Part of Art UK's mission is to tell the stories behind the nation's art. With a readership of 3 million annual users, we mainly publish stories about the artworks, artists and collections represented on the site, as well stories that link this art to broader themes.
While some stories are produced internally or by staff at art collections, we also commission writers on a freelance basis. Anyone is welcome to pitch an idea – especially writers from marginalised backgrounds.
What we are looking for
Our aim is to publish compelling, illustrated stories that bring to life artworks in UK collections.
We will occasionally consider strong pitches that do not directly refer to the database, depending on if the writer can source enough copyright-cleared images. However, most successful pitches specify, from the very start, which Art UK artworks will illustrate the writing.
We publish for a 'general audience', meaning our content is not academic. We do, however, expect our contributors to send us writing that is well researched, thought provoking and offers refreshing angles on visual culture. Pitch the piece as if you are telling a story through artworks.
Art UK's audience includes art enthusiasts: people already knowledgeable about art. However, we also want our content to be enjoyed by people who don't think of themselves as traditionally as art lovers – we have found that amazing stories can be told when art intersects with science, history, fashion or pop culture. For this reason, we like to publish stories on wider themes as well as writing that is purely about art and artists.
Art UK is always seeking pitches about diverse or underrepresented subjects, such as stories relating to LGBTQ+ history, or portraits of Black subjects.
Think about whether your piece is:
- reactive and topical – relates to current issues, exhibitions or publications
- 'evergreen' – always relevant, no matter when a reader comes across it
Art UK publishes both reactive and evergreen content. Reactive content may require a strict deadline or quick turnaround but may prove more popular at the time of publishing.
Stories can be anywhere from around 800 to 1,800 words (Art UK will advise when commissioning).
Within your copy, include the URL links to artworks on Art UK.
You may also supply additional (copyright-cleared) images, but please be aware that Art UK has limited resources to check artist copyright. When pitching you should consider if you might need to source external images and specify this to the editors.
Some videos (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) or social media posts (Instagram, Twitter, etc.) may be embedded into the body of the article – for examples, see 'Paula Rego…' or 'Ten artists to follow…'. If you wish to use this feature, please provide the URL to the video or post with your copy.
Some of our most popular stories include:
- Lesbian love and coded diaries: the remarkable story of Anne Lister
- Dead pretty: the perils of Georgian beauty regimes
- Queen Anne in 'The Favourite': gout, scandal and sabotage
- Seven female Pre-Raphaelites
- More than muses: the women at the centre of Surrealism
- Ten black British artists to celebrate
- Sixteen wonderful Welsh artists
- Saint Sebastian as a gay icon
What we are not looking for
Opinion pieces, experimental poems or prose, or stories that are completely unrelated to visual culture more broadly.
Please also consider that some artistic mediums are more difficult to illustrate, e.g. video art, live performance.
How to pitch
Send a brief statement (no more than 250 words) outlining your pitch to firstname.lastname@example.org
We prefer pitches but will consider submissions: contributors may send unsolicited finished pieces if they wish, but it is recommended writers submit a brief initially – as we may think something is unsuitable, or want to suggest a slightly different angle.
With your pitch, include also a suggestion for the title and links to some of the relevant artworks/artists on Art UK. Flag if the story is time sensitive.
After a pitch is agreed upon, an Art UK editor will negotiate a copy deadline and provide editorial guidelines.