Why You Need to Write About Art

This is my personal plea for you to become an arts writer/reviewer – not of your own work, but of other artists.

Wait! Don’t be scared! Stay with me here.

Michelle Casey Collage

©2011 Michelle Casey, The Tree Whisperer. Collage and mixed media, 8.5 x 6 inches. Used with permission.

I’m alarmed at the large numbers of arts writers that are disappearing from major newspapers. They’re dropping like flies! We lost television a long time ago because artists, for the most part, aren’t sensational (read: startling, violent, controversial) enough to make the headlines.

We’re losing even more ground with our youth in public schools because of teaching mandates.

It’s up to us to educate people about art, and the role it can play in the lives of others.

Can you do your part?

I suppose a better title for this article would be “Why We Need You to Write About Art.”

Artists Need Writers

We need writers in the art ecosystem. Critics and reviewers shape taste. They are the gatekeepers that decide what is worthy of attention.

If this makes you cringe – if you think art should be more democratic – consider all of the art you’ve seen in your life. Is it all worthy of critical acclaim and attention?

It isn’t and it shouldn’t be. There is no earthly way to cover in writing all of the art produced. Writers must be discerning and, if you’re aiming high, you want them to be discerning.

I just finished reading Grant Wood: A Life. After the success of his painting American Gothic, Wood became a cultural icon and the painting achieved, as you know, cult status.

Wood’s success wasn’t because he was the founder of a revolutionary painting style. Instead, it had a great deal to do with Thomas Craven, the critic who championed American Regionalism. Look back on any 20th Century art movement and you’ll find a writer behind its day in the spotlight.

“But I’m Not a Writer”

I hear ya. You may not think of yourself as a writer, but I’ll bet you can write. And that’s the verb behind the profession.

Just write. Become a documentarian of culture as you see it.

People don’t start out as great writers. It comes through practice and a desire to be better.

The more you write, the more comfortable you will become with this new creative pursuit.

It Benefits You, Too

Writing about other people’s art:

  • Identifies you as a leader in your art community
  • Gets you out of your studio and connecting with people face-to-face
  • Makes you friends
©2011 Ruth de Vos, Snapshot #8. Quilted textile.

©2011 Ruth de Vos, Snapshot #8. Quilted textile, 40 x 40 centimeters. Used with permission.

Most importantly, the more you write about any art, the better you will become at writing about your own art.


Start on Your Blog

Blogging is where arts journalism has been heading since the shrinking of arts sections in newspapers.

If you, like many artists I know, are looking for blog post ideas, head over to your local gallery or museum and write about a show you see. You might also set up a visit to the studio of an artist you admire as fodder for your blog.

When you have the hang of it, you can submit guest post ideas to interested publications – online or off.

Coming Up

Next week I will give you some tips to make writing about other people’s art a little easier.

In the meantime, if you have a blog and would like to boost its popularity and your fun quotient, join us in the Blog Triage class.

Blog Triage online class for artists starts today and there are a few slots left. Click here to grab your seat and regain the love you have for your blog!

Send to Kindle

96 comments to Why You Need to Write About Art

  • LOVE this idea! Our community has a local paper that I think would benefit tremendously from a bi-weekly feature, and I also know that our local Art Center would also help to spearhead this. I’m submitting a proposal to them both today!! thanks so much!

    • Kimberly: Keep us posted. Way to take action!

      • I forwarded your blog, Alyson, to my local art center yesterday and the director wasted no time. She got our local paper’s approval and then put out a call to her board of directors for a volunteer to write. She then one-upped us by contacting the local cable channel and starting a dialogue about a monthly arts-centric program created by the art center. I’m excited to see what comes of this! Thanks, Alyson!

  • Alyson, your article came at such a good time for me. Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit an amazing art museum. For the first time ever, I took notes on all the artists that really ‘spoke’ to me. Today is one of my posting days on my blog and I was going to share my experience! Thank you for giving me the courage to partake in creative endeavors I may not normally jump at.

  • Hi Alyson,
    Great suggestion. I’m certainly energized to start writing (again). Thanks for the push.
    Jacquie Gouveia

  • Thank you for this excellent post. I am sparked by the idea that artists need writers, and I am inspired to add writing about artists to my blog.
    http://Www.maryanndidriksenpainter.com

  • That’ a great idea. In the non profit art school that I volunteer in, we opened a community gallery. That would be a place for me to start writing on my blog , about the art and artists that exhibit there. I read some art reviews and am intimidated by the ‘art jargon’ that is used. I feel like it is a private club that is saying ‘Unless you see or feel what I do, you don’t truly understand art’ I feel that at times it can be pretentious and exclusionary. When I view a piece of art that I am drawn to, I ask myself ‘Why do I like it ?’. Perhaps this is oversimplifying things, but I find it a good starting point. I suppose the opposite is true as well. Why am I not drawn to this piece ? I’d love to hear the thoughts of others on this.

