11st Q on Dec - How to be an art critic?
First of all, thank you for your concern about the Art Critic “industry” and the livelihood of the artists.
To be an Art Critic, you must have the ability to understand art and the ecology situation in the art industry. This includes interpretation of works and exhibitions, active participation in local and international art events, and most importantly, the ability to comprehend ideas into writing. There is no designated path for becoming an Art Critic. They can come from art academies, academic field, media industry or literature field. We even see some Art Critics entered the field through writing, initiated by their great interest in art. In others words, you can become an Art Critic if you are passionate about art with sound knowledge in art and strong writing skill.
There is no stringent statistics for the time being on how many people in Hong Kong are involved in art critics, and what is the average income. You may check out the column “Finding Art” 「尋找藝術」from our blog, which has many articles written by Art Critics. Art Critic and Art Journalist are two distinct concepts, and the latter should not be in your questions.
The remuneration for art commentary articles are based on word count, and each article is limited by publishing space. There is not many spaces available for art review articles in published media in Hong Kong, therefore, it’s almost impossible to make a living based on remunerations solely from writing art reviews. The situation may be better if there is a fixed working relationship between the Art Critic and a commercial gallery, or if the Art Critic can write English comments.
When looking into the profiles of Art Critics around the world, many have others roles, such as university scholars, curators, or researchers. In other words, Art Critics have a variety of ways to survive, writing review is just one of them. I want to point out that Art Critic, unlike ordinary jobs, is not only a profession, it is also an integral part of the art ecology and the culture composition. If we only focus on monetary rewards, Art Critic is considered insignificant and brings no prospect. But each piece of work that Art Critics painstakingly produced is recording the culture history of a place. Without the writing of the perspective of the viewing and field for discussion on an exhibition or a project, there may be only basic information left about the exhibition or project after decades passed.