless they’re either a very well known collector or have agreed to be on your CV – just write ‘private collection’ and the city.  Don’t put the same city twice.  You can be opportunistic and include friends/family you’ve given your artwork to as long as you don’t make it obvious and don’t include their names. If you have loads then don’t list them all, just put a small selection of them on.
  • Commissions. They show someone has trusted you with their money to create artwork that adheres to a brief.
  • Other headings eg/:
  1. Teaching eg/ guest lecturer, instructor, workshop leader, technician…
  2. Curation. List the date, title and where it was at.
  3. Awards/grants/competitions (if placed)
  4. Residencies. Include the year and name of residency, maybe a short outlining sentence about it
  5. Related work experience/volunteering/arts projects
  6. Professional groups. If you’re a member of any related professional groups they can go here, including social networks
  7. Freelance work/self-employment
  8. Texts. This is where your published writing about your practice/art goes if you have any.
  9. Publications. Any articles/books/media where you/your art has been written about.

It should all be black with a sensible font. It should consist of headings and bullet point style information – try to keep the layout simple yet aesthetically pleasing. The length should be between 1-2 pages but for those of us who have less experience and are just graduating a full two page length fine art CV may be expecting a little ambitious at this stage.

This information has been complied from thepracticalartworld as well as pages here, here and here.

An example of a fine art CV is here.

independent research, Uncategorized

Advice on Getting Illustration Work

My notes are taken from Will Terry’s video here.

  • It’s rare for art directors to actually see you in person – generally they have less time than ever now. Occasionally there’s policies to leave samples or portfolios with them but unless you live in the same city there’s not much point as there’s other things you can do to get a better ratio of time to success
  • Art directors are always looking for new work – postcards are actually quite big
  • https://svslearn.com/   – careers advice for illustration and so on (requires a paid subscription though)
  • Advices against portfolio sites. Sees them as a ‘deadzone’ and only got 1 opportunity after a year that costed around $300. They tend to be avoided by art directors because they’re no where near as constantly updated as sites like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Not target rich environments
  • Art directors are afraid of artists. They’ll find an artist they think is perfect for the job but they’ll worry you won’t deliver – the quality might not be up to your portfolio, you might not stick to the brief, you might be resistant to changing your ideas
  • Often your work will be pitched but you’ll never find out
  • Your job is to make them comfortable with your portfolio
  • You need to start from lower level projects if you’ve just graduated – otherwise art directors aren’t going to stake their reputation on suggesting you as a potential illustrator
  • Sometimes working for free or for a low amount means that you’re being taken advantage of but it also could lead to more opportunities. Sometimes you might be able to say that if you’re working for such a low amount or free you can add terms like you get to make the final decisions for that project. The person who says they’re never being taken advantage of is often the person that never does anything at all
  • Make projects not just portfolios. If you spend your time creating a project you might pay for it, Kickstart it, sell it somehow that makes it out there and more exposed than just an online portfolio. So it generates more leads, contacts and opportunities that you wouldn’t normally get with a portfolio
  • The longer you are out there making art, the more opportunities you will stumble across and the more contacts you will make
  • You have to learn by doing and learn by failing
  • Some people keep a spreadsheet of their mailing list – with every person they meet at a show and show on. When they’re put in the database they’ll be coded and details like what they’re interested in will be put in. So if they make a painting and find contact who’s interested in that kind of painting they can contact them
independent research

Advice on Getting Noticed as an Illustrator

These notes of from Will Terry’s video on How to Get Noticed as an Illustrator:

  • Except to make mistakes. They’ll eventually lead to successes
  • Some people make fanart to gain a following as well as freelancing and painting – fanart isn’t something you’d have on a professional portfolio but it tends to exist because the creators enjoy making it (and it’s possible to sell prints at events like Comic Con). It’s not really a way of making much of an income, it tends to just be for fun although it can bring you more attention from the group of fans from the thing that you’re making fanart for
  • If you make art that you’re passionate about, are enjoying and are interested in then it’s much likelier to stand out
  • Consider having an agent/representative
  • He claims that as long as you make the best art you can and put it somewhere where it can be seen eventually it will be noticed
  • Recommends a ‘jab jab punch’ for social media – the punch being about something that you can buy (eg/ prints) and the jabs being other things
  • He claims how much you post/the frequency of how much you post on social media doesn’t really make that much difference compared to the quality of your art
  • Assume when you’re starting out that your work isn’t as good as it going to be and that’s why it takes a long time to establish yourself
  • Try having a network of artists that you see as better than you are as a motivator for your improvement. You can see their skills, techniques, a glimpse into how they market themselves, their portfolios and so on
independent research