  • I don’t review others work, but for many years I have been writing and speaking about the vitality of art process, especially in terms of higher consciousness.
    I am currently writing a memoir about my life as an artist in the 80s. In fact, the story of one’s life in and through art – especially a woman’s life as we have been so overlooked – needs to be heard for all sorts of reasons. Especially now, as our culture becomes more visual, and the power of visualization – which artists possess naturally, is a crucial factor in our increasing realization that all is perception.
    I actually had to put down my brush in order to pick up the pen. But no regrets. My task now is to illuminate the process of an artist. It’s importance and vitality, and ultimately its necessity on the quest of self-knowledge and self-awareness.

    • Interesting, Nancy. I’m sure others’ work must come into play when you talk about process. No?

      • ELIZABETH J WHITE

        i ALWAYS ENJOY LOOKING AT OTHERS WORK i AM HUMBLED BY THE PRESENCE OF GREATNESS(CORNY) I NEVER HAVE THOUGHT OF MYSELF AS A ARTIST I ALWAYS THOUGHT OF MYSELF JUST AS SOMEONE WHO LIKES TO DRAW. NOW I HAVE PEOPLE CALLING ME THAT AND AFTER A COUPLE OF SHOWS LATER FINALLY BEGINNING TO BELIEVE IT. I AM SO AWESTRUCK EACH TIME I GO TO A ART SHOWING, I AM LIKE A LITTLE CHILD IN A CANDY SHOP IT ALL LOOKS SO DELECTIBLE. NOW I AM HOPING TO GET SOME INSIGHT ON HERE ABOUT MY WORK. I NEED A FOG HORN TO BROADCAST …HEY OUT THERE CHECK THIS OUT PLEASE LOL

  • Connie

    Thank you so much! It is just what I needed…Instead of sitting down to write it is suddenly really important to clean the house, make all the overdue phone calls etc.
    Best wishes to you!

  • Not too long ago, I wrote about a local exhibition I had seen on my blog (http://lisasartmusings.blogspot.com/2012/02/cutting-edge.html). I was so excited about the show when I was there, I forgot to write down the artists’ names. Usually if I take a picture, I try to remember to take a photo of the label as well. Next time, I will try to remember to take some more time to jot down notes.

    Since I liked the show, it was easy to write about. But I think if there was a show I wasn’t excited about, it would be difficult to write about it. One reason would be that I wouldn’t want to offend another artist. Another reason would be having people think I’m being negative. Do you have suggestions on how to write about a not-so-great exhibition?

    • Of course you can search around for what’s positive to say, blah, blah, blah . . . but my feeling up to now, doing Bay Area art reviews at http://www.examiner.com/art-scene-5-in-san-francisco/arthur-comings, is that if there’s not a preponderance of stuff I’m really excited about in a show, it’s not worth doing a review. If I were really excited about how bad things were and how someone was being ripped off for time or ideas I might feel like it would be worth it, but at least around here there are always enough shows that I can find something that I really enjoy.

      When there’s some stuff in a show that I feel is substandard, I just don’t say much about it, and I think someone who’s paying attention will get the idea, and notice the contrast. I feel like I’m on the reader’s side, and why would I want to spend a lot of time explaining how bad the show was when I could direct them somewhere else? Of course, if I were getting paid to display my startling expertise on a show regardless of whether I liked it, I guess I could really pull out the stops, but that’s not going to happen any day soon. For the moment, I’ll just try to enjoy myself, and communicate my enthusiasm to my readers.

    • Lisa: I’m with Arthur on this. After looking at an exhibit description or seeing images online, I pretty much know if I’ll find stuff I like enough to write about.

    • Lisa, my personal view is that there’s enough negativity in the world so why bother. If you don’t like a show, don’t write about it. If, however, you liked 70% or more of the show, you can focus on that aspect, then briefly mention what you didn’t like.

      As for art, I think it’s so subjective in nature that it’s really hard to put someone else’s work down. Even prestigious art reviewers, with a lot of schooling and training and a good eye may not like a particular artist, style, or what-have-you, but others with the same training may.

      If you don’t have the stomach to essentially be mean with a negative review, move on to something that did move you. :)

  • Interestingly I’ve been writing about art for a while – though not local art. The research and writing is part of my art process. I learn so much doing it. But I have another goal: encouraging people to really look at art, feel comfortable looking, think about what they see and wonder about the person who created it. Reviews of local art would add a fresh dimension. Thanks for floating the idea.

  • Thanks Alyson, I already write about art shows on my blog, mainly because I get so enthusiastic about shows and I want people to see them. What I’ve found from talking to people who read my blog is that reviews have become a substitute for attending shows, so I’ll have to adjust my reviews to become more descriptive.

    One question for you, what if you have a negative opinion of a show? Isn’t it more difficult for an artist to pan another artist’s work? And yet, if you’re trying to develop yourself as a reviewer, you wouldn’t want to become only a cheerleader, but it seems like a minefield.

    • M.A.: See what Arthur wrote above. I agreed with him.

      If you select a show to write about, you’ll always find something to write about, but there might be negatives. For me, the negatives are often in the installation of the pieces, the lighting, the label text, etc.

