There are two primary ways to write your biography: formal and informal.
The formal bio is you at your most professional. It’s straight-laced–some might even say “stiff.” It’s what you hand in with your job, grant, or gallery application. The formal bio is what you learn to write in your last semester of art school.
In short, your formal bio is your résumé in paragraph form. Take the highlights from the dates and bullet points on your résumé and make a story out of them. Here’s an example of an easy 3-part artist’s bio that I like to use with clients.
1. Opening Paragraph
I like to start a bio with a one- or two-sentence summary of the artist statement. This lets the reader knows immediately about your current work and gives context to what comes after it.
2. Middle Paragraph(s)
This is where you list your accomplishments. They could be–like your résumé–in reverse chronological order or according to importance. Don’t highlight something you did thirty years ago and leave it at that. You want to sound vibrant and relevant today. Aim for a paragraph or two in this section.
3. Closing Paragraph
Your formal bio focuses on facts
Mention your education, where you’ve lived, where you reside, your birth location and—if desired–your year of birth.
Next week I’ll look at the informal bio.
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