Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How to Make it Rich as a Modern Artist

Over the last several weeks, I've been trying to figure out a way to get rich quick.  I mean stinking rich.  Most of my ideas are either illegal or seem to end up with me crocheting winter hats and scarves (which is neither quick nor likely to make me rich) and then yesterday I came up with THE answer.

I'm going to make my millions selling modern art.  And I'm going to show you how to do it too.  In five easy steps.

1.  Invent a new name.
Your name now is almost guaranteed not to be good enough.  It needs to have that certain ring to it, that je ne sais quoi that makes those who appreciate your art feel wildly intelligent just pronouncing it.  It must be at least 25 letters in length (as in Friedensreich Hundertwasser) or so ridiculous sounding that it makes the artist sound like a genius (Cy Twombly).

2. Create a Persona.
This is the most difficult part of becoming a rich and famous artist. Your real life probably won't do.  First of all, you'll have to remove your Facebook profile and any mention of your past.  You have to create an air of mystery, and if there are photos of you from last year's Christmas party with your underwear wrapped around your head, this will not help.

If at all possible, move.  Not to a single detached bungalow in the suburbs either.  If you can afford to move to Belize, or Tasmania or Cameroon, go there now.  If you have to stay where you are, then move to a shack in a rundown area of the city, or an abandoned church, or an old tent in the bush.  American artist Cy Twombly moved to a grimy area of Rome which once burned heretics.  This is an excellent choice of living location.

Become a recluse.  If you're a naturally gregarious person, this might be difficult to achieve, so you might want to get an aggressive dog, or several hundred cats. 

Finally, when out in public, do things that get you noticed.  Once your art is well-known, you want people to see you as "misunderstood" rather than strange.  Hundertwasser was brilliant at this, as can be seen from this speech he gave in 1968.

3.  Create Your Masterpiece
Now for the easy and most fun part of the exercise!  You can use absolutely anything to create your art - Joash Woodrow of Yorkshire, England, used coal sacks, potato bags, cereal boxes and even smashed up his piano to use as pieces for a sculpture.  (This last move, by the way, is brilliant, because it adds to the perplexing persona of the mad artist.)  If you don't have the inclination to sculpt, then splurge on a large canvas and create your art that way.  Incorporate pens, pencils, paint, used engine oil - anything that will stick to the surface is fair game.
Now, what will you draw?  Here is the key.  It does not matter.  Anything is fine.  Here is an example. 

This piece, entitled "No. 5, 1948" by Jackson Pollock sold for $140 million dollars in 2006.  I don't think Pollock even sketched the picture lightly in pencil first.  So, just go for it.  Here's another example from Cy Twombly.

As you can see from this example, if you can't think of anything to draw or paint, just write something.  You don't even have to have a steady hand, and if you need to cross bits out, don't go hunting for that eraser, just let it be part of the art. 

Once you've completed your first work,you're well on your way to becoming a filthy rich modern artist!  In the next installment I will show you the two important final steps needed to ensure success in your new career.

Until then....good luck!


  1. A fine example of true art, if I may say so. I know it’s not easy to put a price on such things, but, would you accept £150 million for this piece? A mere token compared to its actual value, I know.
    The enigmatic, masked blogger strikes again

  2. I think we could work something out.

  3. Hey! Me first, me first!!

  4. well good luck with this plan!

    i work in a contemporary art gallery, and i was an art major in college. i am constantly exposed to art -- some i love, some i mock, and some i HATE.

    many many artists have so much talent. many artists DO NOT (at least in my opinion). the successful ones don't always have the most talent -- kind of like the giant successes in the music, fashion and entertainment industry that can be rather PERPLEXING. sigh. talent + timing + who you know sure helps. winning the big bucks and big prize isn't always MERIT-BASED, that is for sure!

    boy, i am a babbling fool here! sorry for prattling on for days in this comment!

  5. Thanks for your post drollgirl! I agree completely with what you're saying...there are some rich and famous people out there who are talented, and some who really aren't. I'm not, but I think I still have a good shot at this. I hope you agree after reading steps 4 and 5.

    Oh, and Prue - I'll give you a cut of the 150 million if you're nice (and seeing as you're my mother!)