      I just don’t write about work that I think is subpar. Not worth my time.

      • It definitely is a bit of a minefield, though. You put yourself up on a soapbox, and then you can’t help wondering what people will think if they pay attention to what you really think about the show.

        In a recent review (http://www.examiner.com/review/local-talent-marin-s-falkirk-show) at a venue where I hope to exhibit again — although I had skipped that show — I complained that the show (naming no names) hadn’t put one piece up on a pedestal and said that another piece looked like it had been done by “a demented woodworker.” But the curator (who I know) was very appreciative for the review, and when I half-apologized to the artist, she said that in fact she sometimes felt like a demented woodworker. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I really loved the woman’s work, and that the venue can use the publicity.

        • Yes, there’s a definite conflict to being an artist and criticizing art. I read your review and I think you were quite gentle in your criticism, and nobody could be offended but artists can be pretty sensitive.
          I’ve written reviews where I criticized the venue for not providing enough training/information to be able to fully appreciate a show. That said, I have read really harsh reviews that made me want to rush out to see the show, in order to form my own opinions. Perhaps in a world where there’s not enough art writing, any publicity is good?

    • I sort of answered your question when I was responding to Lisa Flowers Ross’ question above, check it out and let me know if it helps you. :)

      • Thanks Alyice, unfortunately I took so long to write my comment that Lisa’s similar question was already up! I agree that we need more people in the galleries with our positive writing, so usually when I criticize it’s about things that limit access, like unfriendly staff or not enough information about work.

        Still I think there may be an opportunity to write about work that you didn’t like in a way that intrigues the reader enough to make them check the show out for themselves. Not to promote art that is not good, but perhaps art that is polarizing in some way.

  • Barry Nelson

    Dear Alyson:

    Been following artbizblog for almost two years, and your “why-write” is encouraging me to get off my dead assets and really do something. I live for the love of art; artists and teachers, are my favorite subjects. However, I do not have a Fine Arts degree, I’m not a journalist per se, and until now, I’ve rejected my “skills” as I thought no one in the arts world would accept a mere hack. Yet, I know my community, study art as a hobby, and dammit, the creative process is regularly taken for granted, when it should be inspiring everyone’s imagination.
    You are absolutely right about the decline in art journalism. As newspapers change and lose their distinctive local flavor, the visual arts, in particular, are sideline activities, and placed in the categories of garage sales and arts and crafts.
    So, are you saying your book, and artbiz method is adaptable to arts writing? Can I, in fact, market myself as an arts writer, and can this be an in-road to being a viable “art agent?” Real art marketing? I’ll look at the blog idea, peddle myself around my area in Michigan, and await your next art writing installment. For now, I’m skeptical. Please prove me wrong, and show me the way.

    Barry, in Michigan.

    • Barry: You will not make a living as an arts writer. You write mostly as a contribution to the arts community.

      And writing about art doesn’t lead to becoming an art agent.

      What do you mean by the term “art agent”?

      • Alyson is absolutely right! You don’t make a living writing about art, even for national magazines. The top art critics in the country and the world make a pitiful amount doing it. It is a public service that helps develop dialog within an arts community. And it’s crucial for arts writers to stay far, far away from acting as an agent since that taints their writing. Then they become promoters. Nothing inherently wrong with that but you can’t do both at the same time and have any credibility.

  • Thank you for a great idea

  • I started writing about the specific works in exhibitions I host at the gallery last year. The writings appear on the gallery blog but also on other listservs, in catalogs, on artists websites etc. etc. It takes time but I really enjoy it. I get to know and therefore appreciate these works on a deeper level. When others learn more about the work they too are inclined to appreciate it on a deeper level. For a gallery this results in higher visibility; for the artists I write about, they learn from another’s point of view (these are not interviews or discussions with the artists, all I have is the work in front of me), and can use that to further their work. And yes, it has resulted in sales, which for a gallery is essential.

  • Hi. I’ve been writing as a volunteer for our local paper for about 7 years now. At first I was pretty rusty, but my heart was in the right place and the copy editors were strict but supportive. It is true: you must write to write. Luckily, there are good templates good writing software (many free) and that is really helpful. Besides, you could keep it short, keep it to the standard “Who,what,when, where, why” and you’re ready. Also taking pictures and just writing the captions for them is a skill, and you can hone it in action. If it interests you, it likely will interest others. Allyson’s workshops will jump start your interest and get you moving! Also by the way, I need a job, income, etc. and I can tutor you in writing – I’m actually a certified tutor for writing, art, painting, drawing, and public speaking skills. We can work by skype, so no worries.

  • I’ve been reviewing shows in the SF Bay Area for a few years now for examiner.com, at http://www.examiner.com/art-scene-5-in-san-francisco/arthur-comings. The pay is negligible — nothing compared to the effort that it takes to get a good 300-500 word review together — but the potential exposure is great, and when people subscribe they’re automatically notified of your new reviews.

