The bio is an important tool in branding you as an artist. The purpose of the bio, or biography, is to tell people about you. It is as simple as that. And if it’s as simple as that, anyone can write a bio! It’s true. You could write a bio. But you don’t just want a bio; you want a good bio.
Most bios are boring. A good bio is something people will actually read, and the key to writing a good bio is to infuse it with your own personality. You want to write it in a way that let’s your spirit shine through.
When writing a bio, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Be concise. Don’t be overly wordy. Get to the point. Short and sweet.
Write it in the third person. Do not use ‘I’. Use ‘he/she’ instead. This is different from the artist’s statement, which allows you to talk about
Only the highlights. You don’t have to list every award, every accomplishment, every organization you are a part of. Just give us the best of the best. List things that have been important in your life regarding your art, education or accomplishments: degrees, fellowships, awards, important events, performances, exhibits.
Your influences. Who has inspired you or influenced your work. The bio is a good place to mention this.
Your past work. Unlike the artist’s statement, which talks only of your current work, your bio can provide insight into your creative growth and phases.
Keep it entertaining. Again, most bios are boring. What is the point of writing a bio if it’s not going to get read anyway? Put a little zip in your writing. If you are a comic, make it funny. If you are a writer, it damn well better be good writing. If you are a hardcore rocker, you best not let it read like an 1800s chic lit novel. Be true to your style and genre. You get the idea.
Crafting the Bio
Using the pointers from above, do the following:
- Create two or three different versions of your bio.
- Get with someone who knows you and your art, someone you trust. Work with them to help you to pick the best from all versions.
- Compile this into one short, concise and to the point version that is several paragraphs long.
- Now, take this final version to someone you know and respect who is good with words. This could be a writer or even just a good communicator. Ask them to give you their opinion on the final bio.
- Based on their feedback, tweak it where you see fit.
- Finally, have it proofread for grammar, spelling and punctuation.
Congratulations! Now you have a finished bio! This is your long-form bio.
As an artist, you should plan to have three bios on hand: a long-form, a short-form, and a 3-line bio.
Take the bio you have just created and identify the best parts. Pare it down to a one to two paragraph piece. From there, shave even further to a lean, mean 3-line bio.
Here is an example of my own personal bios for your reference.
Save these three bios in one document for easy, quick access. With these three bios you should have everything you need to provide in a flash the right bio for most any situation. That and a good artist’s statement and headshot and you will be good to go.
– C.R. Cohen
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