How to Work as an Art Critic

Use these tips to have a successful career

An art critic looking closely at a work of art

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American newspaper desks continue to slash their features budgets and many art critics and dance, film, and theater critics have been 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 are 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.

Art Critics Become Art Experts

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 and Be Active

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.

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 a work of art in a museum for an entire hour. You'll be surprised by what you'll discover in that amount of time.

Write, Edit, and Pitch Your Stories

Jot down notes (via notebook or Blackberry or whatever) when you visit an art exhibition. Then write reviews. The more you write, the more you improve. Edit your reviews.

Getting a magazine or newspaper editor to agree to your story idea is not the easiest thing to do. Learn how to pitch editors and come up with dynamic query letters to improve your chances of success.

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.

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

Build Your Reputation

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