    Gallery owners and staffers have invariably been very helpful with details and photos. I take some of my own, but they generally have pics that are of good quality. Examiner.com is starting to get very annoying with the ads that they superimpose on my reviews — and even the pics — so I’m starting to reconsider, though.

    • Arthur: Good to know this about you.

      Would you stop writing just because of the ads? Would you take your columns elsewhere?

      • Yes, I would stop; I’m certainly not in it for the money. Examiner.com just instituted a “slide show” option, and I really put a lot of work into assembling pics and stats on all 12 artists in the show. If the gallerist hadn’t had it together, this would have been much more work than it was, but it was enough. Now it turns out that when a pic of an art work pops up, it has a one-line ad across the top. Looks just like a caption until you realize that you’ve been duped. (Yes, I had included a caption, but they didn’t give it as much play as the ad) I don’t want to subject the artists that I’m writing about to that again, so I may just go to a blog, where I can control the presentation.

  • Hi Alyson, I was so pleased by the topic your article. I love writing about art and artists and look forward to reading further tips in the area from you. Now that I realize how important an this issue is now more than ever, I certainly intend to continue to do my part and pass your thoughts on to others. Best wishes, Michelle

  • The reason art critics (and all critics, for that matter) are disappearing from print media is because the number of readers has decreased in proportion to their time spent online. Also, as an art critic myself (and one who publishes online and in print), I will say the leading detriment to critical art coverage in newspapers is because the papers are supported by advertising, which can dictate how news is covered. Its difficult to speak freely about a treasured cultural institution when the arts editor is forced to be chummy with said institution to ensure they keep buying full-page ads for their upcoming child-friendly exhibition that brings in one or two adults and at least two children in admission fees as opposed to one serious art enthusiast. This, of course, is an exception, but people who are really interested in serious art criticism have to look online to find it or else in art magazines devoted to such writing.As for general consumption, our culture does not embrace it as closely as how Big 12 is faring.

    • Blair: Thank you for sharing your professional experience with us.

      I guess it’s a catch 22 at the papers. We recently canceled our paper subscription because the arts reviewer opted for paid (forced) retirement. Or however that’s worded. So much knowledge about the Denver community out the window.

    • While I am more an art fan than a sports fan, the hype is there for sports, the kids and families like to go, and it is an outlet they like. I am reminded of my personal trainer who told me that while people go to college for academics, it is the sports that support the school financially. The data for Colorado Front Range community economics says that the arts offer more new and locally circulating dollars than sports, recreation (ski) combined. I write about this often, yet the conundrum remains: why do we see more on sports than on art? Oddly, we have in our news the politics, disasters, weather, and… sports. Wouldn’t it be fun to have the arts news several times a day: “…artist Janet Sellers just made a touchdown with her brush on a new painting that will rock the world….” heheh.

  • Thank you for this timely encouragement Alyson! Just this year I began a blog that features art that can be seen around my neighborhood to bring attention to the abundance of it. Now that I’m really looking for it, I see it everywhere!
    I agree about keeping it simple. After the first few posts, I began to get nervous so I gave myself a very few basic guidelines because I realized it was better to do it simply and briefly than not to do it at all.
    Recently I expanded the website to include lists of local galleries, and local artists with links to their websites. It is becoming a community art resource, which is very exciting!

    • Lisa, would you be willing to share some of your guidelines with us? Some of us can’t wait til next week’s post :)

      • I apologize that Lisa tried to respond to this post and it didn’t work for her. These are her thoughts, Raylene:

        “The guidelines I gave myself are very simplistic because most of the work I blog about is public art, and my main goal is to draw attention to the fact that it is there. So I always describe the location, or give a specific address. I show pictures that I take with my camera phone, and I reveal the artist when I can. (Artists, please be sure to sign your work in an obvious place!) Sometimes, if I find out something interesting in my research, I will share that. Sometimes, if I am so moved, I will give my opinion about the work. Sometimes, I just meet my self imposed deadline and be happy with that! I post to the blog on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Take a peak, and subscribe if you like http://www.artaroundburbank.com/index.html

  • I think this is an interesting call for us artist. I think it really take some corage to step out of our own skeen and look at other people’s work and seatdown and type/post an interesting and possitive comment about it and for some others to be able to read about it and share the experience.

  • Great article! I agree with you. I am an artist, and I’ve been writing about visual art in my community. Through writing the feature, I have made wonderful friends. In promoting others, I have the opportunity to keep my own name out in front of people. I write for Examiner.com. They are always hiring, and they pay a little bit for your efforts. I started by writing for them, then I also got hired to write for the CBS Tampa web site. Their national magazine gets more exposure than most people can get on their personal blogs. If you want to write for Examiner.com, just use this link, http://exm.nr/kqB6YB You can apply through me as a referral. Best of luck!
    Here’s my feature, check me out!
    Sarah Dees, Tampa Bay Visual Art Examiner
    http://www.examiner.com/visual-art-in-tampa-bay/sarah-dees
    Sarah Dees, Reporter CBS Tampa Arts and Culture
    http://tampa.cbslocal.com/category/best-of/arts-culture/
    Sarah Dees, Tampa Bay Cancer Advocacy Examiner
    http://www.examiner.com/cancer-advocacy-in-tampa-bay/sarah-dees

  • I live in a small rural town in Costa Rica. A monthly publication is sent out via email to many of the expats who live here. I am bilingual so I see many art exhibition notices in the newspaper before most expats do. I send this info out to the participants in my Plein Air group, but why not expand it to the Atenas Today publication?! Thanks, Alyson!