Advice on How to Become an Illustrator

This information has been gathered from a couple of Will Terry’s videos on careers as an illustrator. His YouTube channel is here:

  • It’s rare for art directors to actually see you in person – generally they have less time than ever now. Occasionally there’s policies to leave samples or portfolios with them but unless you live in the same city there’s not much point as there’s other things you can do to get a better ratio of time to success
  • Art directors are always looking for new work – postcards are actually quite successful or pursuing people to look at your work
  • https://svslearn.com/   – careers advice for illustration and so on
  • He advices against portfolio sites. He sees them as a ‘deadzone’ and only got 1 opportunity after a year that costed around $300. They tend to be avoided by art directors because they’re no where near as constantly updated as sites like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Basically, they’re not ‘target rich environments’
  • Don’t be too afraid of art directors – art directors might actually be more afraid of artists. They’ll find an artist they think is perfect for the job but they’ll worry you won’t deliver – the quality might not be up to your portfolio, you might not stick to the brief, you might be resistant to changing your ideas
  • Often your work will be pitched but you’ll never find out so try not to be too discouraged if it seems that you’re not getting much consideration
  • Your job is to make the art directors comfortable with your portfolio
  • You need to start from lower level projects if you’ve just graduated – otherwise art directors aren’t going to stake their reputation on suggesting you as a potential illustrator
  • Sometimes working for free or for a low amount means that you’re being taken advantage of but it also could lead to more opportunities. Sometimes you might be able to say that if you’re working for such a low amount or free you can add terms like you get to make the final decisions for that project. The person who says they’re never being taken advantage of is often the person that never does anything at all
Concept Art Research, independent research

Getting into Concept Art Industry

Notes from a video on getting into the concept art industry by Ahmed Aldoori:

  • You need great work and need to be great to work with
  • Concept artists can often do illustration and vice versa but the two aren’t necessarily interchangeable – concept art can be more about ideas (eg/ you can design armour and have an image of leather but you don’t necessarily have to draw all the leather depending on what you’re designing for) but illustration tends to be more about a finalised drawing/painting
  • Place yourself in the position of the art director/designer and know that you need to choose your team – try to objectively examine your own work with this in mind. What does your work have that others don’t? How does your work compare to theirs?
  • Learning the technical skills is only the first part. Knowing the industry is another, as is learning to market yourself. You need to know what you want to design ie/ environments, characters, vehicles, weapons or maybe even all of the above.  Do your research
  • Learn to design – setting yourself your own project is a great way of doing this. Try not to make generic paintings that look too much like other people’s. Learn to take criticism well
  • Don’t annoy people by emailing art directors everyday – get noticed by having an impressive portfolio or doing a project
  • Take opportunities that you may not be that interested it at first so you get your name out there and prove you can do projects reliably
  • Try to get in touch with your distinctive art style and what interests you rather than what you think would become popular online or what you think it should look like (eg/ hyper-realistic). Market yourself by making your portfolio unique and try to avoid cliches. Know that art directors will have seen hundreds/thousands of portfolios and if you have attempted to mimic another artist there is a high likelihood that they’ll notice
independent research

Selling Online/On Etsy

Most of this information was geared towards selling on Etsy but it also applies to running any online shop too. Sources for these notes are from here and here:

