Building a Career as an Arts Writer

Learn the nuts and bolts of a career as an arts writer. Arts writers write about many topics: they review contemporary art exhibitions, current events in the art world, and more. Many arts writers write for several publications, find out about what arts writers are looking for in their articles and what their experiences are like attending museums and galleries. Discussion by Art Prof Clara Lieu and multidisciplinary artist and writer Isis Davis-Marks.

Guest Artist

Isis Davis-Marks

Isis Davis-Marks is a multidisciplinary artist and writer based in New York City. Her artwork has been exhibited at the Yale School of Art, Brian Leo Projects, and La Loma Projects and has been featured in The Rumpus and The Nation.

Her writing has been referenced in the New York Times ​and has been published in Artsy, smithsonianmag.com, Hyperallergic, Elephant magazine, Widewalls, King Kong Garçon, the Columbia Journal, and elsewhere. She has been making art for as long as she can remember.

Through the use of painting, drawing, text, and fabric, Isis explores different materials in order to tell stories about identity, everyday moments, femininity, race and class.

Video Walkthrough

  • How Isis got started with her career as an arts writer.
  • Isis’ experience as a Philosophy and Visual Arts major at Yale University
  • Isis’ undergraduate experience taking journalism classes, writing for the student newspaper.
  • How arts writers develop relationships with their editors.
  • Editors often match specific exhibition reviews with an arts writer whose work they know.
  • Art writers can pitch topics and exhibitions to review to editors.
  • Public relations people will often reach out to arts writers to promote specific artists or exhibitions.
  • The art world has a lot of barriers for entry, it can be classist, racist, sexist, and more.
  • A lot of the reasons why artworks are in museums has a lot to do with politics.
  • There are ethical debates about specific artworks in museums.
  • How do you write an exhibition review for a show you as an arts writer feel “meh” about?
  • Opinions on art online are often very black and white, when really, discussing artwork is not that straightforward.
  • If you look at resumes of art critics you’ll notice that many started as studio artists.
  • Isis’ balance as a practicing studio artist and an arts writer.
  • Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, which pushed the idea of ready made art.
  • Do’s and don’ts for artists when contacting or communicating with an arts writer.
  • It’s very common for stories that an arts writer starts to get scrapped, don’t take it personally!
  • Don’t assume as an artist that if an arts writer attends your opening that they will definitely write about your exhibition.
  • You can email arts writers, but many have overflowing inboxes
  • Many arts writers are more likely to reply to an Instagram or Twitter DM.

Articles by Isis Davis-Marks


Books mentioned

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