    • Great idea, Jan! You can really have an impact in a localized setting like that. I bet a lot of people will appreciate those noticias. I wish I were down there to help.

  • Recently Alyson gave me some advice to write about other artists. I chose for my first artist Joyce Scott. I didn’t so much review her work as introduce her work to my readers. While I do feel capable and knowledgeable enough to critique other people’s work, I don’t feel comfortable doing this. With so much fine work around, I think it is possible to write only about artists and works I admire. Unless, of course, I decide to review a whole show. Which I’ve yet to consider doing.

    Definitely we need to write more about art and artists because most people have as poor a concept of art and artists as they do science and scientists. Mediocrity is becoming the norm and it’s going to take convincing art writers to hold back this tsunami.

  • Alyson, important post! I wrote for American Artist publications for many years, and I started out writing about other artists. But the important thing for artists to realize is that blog writing is casual. There are no gatekeepers to prevent you from starting. One of my websites has blogs about artists who are my close friends… Their shows and a bit about their life and art. I don’t get a lot of time to write, but it’s kinda fun to help promote my friends’ work from time to time.

    If we all did something like this for our colleagues, it would get the word out there in a bigger way. We don’t necessarily need magazine articles if we have each other. Just go for it.

    • Lori, i love that you said, “blog writing is casual”. I think if you have a personal art blog, sharing information about other artists, and art shows could easily become an extension by simply writing in the same format you do all your other posts.

      We get so scared of what others will say when we talk about other types of art; especially art outside our comfort zone, that we forget one important thing…

      When we talk to our friends, and we’re really excited about an artist, an art show, or a piece of art, we don’t hesitate to talk it all up. All we have to do is write our posts as though we are talking to our dear friends, and the fear subsides, and something really cool transpires.

      • Just to clarify… I’ve written about many types of art for American Artist Magazine since the mid nineties. The reason why I emphasize writing about my friends is that I get requests from artists to look at their work and write about them all the time. I usually get paid for writing, and I do the freeness for artists I know as a favor. I’d certainly do more free stuff if imhad the time, but I paint and teach… And y’all know how muchntime that takes!

        I’ve done a lot of volunteer, as well as “paid for” assignments, but one person can only contribute so much… That’s why I love this post Alyson! It encourages us to get writing and share the load. So often, my artist friends are terrified about writing- about their own art or anyone else’s. I encourage them to start small and simple, and go from there. Most never take me up on it.

        I gave a workshop several years back on how to write art articles. it was well received, but that was long before blogs were popular. Today, it’s easier than ever. Not only are we able to write about each other, I’ve sold some of my friends’ art from my website. As I said, there are no more gatekeepers. The sky’s the limit!

  • One other thought I’d like to share. Since I have friends who write for art magazines as freelancers, I suggested to some of the gallery owners I know that instead of paying big bucks for magazine ads alone, create a newsletter or blog on the gallery website, and hire arts writers to write an online article about the artists in the show… Then directly link to the show page on the gallery website.

    I’m sure collectors would love free online articles about their favorite artists. The writers cost far less than ads, and if the articles are written well, with lots of images, it could grow a huge audience for that gallery’s website. One of my writer friends did get a gallery to take her up on this idea. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s thought of this.

    Altho I realize Alyson that you’re talking about print publications… This would still be free to read.

  • I have on occasion written about the work of other artists but not on any kind of regular basis. I also comment on the work of other artists in my blog once in a while, but you have me thinking here that maybe I should make more of a concerted effort and become a regular reviewer of other’s work. Thanks for the little prodding:-)

  • Alyson,
    I’m seconding your plea!! I’ve been an art critic/arts writer for more than 20 years as part of my art practice, writing for national, regional and local magazines and newspapers. There are very few of us still standing with all of the cuts in print journalism. My editor and I have struggled with cultivating new writers – very few want to pick it up. The pay isn’t great, but the payoffs come in so many other forms. There need to be multiple voices to encourage dialog and discussion. Blogs are a great way to get started, but check with your local or regional alternative paper. Chances are that they are looking for writers.
    Mary

