Ernest Hemingway, one of the great 20th century American novelists, said that “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
This applies to freelancing as much as it does to novel writing. And freelance art writing is no exception.
Writing about art and artists involves creative, theoretical, and philosophical approaches. It means the path to becoming a freelance art writer is not a mere walk in the park.
There isn’t one straight and well-paved route to this competitive field. But, if you feel to have a strong set of interests in arts, writing for the art world can be a viable career option.
What is Art Writing?
There are countless ways to blend talent and passion in this area because art writing is as vast as the art world itself.
But what exactly is art writing?
Writers paint with words. That’s how they form opinions, make scenes come alive in our minds, build imaginary worlds, and breathe life into characters.
Art comes in many forms, from visual arts to performing arts, culinary arts, and everything in between. Art is something that people don’t grasp easily, but it’s something they want to understand and appreciate.
That’s where art writing comes in. To make people understand art more in one of the best ways possible… with words. It analyzes and describes created pieces that were not intended to be expressed in words.
It is a profession that requires writing skills, artistic knowledge, and discerning eyes.
What does an Art Writer do?
If it wasn’t for the artistic efforts of writers, many of the stories that we love and inspire us would not have existed.
It is through writing that we could hold on to such stories that have been passed down to us through generations. It allows us to learn from the past and the present.
An art writer typically reviews art books, individual artworks, art events, or exhibitions for the public or a pre-defined audience.
They communicate with their readers through magazines, newspapers, catalogs and publications, academic journals, books, and art blogs.
Art writing is considered an art form, which makes art writers artists in their own rights.
How to be a Freelance Art Writer?
Building a career in art writing may not be easy, but it certainly isn’t impossible either.
Ask yourself how badly you want to get into the world of art writing. If you still believe you have what it takes to become one, we can help you start a career in art writing.
6 Easy Tips to Jumpstart Your Career as a Freelance Art Writer:
1. Having a college degree is great, but not necessary
A degree in art is not essentially required to pursue a career in art writing, particularly if you plan to work on your schedule as a freelance writer.
Probably the best thing about being self-employed is that nobody asks about your college or university degree. However, college degrees aren’t worthless, either.
A bachelor’s degree in fine arts, art history, or a similar field will certainly help boost your career in the long run. You can also take specialized courses in classic and contemporary art to become an expert in the field. The more education you bring to your profession, the better.
2. Learn everything you can about the art world
Being self-employed, you have the freedom to choose publications and write at your own pace in several avenues.
Focus and determination alone will not help you land a career in art writing. You must have a thorough knowledge of art history and various artistic styles. For example, in visual arts, you should have a deep understanding of Abstract Expressionism, Realism, Contemporary, Impressionism, Neoclassicism, Renaissance, and other art styles.
Professional art writing is about using words in ways that make them easily accessible to a broad audience. You should know how to capture the beauty and flaws of painted pictures, sculpted stones, and other forms of art pieces, and translate them into words.
3. Keep an eye on the art industry
If you want more opportunities in this field, you will have to do more than just write in the comfort of your home.
Networking is very important in the art world. Monitor art forums and keep up with the movers and shakers of the industry on social media. This will help you stay up to date with the latest happenings, from art events and exhibitions to the latest trends in the art world.
Attend a lot of art events, gallery openings, exhibitions, art fairs, book launches, and other cultural events.
4. Start your art blog
As with any form of writing, starting a blog is one of the most effective springboards for getting into an art writing career.
WordPress, or just any other blogging platform, can usher you into the world of art writing. Just open an account, focus on a niche for your art blog, and start writing.
Write a lot of blog posts to gain some exposure and drive traffic to your website. It will give potential employers a clear idea of what you do for a living and that everything you do is legit. This will also convince editors and publicists that your stories or blogs are worth reading.
5. Pitch your ideas properly
While a blog can build your credibility and showcase your writing skills, a strong persuasion skill to pitch your ideas can make potential employers believe in your capability.
Search Twitter and LinkedIn for editors, publications, gallery owners, or just anyone associated with the art world. These platforms are great places for finding the right contact.
Make sure your content fits their editorial style and piques the interest of the intended audience. You can also ask your writer friends about the magazines or columns they have written for and request a referral.
6. Create an outstanding portfolio
If you’re still trying to break into the realm of art writing, you can start by making it your side hustle until you get enough exposure to build a solid portfolio brick-by-brick.
Invest time in building a strong portfolio to get more eyes on your work. You should get relevant work experience writing for newspapers, magazines, online publications, websites, and books. The trick is to work hard and work smart.
A strong portfolio isn’t just a collection of everything you’ve done. Rather, it’s a well-documented sample of your best work. The theme and style you present here will best describe your oeuvre.
If you’re still thinking about building a career as a freelance art writer, you can do it one step at a time. You may have to start small at the beginning. While you may catch a lucky break, true success doesn’t come overnight. It requires focus, perseverance, and hard work.
Even with a good educational background, it’s not so easy to get started in this profession because it’s a highly competitive field. While each profession may have its nuances, being a good fit is just as important as having the right skill set for a career in art writing.