How to Work as an Art Critic

art critic
Art critics examine works of art and write essays critiquing the work. Photo courtesy Getty Images

As of 2011, many American newspaper desks were slashing their features budgets, so many art critics and dance, film, and theater critics were let go. In such a bleak publishing environment, is it even possible to work as an art critic? In a word—YES.

Even though the newspaper may soon become obsolete, there is a plethora of online art publications to write for, so the astutely driven art critic may be able to have a successful art career.

Here's how.

Become an Expert

In order to succeed, you must first be an expert in your field. If you are an art critic writing about sculpture, then you must learn everything there is about sculpture: its history, significance, trends, key figures, sculptural techniques, etc.

Stay Curious

Art is a subjective business, so it is vital to stay curious and open-minded. Discover new artworks or look at older works in new ways. Constantly read widely in a whole range of subjects. Be open to the world as this will feed your art criticism.

Be Active

Visit art exhibitions. Go see art exhibits. Did I mention to go to art galleries, art fairs, museums, and biennials? In order to be a successful art critic, you must see a lot of art.

One common art school assignment is to study an artwork in a museum for an entire hour. You'll be surprised by what you'll discover in that amount of time.

Write, Write, and Edit

Jot down notes (via notebook or Blackberry or..)when you visit an art exhibition.

Then write reviews. The more you write, the more you improve. Edit your reviews.

Pitch Your Story Ideas

Getting a magazine or newspaper editor to agree to your story idea is not the easiest thing to do. The Freelance Writing Guide provides sage advice on how to pitch editors and come up with dynamic query letters.

Be Entrepreneurial

If editors aren't immediately giving you your very own weekly art column, then set up your own art critic blog. Contact galleries, museums, and artists directly about writing reviews for them. Think outside the box to come up with ways to work as an art critic.

Publish

Write brochures, catalog essays, travel guides, and books. Get your art criticism published by art galleries, artists, art institutions.

Don't Give Up

Like with any career in the arts, you MUST not give up. Tenacity and hard effort do pay off in the end.

Build Your Reputation

With art criticism, you will quickly gain a following as readers will either love or hate what you wrote. If your art criticism helps readers to gain understanding into an artwork, then your writing opportunities will surely increase as having a good reputation as a critic is key.

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