  • I am a emerging artist in sc. I am self taught, I desire to learn new aspects of art daily.
    I have been learning about artist statements. I also always have a hard time giving names and sometimes adequite descriptions of my art and pricing is also tricky. Exspecially when you haven’t had alot of exposure and are not to well known.
    Some of the questions I try to keep in mind start with the typical ones
    cost for materials………location and travel expense, I feel the most important
    what does the piece mean to me. Next the time I spend on it and with what types of mediums….i grew up as a airforce brat and we traveled to many places by the time I was eleven. I am the middle of three children. on our long trips(as a AFB we had many)
    it was important for us children to have something to do so we wouldnt be board or cause mom and dad to pull their hair out lol
    so my brother had his magnetic chess set little sis her dolly and myself anything to draw with
    when I grew so did my passion for creating, I turned 50 in 2012 and It was one of those
    milestone birthdays, you know the ones that make you stop and think. It made me
    stop and think what have I done with my life and where can it go from here?
    At 50 I made the decision to really attempting to get my work out their and share it with the public. So that is what I am doing. I started out sketching and stayed with that most of my life, Then I decided to branch into color. I took a class with a wonderful instructor Sonya Haggan who introduced me to the wonderful world of color
    and then int abstracts. I fell in love with. All my art work contains a cross some or hard to find and others or so obvious it hurts haha. My art is about anything I see or can dream up. most from my imagination. I love to do pictures of children at play, shade trees by the rivers. Hill tops and beautiful sky. I love just to create. i have been involved with a wonderful Exhibit Art of Recovery which is through scmh to help take a way the stigma associated with mental illness
    So far I have had two shows on with Sonya Marie Haggan with friends and family
    upon finishing her class as all students have that option. I was in Art of Recovery 2011 I did not attempt to sell my work at that time. It was on the walls until Sep 2 2011
    I named it A Series of portraits. I sing all my artwork using my middle name first and first letter as initial and last name. I am hoping that I can get opinions and feed back from anyone who comes on my gallery. And hopefully you can tell everyone you know as well. I also am looking for information, buying art supplies in bulk. and how to get my own working space. thank you all so much remember elizabeth j white thats me

  • I wholeheartedly agree! A lot of artists believe that since their work is visual, as long as people see their work, they get it. But for people to emotionally connect with their work and consider buying it, they need a well thought out description to open their mind to a piece’s possible backstories, interpretations. I started an art publication to help artists market their work: http://vvires.com/ It feels great to publicize lesser known talents so they can focus their energies on making actual art.

    • Yes I so want to help others like my self and promote others work
      this may sound clashet’ but Art is in the Eye of the Beholder and what one persons sees may be something for the junkyard, someone elses may have the view this needs to be in place where all can see it……….It goes along with the addage one mans junk is another mans treasure. I believe that is so. I have found this along the way going to art shows and viewing work I admired while someone next to me hated. I have been told art is a expression of ones self.
      I think Art is the soul of who we are. there are those that create and those
      that live to create. I know first hand people that awaken in the night with a idea they just either half to build, mold, draw,or paint at that very moment.
      Art is so useful as a recovery tool. Soldiers have used it in theropy coming home from war zones. I have used it in my personal recovery. I think even people that don’t see their self as a artist may very well be. If you take care of your seeds and sew them carefully and watch them grow, if you cook a meal that gives you a warm feeling in your heart. if you peform a action that touches a heart then you have the soul of an Artist. For Creator and Beholder come together .
      now I am completly changing my subject matter for a couple of tips many know but
      I believe can help cut the cost for artist. you don’t have to buy the very most expensive type of paint if you like acrylics you can go to the craft section of walmart and find paint called folk art it is mixed rather thin but is easy to work with
      and will save $$$$ and u don’t have to limit yourself to Gesso(though I prefer it)
      I have cheated and used regular paint at the paint store. Remember Canvass can be iron skillet a crosscut, saw, I have even used Cardboard. even a paper plate
      also disposable paper plates are excellet pattets less to clean up. I have a artist I am working with to teach me how to make my own pigments, many artist already know these secrets I’m still a work in progress. If I can help anyone or if anyone can ever advice me I can always use it thank you

    • stephanie

      [Vvires] I love your purpose… unfortunately sometimes, a picture isn’t worth a thousand words. An artist’s frustration and failure to sell arises from the many missed opportunities of others understanding their art and making that emotional connection that can only be conveyed in laymen’s terms – words… it’s what shines the light on the true value of the work.

  • I don’t have much more to add here, only to say what a beautifully written and inspiring blogpost this is, Alyson. At the end of a brutal day for me, I feel heartened. Thank you everyone.

  • Agree wholeheartedly! As an artist, I’ve been asked several times in my career to write about the local art scene: visual arts column in Sedona Red Rock News in the 1980s and, most recently, monthly art reviews for an art appraiser’s website http://www.artkestry.com. I only write about artist-friends’ works if they are included in group exhibitions, not solo shows. It is a great way to stay connected to the arts community and to delve into other artist’s heads via their work. Thanks, Alyson.

