Art Writing, Art Criticism, Tomato, Tomatoe, whatever – Part II

My take on the 10 tips (specific to art writing and criticism)…


1. Cut the boring parts. = Talk about something exciting. If there’s a piece or a show that falls short, provide constructive criticism without being brutal. I mean, for goodness sake, artists do need to hear it when they haven’t pushed boundaries enough. Yet, writers need to be brave enough to say, “You didn’t make me feel what you were trying to execute”.


2. Eliminate unnecessary words. = Take out any superfluous words and don’t be flowery (even though this is difficult for me to do, sometimes).


3. Write with passion. = Write authentically. Be genuine. People will know when you don’t mean it…


4. Paint a picture. = The whole idea of “show” and don’t “tell”. Unless you’re trying to command attention and have a specific reason to give direction, you need to describe what it is you see, especially if you’re describing art.


5. Keep it simple. = I heard it best put during a Critical Writing Workshop offered by The Lab in conjunction with Art Practical, one of the critics mentioned, “Write to an intelligent friend that doesn’t have time for bullsh*t”. Yes!


6. Do it for love. = See #3.


7. Learn to thrive on criticism. = People will love or hate you. Or sit on the fence when it comes to enjoying or disliking what you write. Learn to respect and appreciate opposing opinions or feedback.


8. Write all the time. = Well, create a schedule for yourself. If you’re incentive driven (like me), give yourself a reward or set a goal. Or, as Betty Edwards put it, draw (in this case, write) for 2 minutes! Typically, if you do something for at least 2 minutes and you find yourself engaged with the activity, you’ll probably continue past the 2 minutes mark.


9. Write what you know…or, what you want to know. = See #s 3 and 6


10. Be unique and unpredictable. = Hmmmm, this is debatable. Everyone is unique and has their own story but unpredictable? Well, I guess that’s up to the individual to decide.

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Author: Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos is a writer, editor, curator, and educator whose research areas and interests include new media and digital art, activism, artificial intelligence, networked culture, and biotechnology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco, and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She is currently the managing editor for Hyphen magazine. Her work appears in art21, Art Practical, Daily Serving, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, and Public Art Dialogue. She has lectured and spoken at the De Young museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Stanford University, School of Visual Arts, and more. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” has been published to The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture in 2016. She serves as executive staff for the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism, board member for the SOMArts Cultural Center, and teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz in the Digital Art and New Media department.

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