Jerry Saltz “How to be an artist”

So it’s an interesting time to do a booktour – in a pandemic – Jerry Saltz is co-chief Art Critic for New York Times with his wife, Robert Smith – and is currently on the road, with pre-publicity for his book “How to be an artist”.

As usual (see his instagram feed @jerrysaltz) he is to-the-point, no beating around the bush.  I’ve pre-ordered a copy of his book, so will post a personal review in due course.  (Who critiques the critics?)

Here he is, in a video interview in Toronto, by a brand-new but promising Youtube channel, Artifier. 

And he’s answering young artists’ questions on what type of art they should make for the market, crisply:Screen shot 2020-03-13 at 15.24.17

“Make anything you want: public, private, conceptual: every work of art’s conceptual, every visual work of art is conceptual, and every conceptual work is visual”

His communication

It’s instantly clear that he cares deeply about art, and wants to engage people in conversation with it.  He’s down to earth, and quick to point out that he didn’t write until he was 41 (becoming the Village Voice art critic), didn’t get a degree and is a ‘failed’ artist himself.  (He doesn’t mention that he’s won a Pulitzer prize, two honorary doctorates and published 2 volumes of his criticism at the Village Voice).

His style is very personable and direct – in this interview, he answers questions directly to the interviewer, but then gradually will turn aside to look directly into the camera, and engage the viewers, face-to-face so to speak.  It feels a wonderfully inclusive conversation.

He couldn’t be boring if he tried – and he’s not trying to be.

BE artists of modern life…. turn the page

The book “How to be an Artist” officially goes on sale 17th March 2020 (at the time of writing, just 4 days away).  It is hardback and, as he points out, very reasonably priced. (It’s about the cost of a coffee and slice of cake.  But that’s not to say that you should forego the company of these while reading the book).


Jerry has a relaxed interview on the Dave Chang Podcast which you can listen to here.

Dave begins by talking to his listeners for around 15 minutes before Jerry is added to the conversation.  Questions range across quite a prairie of questions, including:

  • Has the whole idea of being creative been marketed as fulfilment?
  • Van Gogh’s life as an artist (Dave Chang is reading a biography of the artist)
  • Do you have to suffer to make great art?  Jerry: “no; everybody suffers.” There’s suffering in work but also joy and love.




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