How Not to Succeed in The Art World
Artists everywhere work hard to sabotage their careers, compromise their reputations, make sure they never get shows, ignore the advice of dealers or advisors or coaches or consultants or anyone else knowledgeable about how the business works, all in order to maintain art world statures of consummate anonymity. In the interest of helping to streamline the process of failure, and as a public service to all artists who cherish oblivion, I hereby offer the most expedient means of attaining and solidifying lifelong positions among the ranks of the unknown. So are you ready to go nowhere? Excellent. Here's all you have to do:
* Spontaneously introduce yourself to anyone you think has any standing in the art world and/or any ability-- real or perceived-- to buy, sell, broker, critique, review, advance, or otherwise represent you or your art. Make no attempt to explain why you're introducing yourself, how you know who they are, what the purpose of your introduction is, why you or your art is relevant to what they do, what you expect to accomplish by speaking with them, or what they can expect to accomplish by speaking with you.
* Pay no attention to how disinterested anyone might be in either learning about your art, hearing your life story, or continuing any type of conversation regardless of the content. Just keep talking.
* Whenever and wherever possible say the following: "Hi, I'm an artist. Would you like to see my art?" You can do this in person, by phone, by email, by mail, etc.
* Whenever and wherever possible, ask people to look at your art, and then once they're looking at it ask, "So what do you think?" You can do this in person, by phone, by email, by mail, etc.
* In case anyone expresses interest in seeing your art or visiting your studio, make sure you have fewer than twenty pieces of finished work. The less you have, the better.
* Even though you have less than twenty finished works of art, continually contact dealers and galleries everywhere and ask for solo shows.
* Whenever you finish a work of art, wait for at least two weeks before you start a new one. This technique not only keeps your oeuvre low, but also assures that you're continually out of practice.
* Even though you may be relatively early in your career, have had few or no gallery shows, or have not yet established a reputation where you live or make art, email random requests to dealers and galleries all over the world asking them to show, buy, broker, or represent your art.
* Even though you're not yet well known where you live or make art, present your art to the best galleries in your area, or better yet, to the best galleries in the world. Make sure these galleries exclusively represent nationally and internationally renowned artists.
* Buy mailing lists of art dealers, collectors, critics, curators, and galleries for hundreds of dollars. Then spend thousands of dollars printing up promotional materials and doing impersonal mass mailings to introduce yourself and your art.
* Pay to show your art at galleries that charge you to exhibit your work. The more expensive they are, the better. Not only does nobody take these galleries seriously, but you'll also sell nothing... and... you'll go broke faster.
* Pay to be included in so-called books, magazines, or directories of promising artists, international artists, whatever. Not only does nobody take these publiciations seriously, but combined with paying for shows, you'll go broke faster yet.
* When you're at an art opening for another artist, approach the gallery owner and tell them you're interested in having them either represent you or show your work.
* When you're at an art opening for another artist, ask the artist to put in a good word for you with the gallery owner.
* When you contact a dealer or gallery either in person or by mail or email, simply say you're an artist looking for representation. Make sure they have no idea why you're contacting them (other than that they're an art gallery and you're an artist). Also make sure you have no idea why you're contacting them (other than that they're an art gallery and you're an artist). Have no idea what kind of art they show, whether they sell the kind of art you make, whether your art is priced comparably to the art they sell, or whether your resume compares favorably with those of the artists they represent.
* Begin all mail or email correspondences to dealers or galleries with salutations like, "Dear Sir or Madam, " "Dear Gallery Director," or "To Whom it May Concern." That way, the recipients can be sure you either have no idea who they are, you don't care who they are, or you don't think it's necessary to know who they are.
* Send out random emails to galleries, dealers, etc. that contain only the URL of your website and nothing else.
* Send out random emails to galleries, dealers, etc. with nothing but 10 megabytes of images of your art and the text, "If interested, please email me," however to really do this one right, leave out the word "please."
