An artist bio is a brief, narrative version of your professional career. It is the integration of your artist résumé and artist statement.

It may be used in exhibition catalogues, promotional materials, publicity, on your artist website, etc. Usually people, including collectors, read the artist bio before they get to the résumé and the statement. Therefore the bio is your chance to establish your practice and leave them wanting more.

Many artist bios are comprised of boring biographical statements that seem like they were taken straight from a résumé and placed into a paragraph. Artists aren’t boring people, so why should their artist bios be? The bio is first impression, so it should act as the hook of your professional package.

Example of a baseline boring artist bio:

John Doe will received his BFA in Studio Art in 2016 from the University of Oklahoma with a concentration in painting. He currently resides in Gulf Breeze, Florida. His work has been exhibited in student shows within the University of Oklahoma and awarded through feminist and veteran programs.

Artists in academia are sometimes guided to write their statements in this manner. This is so they have a baseline bio to intensify and edit as their career progresses. Unfortunately, many of these baseline bios are neglected and are forever boring.

Guidelines for writing an effective and intriguing artist bio:

1. Open your your bio with a bang

Your first line should express what’s most significant about you as an artist and your work.

John Doe is instrumental in establishing an essence of movement with organic ceramic forms.

This praise is optional but if used correctly, can be very luring. It’s confident, but not cocky. Avoid wording this praise as if it comes from fans, such as the following:

Incorrect: John Doe is considered to be instrumental in establishing an essence of movement with organic ceramic forms.

Incorrect: John Doe is widely regarded for establishing an essence of movement with organic ceramic forms.

2. Continue with specifics

Continue with specifics of your artist practice, such as mediums, techniques, influences, concepts, etc. Simultaneously, throw in some career highlights, which may include an art degree, fellowship, or award.

Often working with oil on wood, he/she creates compositions by layering monochromatic pigments, engaging in ideas of Abstract Expressionism of the mid 20th century. To enhance this effect, she/he often applies matte and glossy finishes interchangeably. After receiving his/her MFA from the New York Academy of Art, a job at a glass company inspired his/her first series that involved light refractions and illusions of perspective. Justified by his/her techniques and concepts, he/she is the recipient of numerous awards and residencies, including the Rose Child Foundation Award and a Crosby Fellowship to Italy.

Avoid a comical tone in your bio. You can slightly do so in your artist statement if comedy is a main aspect of your work.

3. Consider the length

About 120 words is ideal, as readers begin to lose interest after that. If hit all your points, but end up with less, leave it alone! Don’t lengthen it with fillers and repetition.

4. Write it in third person

Write your bio in third person so it’s easier for others to use it in publications without editing. It’s less likely to be used when work has to be done to it, so make sure it’s in third person on your artist website as well.