What to do with a gap in your artist resume

GloverDuring last week’s smARTist Telesummit (which was AWESOME, by the way!), I received this question from Judith Glover. She asks:

My resume from 14 years ago when I was a watercolor artist is impressive, but I didn't create art between then and now. My new work is totally different. I am involved it art quilts and machine needle felting. I do actually paint fabric and include that in my quilts and my needle felting looks painterly. To what extent should I fall back on highlights of my 14 year old resume, considering the gap between? What if I were to include some new watercolor paintings in my current work? Would that change how I could use my old resume?

Judith, this is a great question and I’m sure you’d receive a different answer from someone else. However, as you know, my background is as a curator and educator in art museums. In museums, we tend to look at the entire artist’s oeuvre, whereas a gallery might just be interested in the most recent work.

Just know you’re not alone. The 14-year gap is not uncommon, especially among women who have set aside their careers to raise a family. Still, it does leave one to wonder: What was she up to? And then the focus becomes the gap rather than your accomplishments.

This can be taken care of nicely in a biography since it’s in paragraph form and you don’t have to list dates where you don’t want to. If that’s an option, I’d suggest opting for a bio over a resume.

Without presuming anything, my guess is that your new career hasn’t brought much for your resume yet. If that’s the case, a 14-year-old resume would look rather stark. If, however, you have a few things to add to your old resume, do it. And hold your head up proudly for all that you’ve accomplished (including those lost 14 years)! Pretty soon, you'll have so much new stuff that you'll be able to leave off your former life as a watercolorist.

In my opinion, it’s not the difference in the mediums that matters, but the gap in your activity as an artist building a career. So, don’t worry about having watercolor accomplishments AND fiber accomplishments on the same resume. Does that make sense?

Image: © Judith Glover.

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6 thoughts on “What to do with a gap in your artist resume”

  1. Judith G. Glover

    Yes this does make sense. Where might I fnd a biography written by an artist or any person, as a repalcement for a resume? I used a dateless resume when I was applying for jobs after I got a second degree, but I don’t think this is what you mean. It was bulleted and not in paragraph form. If you don’t have time to respond further that is fine; take good care of your husband, and I am so sorry to hear that he broke his ankle. Thanks for your help. Judy

  2. Alyson B. Stanfield

    Judy, you can use a bio (and should) in place of a resume on a website. Resumes look boring, but a well-written bio would be great for a website (and search engines). A bio is basically a resume in paragraph form, but the gaps don’t show up quite as much. Also, these days, your bio should entertain as much as it informs.

  3. For most of my adult life I had my own company as an accessory designer. For a while I freelanced and at that point I decided to go back to my original love, painting. I started painting portraits. I have been painting portraits since 2007 and have been in some local shows since 2007. This year I have started a series of abstract paintings that I would like to present to the world. I am so confused.. Do I write a bio or do I write a resume. Please Help!!!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      You need a resume, Carol. Put it all on paper.

      BUT . . . then turn it into a bio. Much more interesting.

  4. Great stuff Alyson! I found this at the perfect time! I am just starting to write my fist artist’s Bio. I wonder if you might have a few bio’s that you could recommend for inspiration? Thank you!

    1. Good question, Shari. I need to start a collection. I’ll try to pay attention and do a future post. TRY.
      Let me know if you read a good one!

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