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Charles Lewton Brain

Resumes and gallery presentation

by Charles Lewton-Brain - © Brain Press Publications - 2002
The first questions to ask yourself when preparing a resume are: For whom is it intended? What do I want it to represent? Applying for a zoo keepers job you might put down your experience carrying llamas across the Andes but you would probably leave it out when apply for a position as a hair stylist. For galleries you should have information they will be interested in: previous exhibitions; articles on your work and so on that serve to establish you as a serious artist/craftsperson in their eyes.

There are various ways of organizing the information to be presented. When initially contacting a gallery the resume should be one page for ease of reading. Therefore only the most relevant information to the gallery owner is used. It is usual to have information listed in reverse chronological order, that is with the most recent item first. One would thus have several lines on education, exhibitions, awards, articles on your work and if there is any room left a line or so on work experience if necessary. Point form is another approach which lists your strong points.

This might be accompanied by xeroxes of important articles about you or your work. If you have post cards of your work, or exhibition catalogs available they should be included.

The resume, xeroxes etc. serve as an accompaniment to the letter of inquiry personally addressed to the art gallery director or owner. (No "Dear Sir" letters). The package is a "throwaway" and serves as an introduction to the gallery. If the gallery is interested in seeing slides they will contact you using a stamped self addressed post card which you included that has a check box for 'would like to see slides'. By keeping the packages weight down one saves money in the long run by sending slides out only to those galleries really interested in seeing your work. If asked to (or if you like, even on the initial contact to the gallery) you can send the entire presentation package to the gallery which should consist of:

  1. Strong re-usable packaging, preferably with peel and stick return address labels enclosed.
  2. Personal letter to the director or curator
  3. Short resume and possibly full C.V.
  4. Slide page of 20 slides and descriptions. Alternatives include color xeroxes of slides, or prints, color photo labels or other images.
  5. Statement on work.
  6. Xeroxes of articles, B/W photos as necessary.
  7. Return postage for package, separately labeled.

The letter should be a personally addressed, carefully done one. It may touch on one's intentions in the work, reasons for seeking representation at that particular gallery or more pragmatically one's prices for work.

A possible resume organization for presentation to a gallery is:

Name and address at the top, Telephone number
Birthdate (if you feel it necessary)
Education (all dated items most recent first) Formal art education, Academic education, Apprenticeship, work study programs
One-Man Shows Include date, gallery name, city, country
Juried Exhibitions and Group Shows Student exhibitions - if appropriate
Awards and Grants
Work in Collections
Articles about the Applicant (Include newspaper articles) - Author's last name, first name; article title, magazine or newspaper (underlined), pages, date
Work Experience
Travel (if appropriate), Languages (if appropriate)
Special skills or interests (if appropriate) i.e. Something the gallery owner can interest customers with: ". . . and the artist collects poisonous snakes in their spare time".

It is a very good idea to pay for a professional typist to type your resume as they are familiar with typing conventions, make few mistakes and have a professional quality word processor which lends an air of respectability to even a small resume. The copies made should be done on the best quality copier available as the grainy, smeared copies so often produced from over-used equipment detract from the resume. The resume should be in an acetate or vinyl report binder to protect it and add to the presentation. If you have your own computer you will be able to produce quality resumes

The page of numbered slides should have little red dots on the lower left hand corner of each one and your name legible on each. The dot is on the side of the slide which is the correct view of the object (ie you can read the writing). With a black permanent marker draw a little arrow in the top right hand corner of the slide to show which way is up. When the slides are loaded in a carousel the red dot will show so the viewer knows they have the slide upside down and oriented correctly for viewing. Many people like labels on each slide listing title, materials, size, date of the work. The slides, together with a page of numbered slide descriptions, goes in another acetate or vinyl binder. All this looks slick, lets you put less cramped information about each slide on the sheet and allows the viewer to read about the slides while using a projector. Look at slide library slides to learn the conventions for slides.

Xerox copies of important articles may be included as may some black and white glossy prints (5" x 4" min.) for the gallery to use in publicity should they decide to use your work. I have color post cards of my work made every year and because they are cheap per unit i can include color pictures of my work in every package. Color lends a curious validity to one's work. Post cards have the advantage of being already half-tone screened so that they serve admirably for publication in newspapers-a fact that may need pointing out to the recipient. If one makes post cards regularly then one can offer 500 or a thousand cards free to a gallery as exhibition announcements as an incentive. Of course maybe you will get them done by the gallery for free or be able to go halves on a card for a specific show. Always ask for an overrun with such printings.

Finally, you should include return postage. This gives a professional effect (you often get the stamps back) and is a bit of insurance for getting your slides back.

All of the above is a guide, not the only way to do things. However, the better your presentation the more seriously galleries take you and the better your results. This holds especially true when applying for an exhibition in a gallery.


All rights reserved internationally. Copyright © Charles Lewton-Brain. Users have permission to download the information and share it as long as no money is made-no commercial use of this information is allowed without permission in writing from Charles Lewton-Brain.
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