Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Illustration Resumes: 5. Form and Appearance

Perhaps the most important consideration for illustrators when it comes to their resume is its appearance. And appearance is where an illustrator’s resume becomes truly distinctive, for we can create an illustrative resume. All aspects of the physical appearance and aesthetics of a resume are about projecting a personality, even the selection of fonts to be used. And any form of visual imagery bears a significant impact on a resume reviewer. As such, the selection and use of any symbols, colors, specialized type treatments, and even paper stocks and background textures have to be used perceptively, but none of these elements needs to be as thoroughly considered as the selection and use of illustrations.

There are three differing viewpoints related to the application of illustrations on a resume. These viewpoints are held not only by resume coaches and advisors, but also by prospective employers. By being aware of these conflicting opinions, it will allow one to consider the most appropriate option when creating a resume for a specific review situation.

Option 1. One extreme option is not to use any kind of image or visual element at all. This opinion is held by many business and human resource people who feel that a resume is strictly a business form and should only contain information. They maintain that illustrations and visual symbols present a visual distraction for a reviewer. Additionally, not being visually educated, these reviewers generally have difficulty understanding the use of an image, or they misinterpret the content or meaning associated with a visual.

Option 2. Another extreme, taking the opposite approach to the former argument, is for an illustration to have a very strong presence on a resume. To essentially use an illustration to alter the purpose of a resume as a document of written qualifications, to place it more in the realm of being a promotional advertisement. This kind of application has pluses and minuses. A plus is that a reviewer will probably be impressed by the resume and remember it. And the minus is the same except the reviewer is negatively impressed by it. Another issue relates to the use of a single illustration, which more than likely is all there will be space for on the resume. A resume could be the first, and with this approach possibly the only credential to be seen by a prospective employer. Reviewers will either like the image, or not. If not, that will be the end of any further interest in an applicant.

Option 3. The moderate approach to the use of illustrations takes into consideration that, in many instances, a resume is the first credential to be seen by a prospective employer, and the main purpose of the resume is to present a person’s job qualifications. As stated in option 2, any illustration used, will leave a strong impression on a reviewer, either positively or negatively. And in the case of a negative one, they will have no interest in viewing a portfolio or granting a personal interview. Therefore, for subscribe to this option, it is vital that an illustration not dominate the information content of a resume. However, if the use of an illustration appears more as an accent or a visual effect this is much less likely to happen. A moderate approach is to have an illustration play a supporting role to the written content of the resume.

© 2013 Don Arday.


When an illustration is incorporated into a resume in nearly every instance it becomes the center of interest. An illustration can be created specifically for a resume, which is preferable, or it can be an image that was created for an assignment and is repurposed for a resume. Either way, it is the first thing a reviewer will look at, and it will spark the first thought and impression with that viewer. This is vastly different than the kind of impression that occurs when a business resume is looked at. For lacking any visual element, it is the organization, i.e., the typographical hierarchy and treatment that becomes the “center of interest”. Any kind of image, even if small in size will draw the eye of a reviewer first.

Illustrative Treatments

Most illustrators think of an illustration as being a picture, with a definitive shape, color scheme, and easily perceivable content. But for a resume, an illustration does not need to be used in its original form. It can be altered or reinterpreted to create a visual effect that will blend with the other elements of a resume more harmoniously. Even if compositionally and tonally an illustration works well visually, the content and meaning of the illustration must be appropriate as well. Not like the true example of a resume with a German storm trooper used as the illustration, it was an attractive use of the image, but none-the-less, left a very negative impression. And no, the applicant wasn’t seeking a position as a storm trooper. Despite this one example, illustrations can be used very effectively to create wonderful resumes.

Illustrations can be used tastefully in many ways. For example: An illustration can be positioned anywhere in the margin around the text; or used as a banner that spans the width of the resume at the top or bottom; applied in the background behind text as a tint or watermark; it can be printed on the back side of the paper, large or small; it can be printed monochromatically; etc.

© 2013 Don Arday.


Symbols and logos can be incorporated into a resume to add personality, design aesthetic, identity, and visual interest. And, the same considerations that apply to illustrations also apply to symbols, for symbols, logos, and icons, can produce as significant a visual effect as an illustration, particularly if the resume is being submitted by an applicant for a job that calls for some design skills. Therefore, it would be prudent to carefully consider the selection and use of symbols or icons on a resume. Although these graphic forms can be strictly decorative in purpose, they function best when they actually communicate something.


A logotype is a symbol that is comprised of letterforms that have been altered and arranged in a customized manner. Good logotypes follow either traditional proportioning and/or visually pleasing aesthetics of letterform construction and anatomy. In other words, an understanding and application of letterform conventions is important. Resume reviewers and particularly designers are acutely aware of inappropriate “bastardizations” of letterforms and the alphabet. So if a logotype is used for purposes of identity on a resume, for the sake of legibility and aesthetics, it should follow letterform conventions to guide its customization.


Logos differ from logotypes in that they are purely pictorial in nature, whether or not they appear more illustrative or more symbol-like. Logos are very personalized visuals that represent a particular individual, company, product, etc. Logos very effectively add an individuality and personality to a resume. When using a logo as a personal identifier and for interest, any symbolism within the logo must be apparent. Illustrators and designers sometimes forget that resume reviewers may not be visually acute. Logos that are too abstract can loose or confuse a viewer. Symbolic abstractions, which communicate as plain as day to an illustrator or designer, may look like a foreign language to a businessperson reviewing a resume.


Icons are visual simplified representations of subjects. Their main purpose is to be used for indexing subjects or categories. Icons can add a very distinctive look, and interest, as well as help organize the categories on a resume. Whereas logos signify unique ideas, icons tend to stand for more general ones, and are likely to have a generic appearance to them. When icons are used in combination with other icons, they should display common visual or design characteristics to be seen as a set. As with logos, it is important for icons not to be too abstract to communicate clearly or serve as an identifier. 

Graphical Treatments

Many resume templates and resume design guides recommend the use of graphical treatments to add emphasis, color, interest, distinctiveness, etc. Graphical treatments are most commonly in the form of lines and rules, borders, boxes, tables, bullets, tint blocks, etc. Although graphical treatments are visual elements, the main purpose for their use is to improve the organization of the textual content on a resume. However, many resume creators tend to use them to make a resume appear to be “designed”, unfortunately these treatments are often used without regard for their true purpose. They can help distinguish the sections on a resume, support the typographical hierarchy, provide an opportunity to add accent color, and much more. Like all of the other visual elements discussed, they hold visual weight and impact, but since graphical treatments do not carry any meaning, it is very important not over use them, and not to use them to make up for deficiencies in the typographical hierarchy. It is rather easy for graphical treatments to dominate the visual appearance of the resume and distract a viewer from comprehending the written content.


Paper stocks and display screen backgrounds have an influence on the readability and aesthetic appeal of a resume. Subtle background tones or even highly contrasting ones can draw a viewer’s attention and assist in how efficiently they can absorb the written content of a resume. Textured paper stocks can also add a pleasing tactile quality and richness to a printed resume. Alternatively, color tones and textures reproduced digitally can project a visual effect of uniqueness and sophistication. All of which will add to the uniqueness and aesthetic appeal of a resume.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Illustration Resumes: 4. Objective, Summary, Goals, & Interests

All resumes should contain a job objective statement, goals statement, or a summary of qualifications statement. The problem is which one to use? If you seek information about these statements on the internet it will depend on who you are paying attention to as to which one to use. You will find that each resume advisor has their own preference of one kind over all others. And, most people base that
© 2013 Don Arday.
choice on resume trends and styling rather than what information must be communicated. Each type of statement serves a different purpose, and each kind can communicate a highly positive message, or can project a negative association, if the statement sounds in appropriate or inconsistent with the other information in a resume. This can be avoided by understanding what the differences are among these three statements.