  • I agree that it is important to comment about other artists’ work. We (artists) need to provide a network to help each other. There are many artists out there, but there are more than enough collectors out there. Commenting on other artists’ works helps both sides. One artist who inspired me to pursue my art career is Pomm. She is a wonderful watercolor and oil artist from California. I went to an art seminar in Nashville a couple of years ago, and she gave me the push I needed to get myself in gear, and not look back. Her belief is that art is important, and we should encourage everyone to embrace it whether as a collector, or as an actual artist. Art helps to shape our world in so many ways. I have started my own blog, and I try to provide inspiration to others, plug other artists and promote my own work. Check my blog out at http://www.artworkbycamille.com/blog

  • stephanie

    I recently started representing artist and curating for a local venue. In venturing into this business (truly new territory for me as I have no formal training in Art, per se) I find being able to describe the business and at minimum edit the bios of the artists I represent essential. Setting up a website and FB page I knew I was going to have to keep the audience engaged to build a following. I even attended a panel discussion regarding art blogging to improve my understanding.
    Your blog has been so vital in my easing into this business. (insert shameless plug… http://www.facebook.com/TripARTattack) Unfortunately my website is not yet up. But thank you so much for the clear direction you share with us every day!
    Do you have any favorites you follow?

  • Hey all…. I actually interview artists for two sites if anyone would love a little coverage for their art. These interviews are more about helping the public get to know the artists on a more personal level, because sometimes that’s all it takes to spread the word about an artist.

    On Empty Easel, I conduct two interviews a month with established artists of all media. My column is here: http://emptyeasel.com/misc/artist-interviews/

    On The Dabbling Mum, I conduct interviews a few times a month, including an “Inside the Studio” feature. My column is here:
    http://thedabblingmum.com/interviews/artists/index.htm

    If you sell any type of original art for under $100 (small pieces, studies, sketches, etc), The Dabbling Mum has a section that introduces artists to the everyday person in a series called, “Affordable Art”.

    There’s a guest post/do-it-yourself interview form here: http://thedabblingmum.com/write4us/interview-artists.htm

    And last year I started reviewing art, not so much for what makes it a good piece, but to sort of get people excited about owning a new piece of art. So… when I can afford to buy a new piece of art, or something really speaks to me and I have to have it, I share it here: http://thedabblingmum.blogspot.com/search/label/Art%20Reviews

    When it comes to reviewing art, you don’t have to be a critique in the traditional sense. I think the key is to start where you are. Share what it is about the art that speaks to you, why you like it, why you wanted it, how it felt to receive the piece of art, or decorate your home with it.

    When it comes to interviewing artists, think about who your blog readers are and ask questions your readers would want to know the answers to.

    For instance, if you have a blog that caters to new moms, and you share tips for new moms on decorating the home, or treating yourself to something special, you could ask questions some personal questions about the artist, like “What are your favorite tips for displaying your particular art with small children in the house?” This question would especially be great for glass blowers, or sculptures of small pieces.

  • I’d just been gearing myself up to start writing about art again so thanks for the push. Arts cuts – well, all cuts – are biting deep here in Spain and there are less shows to visit so I’ll be returning to my Scratch With The Masters series first but I’ll hopefully get back to contemporary artists again soon. I hadn’t thought of it as a way to counteract the cuts so thanks for that.
    It’s been fascinating following all the links in the comments – looks like you’ve got more takers than you might have imagined, Alyson!

  • I was going to publish this article next week but as I read the comments, thoughts and ideas about writing for the arts, I think the timing is better to publish now.

    I wrote about the artist Bev Tosh, who I am proud to call my mentor, my creative go to person and my friend. She has not only been an inspiration to me but a role model of the highest degree.
    You can read it here: http://kimbruce.ca/rants/bev-tosh-a-finer-artist/

    I wonder if another way to write about the arts could be to write about an artist that has affected your arts career. Not necessarily a current exhibition, but rather the artist and their body of work.

  • Not only am I writing about art, I am curating shows!! I have one coming up May 5, the Paintings of Lisa Meyer-Kairos/Polyoptic Landscape and A group show July 7, THREE/3, with Judith Williams, Larraine Seiden and Nancy Pollock. and I have a solo show for me opening June 16!

  • This is with out a doubt the BEST article you have published in the almost 4 years I have been a subscriber. I am in fact an art writer and was so motivated and inspired by this that I have been working on stuff since I read it. I’ve been trying to keep up a blog but kind of run out of interesting stuff to write about so I made a list of 30 people I already know -artists and art businesses and art event contacts – that I could write about, another list of a dozen others I could contact for referrals when the first list is exhausted, and of course made up a blank page to capture referrals from aforementioned dozen contacts. I decided to take from you and write an email to my artist friends and colleagues to launch my Art Journalism Project where I will interview photograph and research them and write little articles that I will use as blog content. Then I found that grant application and I’m going crazy with excitement preparing to submit that. There are so many great projects and links within links within these articles that it is sometimes overwhelming – in a good way. I could spend 40 hours a week following your instruction/projects/programs.

  • Renee

    Wow! I had never thought of this before! I’m in the market for ideas because, effective tomorrow, I’m putting Plan B behind me and pursuing Plan A (professional artist) at full speed! This is an idea that could help build my new life as I complete my MFA studies! I keep your old Podcasts playing in my iPod as I get through the last days of Plan B. At that job, and in my family, I’m the go-to person when it comes to writing. I’m not perfect, but I’m learning everyday!

