Art Editor and Critic

Art editors and their editorial staff and freelance art critics, are responsible for the total make-up and presentation of the art section of the paper or periodical in the same manner in which the news editors and their staff cover the news section. 

Art journalists, reporters or reviewers write articles covering a wide range of art subjects. They interview well-known stage, television and film personalities, directors, song and musical artists and other entertainment artists. They attend all kinds of concerts - light music to opera and other forms of classical music, as well as songs covering the same spectrum, performances such as stage and movie productions and painting, sculpture and other arts.  They often accompany film and television teams, sending their reports to their editor by fax, telephone or telex. Sometimes freelance or part-time journalists are used to cover certain events or to interview personalities.

The duties of art editors and their staff thus entail obtaining art news, interviewing newsworthy art personalities, liaison with local and overseas agencies, attending concerts, film and other previews (sometimes accompanied by a photographer) and writing their reports / articles. Many reports have to be written during the evening where the event is taking place or the personality is being interviewed, in order to be on time for the newspaper or magazine.

Art editors often work with editors-in-chief or production managers who want a specific look for their projects.  The art editor will try to implement their vision by properly editing the materials that they receive.  When they work with production managers or producers, they are in charge of putting the materials together by coordinating with the artists themselves and other people involved in the project.

Art critics typically fall into two categories:

  • journalistic art critics write for newspapers or magazines and report news and reviews of local art beats, including gallery openings, art museum shows and art exhibits,  Their duty is to interpret the artwork's meaning and explain their assessment of the piece's value in a readable and interesting manner.  In addition to writing intelligent articles and reviews, they must also work with their editors to clarify, revise or shorten articles.
  • scholarly art critics write for art journals, universities and other professional art organisations.  They cater to the professional art crowd and often prepare academic conference presentations for fine art professionals.  They may review exhibits or artworks that are less known among the general public.  Some teach at universities or work for art museums as curators.  Many scholarly art critics concentrate on a specific style, artist or medium, such as oils, pastels, acrylics, watercolours or charcoal.  They need to be very knowledgeable with regard to the various art styles and movements.

Personal Requirements

  • be interested in all forms of art
  • have a broad knowledge of most of the art forms and information about the newest happenings in the art world
  • have the ability to communicate easily with artists, entertainment artists and other art personalities
  • be able to write well in the language of the newspaper or the magazine
  • be able to communicate well in English since overseas personalities are mostly interviewed in English
  • be able to handle pressure

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: Visual Arts or a related subjects is highly recommended
Recommended subjects: Visual Arts, Design Studies, Engineering and Graphic Design


  • An art portfolio is required to demonstrate your creativity, abilities and commitment.
  • If you intend studying towards a degree in Fine Art at university, you will need to a Bachelor's pass in matric. If you intend studying a diploma in an art-related field, then you will need a Diploma pass in matric.
  • Meet the admission requirements (APS) set by the university or requirements set by the college.

What to Study

Degree: A BA degree in the Social Sciences with at least one language and subjects like Art History, Communication Studies, Journalism and Drama can be followed. All South African universities offer BA degrees. The subjects offered differ from university to university.

Diploma: An N.Dip. Journalism can be followed at the universities of technology.

An N.Dip. Public Relations can be followed at CPUT, DUT, NMMU, TUT, UNISA and VUT. These courses each take 3 years to complete. A BTech Language Practice or a BTech Fine Art can also be obtained from various universities / universities of technology, e.g. NMMU, UJ, UL and UZ. A person with training in the performing or fine arts at a university or university of technology may also consider this career.


  • newspapers and magazines that have an art section
  • self-employed, can work as a free-lance journalist for newspapers and magazines

Further Information

  • contact the above-mentioned universities or universities of technology
  • visit the offices of a newspaper or magazine

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation work in this field
  • make an appointment to speak to an art editor or critic about this career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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