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.
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
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.