Job Objective

Job objective statements are particularly useful for individuals who are relatively new to a field, as such, is the nature of these statements to relate to specific types of jobs. They should be well defined, and clearly written. Job objective statements are composed for a specific job title, position, and/or a particular type of work. Objective statements regarding type of work might contain terms such as “Storyboard Artist”, “Character Designer”, “Web Illustrator”, “Image Editor”, etc; titles and those regarding positions would include the prefixes like; “Staff (Blank)”, “Assistant (Blank)”, “Art (Blank)”, “Junior (Blank)”, etc. Job objective statements relate to company job listings and often parallel the sort of language used by the employer in a job advertisement. So, a job objective statement might contain titles such as “Assistant Character Designer”, “Art Director”, etc. These statements frequently include modifiers for the purpose of projecting an eagerness and enthusiasm for a position. Statements can be written in third person form or first person form. Here are examples:

Seeking a challenging full-time position that will allow me to use and adapt my talents as an illustrator to support the needs of a fast-paced company.

To obtain a position of Staff Illustrator that will allow me to utilize my passion to work for clients to create narrative and conceptual illustrations.

To effectively apply my visual communication skills through an illustration position in a company setting that will afford me an opportunity for individual contribution and advancement.

Job objectives can be described as local because they are often customized for a single employer or specific type of job opportunity, and rewritten for other opportunities or other employers.

Summary of Qualifications

Summary statements are increasingly becoming more popular. Especially for individuals who have are well established in a particular field. A demonstrated track record as a professional is required to use a summary statement effectively. A summary statement can consist of qualifications, past job positions, accomplishments, career highlights, job experiences, etc. In essence a summary of qualifications statement is a mini biography of employment performance. For someone who has significant experience and accomplishments a summary works well. However, if a person is just out of college, or has only been in the profession for a few years, a summary statement will appear inappropriate and out of place, unless it contains genuine weight or substance. Sometimes referred to as an “ego” statement, these summaries are generally self-promotional in nature. Summary statements are more global in nature, often times referring to events extending beyond the qualifications needed for a specific job.. They usually use language containing adjectives and adverbs, and are always written in third person form, never use first person form. The following are examples:

Self-motivated visual artist who uses creativity and technical skills to produce engaging and attractive illustrations for prominent clients. Effective communicator with project manager skills and experience as a team leader.

Ten years experience as a successful, goal oriented illustrator and illustration project director. Productive self-starter with a strong work ethic, and a proven dedication to company status, client relationships, and account maintenance. Completely current with hardware and software used to produce and deliver illustration projects.

Detail-oriented illustration craftsman with a broad knowledge of traditional and digital media. Eight years experience as a creative, inventive, and resourceful visual problem-solver. Well versed in budgeting, estimating, presenting, and executing illustration concepts for a wide range of clients.

Statement of Goals

A statement of goals, also known as a statement of purpose, refers more to the types of experiences a person would like to gain in their future. It can be considered a wish list of goals. For the purposes of a resume, it should not be thought of as a statement of one’s ultimate goal in life, or career apex such as becoming an Owner, a President, or as financially wealthy as Bill Gates, etc. And a cautionary note, mentioning a goal that happens to be the job title of the person who may be interviewing you for a position should be avoided. A statement of goals works best when it references expertise or exposure that may also be goals for the company under consideration for employment. Here, it is appropriate to mention personal goals in regard to performance and desired achievement and recognition. A goals statement may also involve circumstances that are extraneous to a particular job listing. Here are a few examples:

It is my desire to acquire first-hand knowledge of all aspects pertaining to corporate illustration jobs and practices. I wish to work as part of a problem-solving team for a company to produce award-winning illustrations for clients.

My career goal is to produce illustrations for nationally established clients, and to have my work internationally recognized for its quality and conceptual inventiveness by my peers. I wish to illustrate for the publishing, advertising, marketing, and design industries.

My number one goal is to author and illustrate children’s books for major publishing companies. It is also my wish to collaborate with established authors of children’s books to provide the illustrated content for their stories.


This portion of a resume is so overlooked as a category that it doesn’t even appear on most resumes. However, a short section that lists interests provides an opportunity for a reviewer to learn something personal about an applicant. An interest section can be extremely important because it helps personalize a resume. Interests may include serious hobbies, organized sports activities, membership in clubs and organizations, fraternities and sororities, volunteer work, etc.

