Art writers and critics write critical features and comment pieces for art newspapers, magazines, journals, exhibition catalogues, books and online. They give informed opinion on exhibitions and artworks within the field of contemporary art and their commentary provides information to the reader, along with personal views on the object of their commentary. Art writers and critics possess strong writing abilities. They have to think creatively to find new angles on a piece of work and also have to ensure that their critiques are accurate, fair and written for the style and audience of the publication.
Most art writers are freelance and are paid per article or review that they produce. They will tend to write whilst also working in one or more other professional roles, which may include being an artist, teaching in a university, or curating. A few writers will have a salaried role on the editorial board of a magazine or as a regular contributor to a national newspaper.
Many writers will begin by emailing editors to suggest ideas for reviews, articles or interviews in order to build a track record and reputation. After this point writers may receive invitations to write for magazines, or receive commissions from commercial or public galleries to write texts for catalogues or other gallery publications. Academics may also contribute writing to academic journals or publications. Whilst these are seldom paid some will receive royalties from the sales of publications.
How do you become an art writer/ critic?
Study a related subject at degree level such as art, art history, literature or art theory.
Visit lots of art galleries and read a lot so that you become an expert in the field of contemporary art and the area you wish to write about.
Keep writing as you will get better with practice. Start by maintaining a blog and look out for opportunities to apply for art writing competitions, residences and bursaries. At university see if there are opportunities to write for a student newspaper.
What skills do you need?
A good grounding in contemporary art and art theory.
An ability to write well. Clear and succinct texts mean that editors will need to do minimal work to publish them.
A passion for the subject or some sense that you have something to say.
Freelance skills to manage self-employed working.
The ability to network and build contacts.
Look up other roles in the visual arts including: