Become an Art Writer: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements needed to become an art writer. Learn about the career and educational requirements and explore the step-by-step process that can help you start a career in art writing. View article »

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  • 0:02 Becoming an Art Writer
  • 0:19 Career Information
  • 1:22 Step 1: Earn a Writing Degree
  • 2:19 Step 2: Learn About Art
  • 3:21 Step 3: Build Writing…
  • 3:42 Step 4: Find…

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Video Transcript

Becoming an Art Writer

Art writers compose articles and books that discuss various pieces of art work. For example, they may describe the subject matter of paintings, or they may compare the styles of two artists. Some art writers may examine art history, whereas others may write about present-day artists or art forms.

Career Information

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Communications, English, or journalism
Experience Prior professional writing experience preferred but not always required
Key Skills Ability to review art work objectively and talk with people in the art industry; strong self-motivation and ability to meet deadlines; creativity; familiarity with descriptive writing techniques, artistic styles, and art history; ability to obtain factual information, organize written documents, and format articles for publication
Salary $60,250 (2015 median salary for writers/authors)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Writing about Art' articles from college websites

Many art writers work on a freelance basis and which allows them to set their own hours; however, freelancers usually get paid per assignment, so a steady income is not guaranteed. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2015 authors and writers in general earned a median annual salary of $60,250. As noted by the BLS, writers and journalists who possess bachelor's degrees in communications, English, or journalism may find better job opportunities. Past experience as a writer or in an art-related careers may also prove beneficial. Art writers must have a thorough knowledge of art history and/or artistic styles. They should also be able to review artwork objectively and be comfortable talking with people in the art industry. Art writers should be able to conduct research, organize written documents, and write descriptively. Once employed, they'll have to format articles for publication and meet deadlines.

Step 1: Earn a Writing Degree

While not all writers possess bachelor's degrees, degree programs in communications, English, or journalism often provide extensive training in researching, writing, and editing. English degree programs may cover topics in composition, creative writing, literary analysis, cultural studies, and linguistics. Communications and journalism programs may offer courses in news reporting and editing, advertising, multimedia reporting, and communications law.

Success Tip:

Take media writing classes. Art writers often compose articles for magazines and newspapers, but not all English degree programs prepare students for writing for the media. Students in English degree programs can choose to take media writing courses, or they can minor in journalism. Coursework may provide aspiring art writers with information about research strategies, formatting requirements, and industry-based writing styles.

Step 2: Learn About Art

Art has many subfields. Aspiring art writers can study art history and focus on specific periods or cultures. They can also examine different styles of art, such as Impressionism, Realism, or Renaissance. Future art writers can also choose to review different artistic media including sculpture, paintings, photography, videos, graphic design, and architecture.

Earning a degree in art is not necessarily required for becoming an art writer, but taking postsecondary courses in art may help people become experts in the field. While earning bachelor's degrees in writing-related majors, students can minor in art or art history. Individuals may also choose to study art on their own time by reading books and going to museums.

Success Tip:

Choose a specialty. Professionals who want to write about art may consider focusing on one or two specific subfields. Additionally, having a specific writing niche may make it easier for writers to locate potential employers or publishers.

Step 3: Build Writing Experience

According to the BLS, writers and journalists can build experience by composing blogs or Web content, submitting articles to newspapers, and taking freelance jobs. Many writers and journalists develop portfolios of their best pieces and keep records of where their work has been published, to show future employers.

Step 4: Find Employment/Continue Education

Freelance art writers may have to spend time trying to sell their articles or books to magazines, newspapers, or publishers. Journalists who write about art may find staff positions with magazines or newspapers. However, according to the BLS, reporter and correspondent positions are expected to decrease by 8% from 2014 to 2024. Writers who can utilize digital media outlets may find more job opportunities, since the publishing industry is moving away from traditional print media?.

Success Tip:

Follow trends in the art world. Art writers may need to know about the newest popular artists, which artistic styles are currently in use, or how artists develop new media forms.

If you're still thinking about becoming an art writer, you'll have a better chance of finding freelance or staff-based work if you have a bachelor's degree in communications, English, or journalism; a knowledge of art forms and history; and prior writing experience.

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