There have been many instances where one job candidate is chosen over another due to their interests. Here are a few examples:

An employer who requires employees to perform a certain amount of community service per month, offered a job to an applicant because of her volunteer work with a particular organization.

A design job applicant, who was the Captain on his collegiate golf team, was hired to fill a position as a visual designer with a firm, which coincidentally, participated in a competitive golf league.

A graduate who was a member of a DELTA PHI EPSILON (ΔΦΕ) sorority was interviewed and hired by an art director who, when she was in college, also happened to be member of a different chapter of the same Greek organization.

These types of coincidences happen more frequently than anyone would expect, so the potential of an interest section on a resume should not be ignored.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Illustration Resumes: 3. Skill & Achievement

Even though illustrators and most visual artists are not necessarily lauded for their writing skills, they never the less must muster them to compose a resume. Now when it comes to the categories of skill and achievement, illustration resumes separate themselves quite substantially from other professional fields and even other visual arts based fields. And this separation should be properly recorded so it can be recognized. The skills section can present quite a range of expertise from the knowledge of centuries old traditional art media to the use of software applications on the latest computer operating systems and hardware devices. Additionally, illustrators most definitely possess noteworthy creative, perceptual, and aesthetic skills. Not to mention skills involving dexterity. Unfortunately, when it comes to choosing credentials to include in a resume, illustrators severely undervalue these skills, and quite often overlook them altogether.

© 2013 Don Arday
Although there are difficulties concerning the listing of skills, the achievement category is even less understood. At least in many of the resumes I have seen. It is arguably the most difficult category of a resume for illustrators to write. And most importantly, it can end up being the one section of a resume that turns out to be the most influential in attracting the attention of a potential employer, especially one that commissions freelance work. Achievements and accolades are where illustration resumes and those of graphic designers share some similarity. Both groups participate in many of the same competitive venues, and achievements regarding those venues are mutually admired. So the difficulty lies in two areas. The first being how to list accolades, after all, nearly everything you produce as an illustrator is a collaborative effort with a designer, art director, writer, editor, client, or even another artist. The second area concerns even knowing when your illustrated work has been recognized and received special recognition, because it may not have been you, but one of your collaborators, who entered the project into a competition. This happens quite often, and it is only through some third party association that an illustrator can find out that they have been awarded an industry distinction. This is why it is so important to use an online search engine to do an “ego search”. My own personal experience doing this has revealed important documentation and recognition of my work, which has resulted in several noteworthy resume citations, and it may well do the same for you.


Whereas the identity and history sections of a resume serve as the nuts and bolts, the skill section of a resume represents the meat and potatoes. That is to say, when resumes are reviewed a person’s identity and their history become the basic qualifiers for a prospective employee. If something is out of order here, a reviewer will not read any further. If all is good with the qualifications, than the skills section is examined.

For more on the qualifications of identity and history see: http://www.theinformedillustrator.com/2013/07/illustration-resumes-2-identity-history.html

Required and Desired Skill

A set of skills is what jobs are all about, let’s just say, a person who possesses the right set of skills may win out over a person who happens to have the right degree. Jobs descriptions usually list required skills for a given position. They may also list desired skills, which is a sort of wish list for the job position. Finding a candidate that possesses all the required and desired skills is nearly impossible, but job descriptions will list them nonetheless. The important thing is for you not to feel intimidated by a job listing. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so it is always worth the effort to apply.

Skill Categories

These days, illustrators can demonstrate skills in several areas, and employers are searching for those individuals that possess a variety of skills. Presenting a well-organized skill section that lists noteworthy skills on a resume will help a resume reviewer to  quickly recognize the abilities you have to offer.

Art Skill
Art skill refers to an illustrator’s knowledge of traditional art media, technique, and materials. Some examples of advantageous skills, might involve being a practitioner in wet media such as oil, water-based oil, acrylic, watercolor, gouache, egg tempera, etc. Or dry media for that matter. Others skills can refer to techniques such as screen printing, dimensional illustration, cell painting, encaustic, oil sketching, intaglio, etc. And others can relate to the use of materials such as airbrush, letterpress, etc.

