Introducing Variable Voice: Letter from the Editor

Variable Voice logo in a wiggly magenta, sans serif font

Over the past ten years, my life as an art writer has only been possible because of the support and trust of mentors and colleagues. Editors took chances on me, professors encouraged me and helped me make connections, and I swapped editorial feedback with my network of peers. These interactions were absolutely essential to my growth as a young writer, yet they feel like an impossibility in today’s new world of cascading closures, cancellations, and social isolation.

The media and publishing worlds have been in trouble for a while—years before the pandemic—with countless magazines, newspapers, journals, and blogs shutting down, often abruptly, citing a lack of financial sustainability. Two of these recent deaths hit me particularly hard: The Village Voice in 2018, and Art Practical earlier this year. To me, both publications represent environments where emerging writers could learn about the business, develop their voice, and build their career. Their absences leave a palpable void—one I am determined to fill in whatever way I can.

With that in mind, I’m relaunching Variable West’s editorial venture as the online journal Variable Voice. You can expect exhibition reviews, essays, interviews, Love Letters, and other series that try to find a balance between generous, accessible language, zealously researched topics, and experimental prose that challenges the conventions of each format.

Of course, I could never replace these two publishing legacies, but I am deeply inspired by what they both did for art criticism and writing. No other art journals have dedicated as much care and passion to the West Coast art ecosystem as Art Practical. No other newspaper—alternative or mainstream—compares to The Village Voice‘s radical, celebratory, razor sharp criticism and journalism. I hope to infuse the essences of both these publications in everything we produce in Variable Voice.

You might be thinking: Sure, great ideas, but how will we stay afloat when so much of the publishing world is drowning? That’s where our incredible community comes in. By becoming a monthly subscriber or making a one time donation, you can help reinvigorate, sustain, and expand West Coast art writing and scholarship. Plus, I’ll be hustling everyday to find new funding opportunities. We’re extremely fortunate to have received a grant from Critical Minded, which will help us start with some real momentum.

Head to the Variable Voice page to see what we have published so far, and stay tuned for more!

I’m so excited for this new adventure, and can’t wait to share it with you.


Amelia Rina

Founder and Editor,
Variable West