So you want to write for Hyperallergic. Great — we want you to write for us too. We publish hundreds of freelance contributors and are always looking for new writers, especially those who come from marginalized communities.
The single best way to get a sense of what we’re interested in is to read the site. This will give you an idea of the types of stories we cover and the different approaches we take. You’ll notice that certain topics come up again and again: how art can be a tool for social justice, where art intersects with science, the politics of the art world, internet culture. We’re always interested in these subjects, but we’re not limited to them. Our guiding principle is a curiosity about how art and visual culture relate to and reflect the wider world, and the most important thing we look for, regardless of form, is critical thinking. We also welcome stories from around the globe — Hyperallergic is based in NYC, but we have contributors and readers in dozens of countries. Just keep in mind that a local story will need a farther-reaching angle or takeaway to work for us.
You should note that while we’re technically an art publication, we’re not interested in speaking only to an art crowd. Make sure your pitch gives us a sense of why this story has a wider appeal. (“Why should we care?” is a question that comes up a lot in editorial meetings.) Usually there’s something in a Hyperallergic piece that would make even a self-proclaimed “non-art person” want to read it.
Note: If your pitch contains artspeak, it will be deleted. Immediately. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
With all that said, here are some of the different forms your piece could take:
Reported story: These are usually tied to the news. They vary in length — shorter pieces tend to be reports from events like protests; longer ones will dig into the story behind a news item with a lot more reporting and research. We do also publish articles about exhibitions and event recaps, if there’s an interesting backstory or you have a specific take. Timeliness is important — we want to publish while the exhibition is up or soon after the event happens.
Review: We’re primarily a visual art publication, so in terms of reviews, things like exhibitions, artist biopics, and art books are our bread and butter. But we do run reviews of works in other forms. Generally, we look for a strong visual element (e.g. comics, experimental films, plays or dances with striking settings or surprising inspirations) or some kind of cultural commentary (e.g. poetry, essay collections), and we’re not very interested in the mainstream, though we make exceptions. Hyperallergic Weekend has a music critic; beyond that, we rarely write about music (but we love sound art).
A note on timing: We’ll pretty much only run exhibition reviews while shows are open. That means you should pitch us in advance. For live performances (theater, performance art, dance), we also prefer to have a review during the run, but we understand that sometimes performances happen on one or two nights only; pitch us anyway, also ideally in advance (though if you saw a show that changed your life and it’s already over, you should still try us). For film reviews, pitch us early so that we can help you get a press copy before the screening. We’re more flexible with book reviews — we’ll consider it as long as the book came out in the last six months.
Interview: We’re always interested in a good Q&A. As with almost everything else we publish, we like there to be a peg — why interview this person now? (Maybe they won an award or have an exhibition on view.) When you pitch, think about not just the person but the topic. We’ll most likely not accept an interview with an artist we’ve never heard of who makes zombie formalist paintings. But we might accept if they’re doing something unique, or if they seem especially qualified to discuss a subject we want to hear more about. (Note: We do not accept pitches for the Beer with a Painter series.)
Photo essay: We have a big, beautiful photo essay format we’re always itching to use. We like pieces that give us a first look at new art spaces, take us to places we can’t easily visit on our own, or give us access to one-off events and shows. Expect to give us around 20 images and a short introductory text.
Opinion piece: You’ve probably noticed that Hyperallergic is opinionated! (Everyone knows objectivity is a myth, right?) We love when our writers are too. But it’s important to make sure those opinions are well-researched and -argued. Don’t pitch us a silly #hottake. Convince us that your thoughts on this issue matter. And don’t feel wedded to the classic op-ed format (we have a thing for open letters).
Miscellaneous others: Most of our stories from freelancers fall into one of the above categories, but there are other approaches you might try. We like well-researched, topical essays and have been known to publish personal ones too. We always love a good humor piece, even when it’s not April Fool’s. We have regular comics artists, but we’re on the lookout for more. You could even try something completely different — pitch us art-related flash fiction! We value experimentation very highly.
A few more notes on pitching:
- Keep it fairly short, two paragraphs tops.
- After you’ve pitched your story, introduce yourself (in a few sentences). If you’ve never written for us before, include links to a few clips or attach writing samples.
- Tell us if you’re working with a PR company, or if the city of Dubai or a private foundation is flying you somewhere. Tell us if you’re pitching a review of your friend’s work. If you don’t tell us, we’ll find out anyway, and then we’ll be pissed and kill your piece.
- We prefer pitches but will consider submissions. Introduce the piece and yourself in the body of your email (see above), then attach it.
- Include relevant dates for a show/film screening/etc. in your pitch. Also link to a page with more info about it.
- Tell us if you’re simultaneously pitching the same story elsewhere.
- The daily and weekend editions of Hyperallergic have separate editors. If your pitch lands in the wrong place, or if we think it fit better in the other section, we’ll pass it along.