Subject Skill
Consider that your resume might precede your portfolio, so it is important to have a verbal reference for your form and style of work. This can be done by way of a brief description or it can be built into the skills section of your resume. Subject skills would include caricaturist, realist, cartoonist, muralist, scene illustrator, botanical illustrator, wildlife illustrator, fantasy illustrator, portrait illustrator, etc.

Technology Skill
Technology skills involve the use of computer hardware and peripherals, software applications, internet environments, and social networking. Knowledge of particular hardware platforms should be listed, as should their operating systems such as Mac OS/iOS, Windows, Linux, Android, etc.

Illustrators who use several software products should list them along with their estimated proficiency. Adobe products should be listed individually such as Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, etc. It is perfectly acceptable to list software programs you have used even if you use only portions of them regularly.

Special note: I once had a conversation with one of the creators of a widely used software program, and I asked him, “What did he consider an expert to be when it came to knowing a particular software program?” He said, “We refer to people who are well versed in a program as a ‘Power User’, and we consider a Power User to be someone that knows 20% or more of the capabilities of a program. He said, “There are very few professionals who use more than 20% of what a program has to offer in the daily course of what they do. Even the developers of the programs do not all know the usage extent of the software they have created”.

Tech Support
Knowledge of scanners, digital cameras, audio and video capture devices and other digital recording devices ought to be in your skill section. Knowledge of file formats and sizing, display resolution, and data transmission should also be listed.

Interpersonal Skill
Unless they have an agreement with an illustration rep, illustrators can no longer simply sit in their studio and produce work, only to have a rep or someone else handle all the client contact and business communication. Either as a self-representing illustrator or an employee of a firm, you will have to deal directly with clients, managers, fellow employees, vendors, and others. For this reason, employers place great value on applicants that have strong interpersonal skills. And in many cases, these skills become a make or break factor in the offering of a job. Illustrators seldom list these skills on their resumes, but just as your portfolio, history, and technical qualifications will be reviewed, so will your interpersonal skills. These skills will be demonstrated by you and observed by an employer during an interview. And, as your resume will preface your interview it should list any of these skills you possess, just as you would list any other skills and abilities. Interpersonal skills would include the ability to communicate effectively, to take direction, to work within a team, to collaborate on projects, to be adaptive, etc.

Business Skill
Another overlooked skill category on illustrator’s resumes is business skills. Nevertheless, these skills should be looked at as being as important as any other skills, and should be included on a resume. Business skills would include the ability to pitch new clients, to present your work, to sell an idea, to market a product or service, to estimate project costs, to create a business plan, to write a project proposal, etc. Most illustrators have business skills that are a necessity to being an illustrator. So why not list them?


For employers and freelance commissioners an illustrator’s achievements are like the icing on a cake…sweet. Accomplishments can definitely influence the way a potential employee is considered. A listing of accomplishments, and accolades on your resume will improve your standing with a reviewer. Achievements demonstrate a commitment to excellence, a quality all employers desire in an illustrator. Employers love to brag about their employees or people they’ve commissioned. It’s a way for them to enhance the status of their company. So it is important for you to keep track of your achievements. For freelancers, as stated previously, unless former clients contact you when one of your pieces is entered into a competition, or coincidently publicized, you may not even be aware that you have are the recipient of accolades or recognition. For this reason I can’t over stress the importance of doing an “ego search” on the internet to uncover any achievements you may be unaware of.

Achievement Categories

Illustrators can participate in a number of venues that will provide achievement and distinction to their work. So, presenting an organized achievement section on a resume will help you reinforce the influence your work has in the field among your peers, hopefully giving you an advantage over other candidates. Although producing freelance for a prestigious client is a kind of achievement, it should be listed under experience and not in the achievement section. Achievement refers to acclaim for your work in peer-approved venues after the client has used it.

