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  • Timothy Lenko

Creating Your Artist or Musician CV

Applying for a grant or gig and need a CV? Keep reading for our tips on creating a professional and creative document that leaves a great impression.


Sometimes the stack of applicants is pretty tall. Making a good impression on the page is crucial even if the people making the hire or granting the funds are familiar with you and your work.


Here is our guide to crafting your professional artist or musician CV.


1. Formatting

Whether tailoring the look of your CV thrills or intimidates you, DO NOT get hung up on fonts, colours, lines, and bullet-list images. It is a dark hole of wasted creative energy.


Decide right away whether you will do it from scratch or with a template and focus the bulk of your energy on the content.


If you are formatting your CV from scratch in a word processor, keep it simple:

  • Use a clean, professional font like Montserrat or Open Sans.

  • Make your body text size 12 or 13.

  • Include headings before each section, around size 15 or 16.

  • Bullet lists of your information increases readability.

Another excellent option is to use a template provided in your word processor or from a free CV and resume website like Resume Nerd.


Most sites only want your email address in exchange for their template and will format for you as you enter your information in a form.


2. Contact Information

Never assume that your CV will stay attached to an email or application form. Include your contact information with your name at the top of your CV.


Jane Doe

306.333.0066 | jd@janedoe.com | janedoe.com


Only include your website if it is relevant to the work or funding for which you are applying.


3. Introductory Comment

Give your reader a sense of who you are and what you bring over all. What are you focused on artistically? What instrument or medium is your forte? What inspires you? Is there a particular audience or demographic of students of special interest to you?


A conservatory-trained guitarist fascinated with funk and jazz. Session work, live gigs, private instruction: Jeremy brings professionalism, collaboration, and daring innovation to every setting.


My pottery seeks to capture the tempestuous conditions experienced on the Prairies and the resilience of those who live here. I am eager to help adults and children with disabilities gain confidence through art and develop their own resilience.


After assembling the rest of your information (Education, Employment, Awards, Exhibitions, etc.) return to this portion and refine it with the body of your CV in mind. Does what you listed support the introductory comment you’ve written?


4. Education

Have you completed any relevant training? Accredited programs, mentorships, private instruction?


University of Toronto, Toronto, BC

Bachelors of Music: Cello Performance (2019)

Minor in Composition.


Painting Certificate (2021)

Emily Carr University of Art & Design, Vancouver, BC


Begin with either your most recent or your highest level of education completed and ensure each entry includes:

  • Title of the certification.

  • Name of the training institution.

  • Year of completion.

  • Any special awards, minors, or capstone projects that are relevant to THIS specific application.

Read more about listing your education on a CV.


5. Body of Work

This section should be specifically named for what kind of work your presenting: “Exhibitions,” “Credits,” “Publications,” etc.


Exhibitions

  • 2022 “Strawmen of Iron.” Solo exhibition, Moose Jaw Cultural Centre Visual Arts Gallery. Moose Jaw, SK

  • 2021 “No Place Like Home.” Coordinated exhibition with thirteen artists, Kerry Vickar Centre. Melfort SK.

  • 2021 “Nesting.” Solo exhibition, Collector’s Choice Art Gallery. Saskatoon SK.


Performances

  • 2022 Concert. Hive Espresso Bar, Moose Jaw, SK.

  • 2022 Keys for Megan Nash concert. Lyric Theatre, Swift Current SK.

  • 2021 Lead guitar for “Regina’s Christmas Smash!” Rainbow Road, Regina SK.

  • 2021 Keys for Billy Jöelle “Love Does” tour. Canada & US.

Start by listing everything in your body of work that is relevant to the application you are making. Then begin to group them under headings that reflect what you are presenting.


It is CRUCIAL to include links to videos of you performing or images of your artwork. Your reader will be looking to see how polished your act or art is and will feel so much more confident about engaging you if they get the sense that you know what you're doing.


6. Employment

This is probably the most familiar portion of a CV. We are all used to including our past employment on a resumé. List relevant employment from most recent to least.


You may even make your heading “Employment & Residencies” to include the latter if applicable.


7. Any Other Sections?

Write down anything else that is relevant to your application, and ask whether they warrant another section: awards, professional affiliations, memberships, prestigious grants, collections in which your work is included?


If you haven’t caught on yet, your watch-word is RELEVANT. If you have something in your life that will help your reader become more familiar with how much you bring to the table, find a professional and clear way of demonstrating that relevance.


8. Interpreting Job or Grant Descriptions

Once all your material is entered (or you can do this as you go), review the call for applicants and pay particular attention to the exact phrases of what they’re looking for. Then use that to present each entry on your CV in the most relevant light possible.


Are they “looking for a university-trained, performance seasoned musician”? Re-write the entries you can to include the exact words “university” and “performance” (provided it is truthful!)


Are they “seeking an artist with experience leading workshops, especially with children”? Use the exact words “workshops” and “children” where it’s applicable.


Is a purpose of the organization or grant “to promote local community cohesion” or “to create programming for underserved groups”? Find what you bring to the table and present with their exact words so they don’t miss the relevance.


Best Foot Forward

Whether or not your reader knows you personally, your Artist’s CV should help them see the best side of your most relevant qualities. Take time to put it together, AND know when it's just time to push “send.”