Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How to Make it Rich as a Modern Artist - Part 2

In yesterday's post, I discussed the first three steps you need to take to make your fortune as a modern artist.  If you haven't had chance to read the first post, you'll find it below.

Now, I'm assuming everyone's had time to come up with an artsy-sounding name, created a new persona, moved to a more exotic locale and painted their first masterpiece.  Good.  Now for the last two steps.

4.  Name Your Masterpiece.
You might think this step is easy, but in fact it is much more difficult than creating the artwork itself.  It is vital that the name is thought-provoking.  You want those who see your art to really have to THINK about what it means.  Make up words, use little-known characters from mythology, foreign words, or choose "loaded" names or words with many connotations.    If they have to Google the title of your piece for meaning, it will ultimately mean dollars in your pocket.  Here are some examples:

Onement, 1 (1948)by Barnett Newman
Image taken from
(As an aside, Barnett Newman proclaimed the above painting to be his "artistic breakthrough.")

Abraham (1949) by Barnett Newman
Image taken from

Bacchus by Cy Twombly
Image taken from

I decided to give it a go, and this is what I came up with.

Astghik (2010)
5.  Show Your Work
Once you have a repertoire of work, you'll be ready to show it off in a gallery.  This is essential in getting your work known.  If possible, ensure your canvases are HUGE.  (See Cy Twombly's Bacchus above).  There is an inverse correlation between the size of the canvas and the amount of time you have to spend painting.  Consider Bacchus, and then compare it with Albrecht Durer's A Young Hare, which is only 23cm x 25cm.


Try to find a venue in a large city, if at all possible.  If art galleries are unwilling to let a newcomer showcase their work, rent an old warehouse.  Now for the important bit.  Invite friends, family and acquaintances to your show, and pay them to come daily.  (This is assuming you still have the odd friend after becoming a recluse.)  Ensure they are dressed appropriately each day - preferably eclectic.  Scarves, dangly earrings and Birkenstocks should be encouraged regardless of gender. 

Your friends should now practice some key stances and phrases to be used around actual patrons visiting the show.  Sitting for extended periods of time with the hand supporting the chin is a good idea, as is clasping the hands together and pressing both index fingers against the lips.  If you have a beard, stroke it. 

Now, practice some key phrases which you can throw in at opportune moments.  Things like...
          *...divides and unites the composition...
          *....transformed my understanding of....
          *...intertwines myth and memory....
          *...confronts religious stereotypes....
          *...can almost hear the picture....
          *...tragically ironic....

See if you can apply any of those phrases to the following...

The Keeper of Sheep (1992) by Cy Twombly

And there you have it.  All the steps you need to become a rich and famous artist.  It's 8pm right now, and I'm going to end my post here, because I figure I can knock off about eight masterpieces before bedtime. 

I wish all you budding artists lots of luck!


  1. Tracey, I can’t thank you enough for these master classes. I can see that my job hunting days are over once and for all. Thank you again
    The enigmatic, masked blogger strikes again

  2. I'm so pleased. Do keep me up to date on your progress, and I would love to see some of your art one day :)

  3. Hi Tracey,
    This is superb advice and I'm taking notes. I can just imagine you going into a masterpiece frenzy.
    At this rate, your work will be proudly displayed in the 'Tate Modern Gallery', in London, England. Not to be confused with London, Ontario.
    At the Tate Modern you can win prizes for having dried elephant dung hanging on a wall. Ah the possibilities. I would like your autograph when you win.
    Have a great weekend in Winnipeg. Go Blue Bombers:-)
    With respect and kindness, Gary.

  4. The Blue Bombers have about as much chance of winning this weekend as I do displaying my art at the Tate....although dried elephant dung...that's a possibility I haven't yet considered.
    Have a great weekend too!