Scholarly Achievement
Surprisingly, many graduates neglect to list their academic merit scholarships and awards, figuring they are part of their degree, and not singularly of interest to a potential employer, but that is not true. Your scholarly achievement becomes a testament to your academic standing. Employers want to hire employees that were among the top of their class, and demonstrating it on your resume will serve you well.  There’s a riddle that asks the question, “What do you call a medical student who graduated at the bottom of their class?” The answer is, “Doctor”, but no one would want to be treated by that doctor. The same goes for academic credentials. Scholarly achievement can be listed in the achievement section or it can be listed in the education section along with your degree. These would include scholarships, merit awards, published writings, and other forms of distinction.

Competitive Achievement
Mainly occurring in the form of juried art contests, competitive achievements add distinction to your work and confirm respect for you as an illustrator. Competitions, whether it is the one sponsored by the Society of Illustrators, or any of the many others, are most useful examples of an artistic recognition of quality. They represent recognition of artistic achievement by your peers, for which employers trust and value that judgment.

Exhibition Achievement
Along with participation in competitions, having your work selected for exhibition, i.e., the public display of your illustrations is also a form of artistic acknowledgment. Participation in art exhibitions and any awards or distinctions associated with them should be appropriately listed as achievements. Exhibitions can occur at gallery spaces and museums, or as online displays.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Illustration Resumes: 2. Identity & History

Even though there is a great deal of advice out there about all aspects of creating a resume, a sizable portion of this advice is not the best for people who are in the visual arts, and particularly for illustrators who embody the “visual” in the visual arts. And even more importantly, most of the advice doesn’t take into consideration the type of employers or people who will be reviewing our resumes, namely professionals who are in a visual arts business of some form or another. This may include visual artists such as designers, media artists, animators, art directors, and fellow illustrators. Both visual arts businesses and its practitioners look at resumes differently than general business people and non-visual businesses do. So, it only makes sense to tailor the information contained in your resume and its appearance to their liking.

© 2013 Don Arday.
Although this article will be focusing on the content of basic resume information, the visual form a resume will take should be considered even while content is being determined. Visual artists truly appreciate visual aesthetics. And it doesn’t matter whether visual attraction occurs in the form of a work of visual art such as an illustration, or if it can be perceived in the design and appearance of a resume, visual aesthetic choices will always be appreciated, and can most definitely leave a positive impression on the reviewer.

You have probably placed a great deal of emphasis on the quality and appearance of your portfolio, but at this point, it is important for you to understand that your resume could precede your portfolio and be the first credential a potential employer or illustration commissioner will see. And for some illustrators it may be the only thing they will see. For this possibility alone, it will serve you well to carefully consider the value of an attractive resume and to craft it accordingly.

So up until now it sounds like an illustrator must have an aesthetically pleasing, nice to look at, resume, but that should only be considered as window dressing. For a beautiful, visually cutting edge resume with little substance will have even less success. Content, content, content; the content in a resume is the ”you” in a resume. Your resume must have sound content, and although it may sound as though looks are more important than substance, they are not. So in this article we will discuss an important component in a resume, your identity.


Your Name

What’s In A Name? Now this question truly does sound silly, but there are many illustrators out there who have decided to adopt a moniker in place of their name, and only in the case of Banksy, http://www.banksy.co.uk/, whom I’m sure your are aware, has it worked. Your name is your identity. Employers want to know whom they are interviewing and potentially employing. Use your own name, and if your surname is a common one, then consider using your middle initial as well. Make it as easy as possible for a potential employer to find you. Here is an example; if you were to search for my good friend and illustration colleague, Robert Dorsey, on LinkedIn you would find more than 60 other Robert Dorsey’s to choose from. And there are even more scattered throughout the internet.

Your Contact Information

If you have a registered business address, definitely use it on your resume, if not, use a permanent address, not a college or school address. Businesses frequently file resumes away until they need them, so several months may go by before they decide to contact you. So use an address that will still be current in the future.

Most likely you will be contacted via email, so again it is important to keep your email address current, or if you have more than one email, to have them linked together so you receive any communication that is sent from a potential employer instantly. And it goes without saying; you should check your email frequently.

It’s a good idea to list more than one phone number if you can. Listing a mobile number as your primary contact number is perfectly fine, but you should also consider a second number, perhaps a land line to list as a back up. This way you are covered in case something catastrophic occurs to your cell phone.