    If I have a blueprint, so to speak, I could use that in the beginnings of writing about art (on my new blog) because I’d like my blog to inform and inspire! This is a great way to start that process!

    Once again, thank you, Alyson! Your columns and advice are always full of substance! You have NEVER let me down!

  • I have a hard time writing about other’s work. But what I do on my site is publish gallery press releases to get the word out about exhibitions and art related events. I like to publish the ones that are full of information about the work and the artist – things that people would enjoy reading long after the exhibition or event is over.

    I think if you have a hard time writing about other’s work, reading and editing arts press releases might be a good jumping off point to hone your own writing skills.

    One of my other ideas behind writing about the work of other artists is karma. It’s just good karma to support your community, something I try to do on artist-at-large. Artists in the past have been notoriously protective of their own career and very competitive. Writing and publishing about other’s work makes one realize that there is enough for everyone.

  • Alyson, you are so on point! NPR just covered a very interesting move by the NEA + Knight Foundation to support, invigoration and emphasize the importance of art writing with “Community Arts Journalism Challenge: a competition to create new arts journalism models in eights cities.”
    Three cities, Charlotte, Detroit +Philadelhpia were rewarded for coming up with encouraging collaborations + distribution ideas.
    A great read-
    http://m.npr.org/news/front/151286975?page=0

  • Hello Alyson,

    I have to say_ reading a post of this nature, coming from someone of your background, while I have noticed this phenomena of disappearing cultural commentary too_ I really respect that it is you putting out the call to action!

    I just might have to take up on this really appropriate need in what is my guess, is in everyone’s community right now. Somewhere between the blessings gracing life I am experiencing, working on content development together with a team preparing to launch the current art & technology project, and simultaneous cultural research focusing on EML Vigée-Lebrun, & my French classes! It just might be a natural fit!

    Ok! I am feeling like sinking my aesthetic teeth into this one & seeing how much more growth I can realize in a shared passion area, right along with the other equally energetic responders to this delicious call to action!

    Well done putting it out there! Thank-you for the incentive-building invitation to give back!!

    Kerrie

  • […] week I made my case for you to become an arts writer/reviewer. Judging by the comments, a number of subscribers are now on their way to starting their […]

  • Thanks for this encouraging commentary. I’m both a studio artist and a writer. Recently I began writing art reviews about different artists every Saturday on Google +. You can find them by putting #saturdayartreview in the G+ search box. Thanks to your posting here, I’m planning on expanding my writing about the arts on G+ and in other venues. Thanks! ~Shane

  • […] by recent articles I’ve read in the Art Biz Blog and Brian Kliewer’s blog, I think it’s time for my blog to grow in a new direction.  I […]

  • thanks for these great tips

  • This is an amazing post, generating fascinating comments! Many years ago, I was the freelance arts critic for the Poughkeepsie Journal, getting paid $20 an article and one of the best jobs ever. It’s so true that as the locally owned news venues become consolidated, local arts news is disappearing. But as this post reminds us, we can help fill the gap.

    One of the great things about writing about other artists’ work is that it gives you a fresh perspective. And it’s really fun, too. I’ve added a “Guest Spot” feature to my blog. The artists choose what work they’d like to have featured, then I combine my thoughts with a brief statement they’ve written for the Guest Spot. I send them draft text and layout to approve before posting, and we work together to finish the post. It’s a challenge to make sure their work is presented as accurately and effectively as possible, but truly rewarding when it’s finally online.

    To check them out, see http://catrutgers4art.com/guest-spot/ Seven were done in 2011, and this article reminds me that it’s way past time to get them rolling again for 2012. Thanks, Alyson!

  • […] making a case for artists to become an arts writer/reviewer […]

  • […] my creative capacities sharp and inspired. One of my favourite art coaches Alyson Stanfield (Art Biz Blog) recently noted how important it is to keep the work of artists alive in the public’s imagination […]

  • Hey Alyson, just wanted to say a quick thank you for this article. I’ve just started a blog about the arts in my area, and I’m slowly finding my own voice and trajectory. This really helps me see that the arts scene is struggling for exposure and excitement, and it’s not just my circle of friends.

    • Eric: Good work! I wonder why you don’t identify yourself on the site. Is there a reason for that?

      • Alyson: Mainly because I was intending to start something of an institution that would incorporate various writers and columns. It’s a great idea, but not something that is remotely interesting to people at this early stage.

        In fact, most of the feedback I’ve been getting has been, “Where are you? We want more of your personality.” So I’m headed toward ditching the neutral objectivity and injecting myself fully into blogging, on a blog, not an e-magazine.

        And thanks again for your site! It’s been extremely helpful to me as I figure these things out…

        • I hear ya. But institutions are infinitely more interesting and worthy when they have a personality. PLUS, we want to know who we’re reading from: what are their credentials? More importantly, why should we listen to them?

          Even if you do add others, you can still keep your personality – a la copyblogger.

          Glad to hear that I’m not alone in wanting this for your site.

  • […] I implored you to write art reviews due to the dearth of arts reviewers. Some of you have taken me up on it, which I’m thrilled […]