* In your emails or contact with galleries, dealers, etc. ask, "What can you do for me?" Or say something like, "Let's work together" (translation-- you sell my art).
* When you present your art, make sure you have no coherent or unifying explanation for what you do, why you do it, or what your guiding principles are. Also make sure you're totally disorganized. Show everything you've ever made, no matter what it looks like, whether or not you think its any good, whether or not it relates to what you're making now-- and make sure it's not in any order. Make no attempt to point out any connections, similarities, or continuities between any examples of your work.
* Even though you're not that well known, spend thousands of dollars building a website. Ignore the fact that finding you, your art, or your website on the Internet will be almost impossible except for people who already know you. As soon as your website is finished and online, believe that sales will just roll in, and make no further attempts to show or sell your art anywhere in the physical world.
* Make sure you provide no contact information for yourself on your website, only one of those forms where you fill in fields and click a "submit" button. The less personal information you provide, the more reluctant people will be to contact you.
* Make sure your art is not priced on our website. And in case anyone is interested in buying anything, provide no instructions about how to do it.
* Think that all you have to do to get known is stay in the studio, create art, show that art to no one, and make little or no effort to meet anyone in the local art community. Instead, believe that someday you'll be discovered.
* Make sure you have no artist statement, no explanation for why your art looks like it does, what it represents, how it's evolved over time, or why you make the kind of art you make.
* Make sure you have no idea how to price your art. If someone asks you how much a piece of your art costs, tell them you don't know. Or you can ask them how much they think it's worth. If they suggest a dollar amount, stand there and say nothing.
* If your art is priced and for sale and someone asks you why a certain piece costs as much as it does, either tell them that's how much it's worth, that's how much you want for it, or that you don't know.
* Never ask for feedback about your art. If anyone gives you feedback, ignore it. This way, you'll have no idea what people think about your art, whether they understand it, whether they like it, whether it comes across as effectively as you think it does, or why anyone would want to show or own it.
* Complain about dealers, other artists, your lack of being recognized, ignorant collectors, and as many other aspects of the art world as possible.
* Whenever you have an appointment to show your art, make sure you're late. Better yet, cancel the appointment once or twice first; then make sure you're late.
* If you've got a deadline to have your art ready for a show, miss it. If you've got a deadline to have your statement, bio, or resume ready for a show, catalog, or website, miss it.
* Assume that everyone understands your art as well as you do. Assume also that understanding your art is the viewer's responsibility, not yours.
* Answer "no" to as many questions about your art as possible.
* Correct people's "misconceptions" about your art as often as possible.
* When someone asks a question about your art, instead of answering it, ask a question right back.
* If you get a show, contact other "better" galleries as soon as possible and tell them about your show, but then say you'd rather show with them.
* Make sure that dealers who currently represent or show your art are aware that you can hardly wait to blow them off and move on to someone better.
* While you're having a show or are currently represented by a gallery, sell art out of your studio or directly to buyers for less than the gallery is selling it for.
* When your gallery show is close to being over, email your mailing list and announce that as soon as the show is over, you're going to drop your prices and sell your art directly to any interested buyers.
* Make sure not to cultivate or respect any business relationships or agreements, especially ones that work.
* Believe that if one gallery or dealer can sell your art, that all galleries or dealers can sell it.
* Believe that your art sells itself, not the gallery or dealer who's selling it for you.
* Talk about attorneys, suing people, your legal rights as an artist, what happens if someone crosses you, that you don't want anyone reproducing images of your art, that you don't want anyone photographing your art, that you keep names on file of everyone who gets sent images of your art, and so on.
* Try to figure out as fast as possible whether the person you're talking to is worth talking to. If you decide they're not worth talking to, leave immediately.
* Ignore any suggestions anyone makes about any aspect of how you present yourself or your art.
* And last, but certainly not least, never do anything for anybody unless there's something in it for you.
There you go-- your first class ticket to pfffft. Good luck!!
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