Your Website
Up till now everything has been all straightforward common sense, but including a website on your resume will take some special thoughtfulness. In many cases you will be asked to send a resume, which will precede a review of your portfolio and an interview with you. So it is the task of your resume to create interest in you and your work for a potential employer who is seeking to fulfill a specific position, and for that interest to be followed up with an interview. But consider this carefully; based on the fact that you listed your website on your resume; if an employer who is interested in you can access your website, or online portfolio, and have the ability to review your work and essentially find out what they want to know about you without your knowledge or presence; would your granting them that privilege be such a good idea?

It is very important for you to control access to your work and information about you. You want to encourage a potential employer to have several points of contact with you, including a personal interview, and a face-to-face presentation of your work. Your resume should provide enough information to warrant further interest in you and an interview. A resume that provides access to your work through a website and other sources actually discourages personal contact. An employer could form an impression about you without ever having met with you. And you would have no way of knowing if they reviewed your work or not, which work of yours they reviewed, or why they decided to move on to someone else.

Your Facebook Presence
Along with controlling access to your website, you should also control your social network presence. Employers have become very internet savvy and they regularly check Facebook for information about potential employees. So this is the time to remove any potential professionally embarrassing posts about your social habits or associates. I know of at least one instance where an artist had a great job offer reneged with a government agency due to a sloppy Facebook appearance.


Your Education

Correctly listing your educational credentials and the institution(s), where, and when you received them, is essential on your resume. I have seen many resumes that had the wrong degree title listed and even the wrong degree classification. Job listings are quite clear when it comes to demanding a specific degree qualification. It may be a BFA, BA, AA, MA MFA, or even a Ph.D. that is required to be considered for a position.  

What’s in a title? All degrees are not alike. For instance a BFA in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design is not like a BFA in Illustration from the Rochester Institute of Technology with is again not like the degree from the School of Visual Arts, and so on. They all have very different curriculums. And so, graduates from each of these institutions possess different qualifications. To clarify this on a resume you can list some examples of significant or supplementary coursework. Unique independent study courses can be listed here. This will help provide some breadth to your degree and to help describe your individual “educational” experience.

Your Employment

Full or Part Time
Many of us have worked many kinds of jobs for varying amounts of time. A common misconception is that only employment that pertains to a career should be listed here, but that is not so. If it were, you might find yourself in a catch22 situation whereby you wouldn’t be able to make career changes, or for college grads, gain access to your desired career. What potential employers are looking for is a history of consistent employment. They want to know, first of all that you have worked for someone and that you have the ability to hold a job, any job…store clerk, sales associate, office manager or assistant, waitress, etc. It is perfectly acceptable to list these types of employment.

What’s in a job? Along with listing former and present employers and the dates of your employment, you should include your job title and a brief description of your job responsibilities. Reviewers are very interested not only in where you have worked, but what you did while you were at work. For instance, if your work experience involved customer relations, computer skills, sales experience, etc.; it will always be seen as useful to an employer in the illustration profession.

For seasoned professionals with a long employment history there is a very specialized type of resume called a “biographical” resume, which for all intents and purposes is a biographical prose statement of a person’s employment history including achievements related to each job position.

Internships and Co-ops
For students and recent graduates, internships and co-ops are considered forms of employment and should most definitely be listed. They are highly regarded on a resume as crucial job experience.

Where does freelance work come in? Significant freelance can be listed to accompany employment history, as a subcategory of employment. Specific assignments can be listed and briefly described or you can provide a listing of clients. Just be aware that the person reviewing your resume might ask to see a specific project, or the work you have done for a specific client.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Illustration Resumes: 1. Importance

