What does an Art Editor do?

Cassie L. Damewood

An art editor's job can vary, depending on the publication for which she works. In many places, the term refers to a design or layout professional whose job it is to choose photos or other images for the publication and make sure they are displayed effectively on the page. The job title can also refer to the editor of the arts pages, the person who is responsible for assigning stories and approving art-related content for that section of a newspaper.

An art editor reviews the work of photographers.
An art editor reviews the work of photographers.

In some publishing houses, the art editor is in charge of a team of designers who are responsible for the overall look of the publication. This team works with the product layout and overall design look and consistency. Generally, they're in charge of all photos, graphic elements and illustrations used, and they are able to work in both print and digital publication systems. Oftentimes, this group is responsible for producing online video productions as well, especially at larger publishing houses.

At some publications, the art editor is responsible for writing about the art world.
At some publications, the art editor is responsible for writing about the art world.

For small or independent publications, the art editor is often the sole contributor to an arts section, rather than in charge of an arts department. She chooses topics, conducts interviews, writes reviews and takes the accompanying photographs. She also may write articles and verify facts and figures. There generally is no other staff to make contributions in smaller publishing companies.

Art editors may critique local installations.
Art editors may critique local installations.

At larger publications with an arts section, the art editor is often only responsible for choosing and editing the articles, illustrations and photographs for publication. She seldom, if ever, makes personal contributions to the section. In this case, reviews, articles, photographs and art submissions are made by staff members and freelancers who report to her.

Art editors must work under tight deadlines.
Art editors must work under tight deadlines.

The job of art editor can be narrow if only art such as paintings, drawings and sculpture is included in the art section. If art is interpreted more generally, the editing tasks may include articles and photographs regarding television, music and film. Art sections with such a wide scope are usually part of larger publications and often concentrate on different art mediums on specific days of the week.

Meeting deadlines is a high priority for this position. She commonly has to write, edit, verify and submit error free copy within hours of obtaining information. If a staff is involved, the art editor is required to be in constant communication with them to ensure deadlines are met.

It is highly preferred that an art editor have a genuine passion for the arts. Sincere enthusiasm reflected in articles about events and news in the art world attracts and holds the attention of readers. It also contributes to the overall success of the publication.

Magazines are among publications that employ art editors.
Magazines are among publications that employ art editors.

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