  • Consider starting out selling just digital products and then moving on to physical items – there’s no shipping/packaging/merchandising involved with purely digital products so if you’re new to figuring out how to sell stuff online it may be easier this way
  • Have lots of items – not just a few. It puts people off if you only have a small amount of products in your shop. Psychologically it can make people more uncomfortable as it makes you seem more unprofessional and less legitimate. Aim to have around 20 cohesive items rather than just a handful
  • If you have loads of items in your shop make sure you don’t have the ones that aren’t selling obscuring the ones that are selling well – look at your sale statistics and make decisions accordingly. Eg/ arrange your best selling items to be at top of your shop
  • On Etsy you can copy listings by clicking on it and going into manage and and pressing copy to save time
  • The appearance is important for sales – think about product photography (bright minimalist photos), colour coding your items by type, fonts and so on. Edit the photographs so they advertise the product as well as they can
  • Market your Etsy site on your other social media channels and your site too – don’t expect Etsy to send all the traffic to you
  • Learn to use Etsy SEO – about descriptions, titles and tags and optimising how many views you get. The more descriptive and specific words you use to describe the product the better
  • Have a strongly written About section – make it in depth, explaining your process and story to really promote your processes/creativity/skills and humanise your products
  • Banner image – you don’t necessarily have to have them to be successful. If you’re struggling with the graphics/size/look and it compromises the overall aesthetic of the shop then don’t have one
  • Be accurate with your turnaround times. Your customer service matters – it can make them repeat customers and they can also leave positive feedback on your page which makes you more reputable. Try to have a relatively short turnaround time. Consider putting photos/updates if you have lots of products that you’re selling on your social media to both promote what you’re selling and also inform your customers where the product is at
independent research

Running an Etsy Shop

These notes are taken from Kendyll Hillegas’s Q&A video on running an Etsy shop here.

  • Other alternatives are Society6 or Redbubble but she prefers personal touch to Etsy
  • Best way to make prints – depends on type of art. Eg/ work 18-24 inches or under can be scanned with a decent scanner. If significantly larger or not flat then shooting in RAW best or using a tripod best. Can look up videos of shooting artwork for reproduction because they’re loads of great in depth resources out there
  • Process – all orders ship on a specific day of the week. So the day before all the work to printing the prints and so on happens. File format best for printer depends on the printer too – obviously want a high definition. Also need high quality paper (300gsm) for prints. A paper cutter may need to be used depending on paper size. Let the print sit for a few hours to ensure they dry even if it says it’s instant drying
  • Consider getting a business address that isn’t your home address when you start to get more established – you can speak to the post office about it
  • Shipping/posting – she uses flat shipping with the print between two pieces of cardboard and includes a thank you notice print with contact information and a business card and used a decorative tape with the packaging and attaching the business cards and so on. On Etsy you can just go to your account and click on the track shipping thing that you can use calculate automatically based on the weight/size and print out
  • Posts regularly on instagram, tumblr, twitter and facebook as well as having giveaways on there as a way of marketing and tries to make it cohesive and consistent in terms of overall vibe
  • She updated online every week or every few days when she first got started – closer to every month now as she’s far more established. A product expires on Etsy after three months unless you want to relist it. Consider taking things down or prioritising other pieces of your work if they’re not selling very well
  • If you want to sell other items apart from prints like T-shirts then bear in mind you’d have to learn not only how to make them but how to package and ship them properly which can be both time and space consuming
  • Making items searchable – have sensible titles, descriptions and well researched tags. Imagine you’re the customer and that you’re trying to search for one of your items when tagging. You could then do test searches and see whether you’re products are coming up and where they are. Take a look at those who come up first – what tags are they using, titles, what are their product photos like, their prices, how they ship and so on
  • There’s loads of information about the technical aspect of using Etsy but before opening an Etsy shop figure out:
  1. What you’re going on sell and how
  2. What your niche/category is
  3. Research other sellers in the same category,
  4. Determine your pricing and shipping, purchase shipping supplies
  5. Make shop branding
  6. Draft your shop policies and about pages
  7. Take good product photos/scans and figure out what you’re going to do for your listing photos
  8. Set up your listings with descriptions, photos and tags and organise shop sections if you need to

Things that aren’t included in the video (information from here):

  • Etsy charges approximately 16p although you’re supposed to get your first 40 listings for free when you first open your shop
  • You’re charged 3.5% of the price not including shipping (this is the transaction price)
  • Your Etsy bill comes in at the end of each month which includes listing fees, transaction fees and shipping labels you’ve purchased through Etsy
  • If you’re receiving your payment through PayPal it also has a charge per transaction as well as 2.7% of the total money (the item price and shipping) and doing the direct checkout also has similar transaction fees and a percentage of the money collected. These charges are pretty standard across similar sites
  • Your Etsy site is far far likelier to get higher traffic than your own site and people browsing Etsy are looking for things to buy. You also can get buyer feedback on Etsy so people are likelier to trust you