There is a great amount of advice and information available on line and in books about how to create a resume. Everything from how it should be worded to how it should look. There are suggestions for outlining a resume, samples of resume content, examples of resume formats, recommendations for the typographic style of the resume, guidelines concerning the resume length, references for usage of color in resumes, phraseology lists for writing resume descriptions, paper stock and printing advice, electronic resume email and PDF tips, and the list goes on and on, etc., etc. And all this information is for anyone who is trying to put together a resume with the intention of supporting him or her and loved ones in the present economically based society. The point to be made here is that a resume cannot, and should not, be taken lightly. It is not something, as the iPhone app developers suggest, that can be put together in five to ten minutes. A resume can be instrumental in determining your future and should be taken very seriously, composed thoughtfully, and undertaken professionally. It can result in determining your future professional activity for the next 30 years. Particularly if you are seeking a full-time staff position at a media, marketing, or design firm, or at a corporation or advertising agency. And despite what you may read in discussion groups or blogs on the internet, a degree, whether a BFA, BA, BS or AA, will be necessary to find full-time employment with a company for any form of professional job capacity.

© 2013 Don Arday.

The 3 Essential Credentials

Now you have probably spend a great deal of time perfecting your portfolio, and rightfully so, but a strong portfolio is only one of the three important credentials to gain employment to be able to support yourself as an artist. The other two are a strong resume, and certainly not least...you.

Why A Resume Is Important 

A strong resume, a.k.a., a listing of your professional knowledge, can be as important a credential as your portfolio itself. Here is one example of this. An illustrator applies for a job with a prominent animation firm. The creative department reviews the illustrator’s work and decides to interview the illustrator. All goes well. From there the department head recommends the illustrator be hired based on what was considered to be the most important qualification, the illustrator’s work. The recommendation goes to the executives of the company and to the human resource manager. At this point in the review process the resume takes over for the portfolio as the main credential that is under review. The individuals who actually do the hiring, being non-artists, trust the visual decision to the creative department, but for the hiring one, they must come to their own conclusion. That conclusion will be based on a thorough review of a resume, and if the illustrator meets the desired company qualifications, further interviews. The portfolio opens the door to a possible offer, and the resume and illustrator’s interviews seal the deal. Freelancers should note that many companies who commission illustrators are now asking for a copy of the illustrator's resume to be kept on file for company record keeping and future review. 

Resume Upkeep

Returning for a moment to the portfolio and to the work therein, most illustrators invest a decent sum of money and spend many hours on, not only the work that is contained in the portfolio, but the appearance of the portfolio and how it functions. Many illustrators have more than one portfolio and also portfolios in different forms such as books, websites, PowerPoint presentations, etc., each for a different marketing need. However, most illustrators have only one resume, and that resume usually is only evident in one format. Conversely, illustrators are constantly updating and altering their portfolios, adding new pieces, rearranging work, etc., but a resume is usually not maintained with the same enthusiasm as the portfolio, and in some instances is sadly neglected. Until, that is when it is needed, and at that point, it becomes very challenging to update the resume content if six or eight months have elapsed. Although it sounds unbelievable, significant achievements can easily be forgotten in a short period of time, especially for a highly productive illustrator. A good resume provides not only a list of your skills and experience, but it serves as a reference for your place in the professional world. Your resume should be as well maintained as your portfolio is. New information and achievements should be added soon after they occur. You should add items you are aware of to your resume regularly. But there might be items that you may not be aware of. To find these, you should form the habit of doing an “ego search”, in other words search for information about yourself on your favorite search engines. By doing this from time to time, you might discover citations of your work, or that your work has been shown or that you have been mentioned in some new sources. This information can serve to help you update your resume accurately.

Courtesy of Greenfield Belser.
Special Note: 
As I was writing this article, and for the sake of my own curiosity, I decided to perform an ego search on myself, which I did with a surprising result. I found my work was displayed, and I was cited in a book that I was totally unaware of titled, 25 Years of Legal Branding

The Bottom Line 

It is important consider your resume as a factual resource of all that you have spend many hours accomplishing; from your education, to your skills, to honors and to accolades. Regardless as to whether or not your portfolio presents “your voice” visually, your resume can speak for all that your portfolio cannot.

Now that you are convinced about the importance of a resume, and keeping it up to date, you can look for additional information specifically customized for illustration resumes in upcoming articles.

Further information about portfolio development, which will coincide with that on resumes, can be found at the following links.