How to Break the Internet With Your Art

Try these at home.

Richard Prince, Portrait of NightCoreGirl, ink jet on canvas, 48X58, 2014 Photo: screenshot from richardprince4's Instagram
Anish Kapoor Ditry Corner (2011) Photo: The Guardian

Anish Kapoor, Ditry Corner (2011).
Photo: Courtesy of the Guardian.

In the digital age we live in, it can be hard to get your break in the arts. But harness the power of the internet and you can move forward by leaps and bounds.

Whether it be with nudity, theft, or simply by jumping on someone else’s cyber-bandwagon, emerging artists can make or break a career with a web based project. Taking some recent stories as cues, we’ve compiled some handy tips to help you break the Internet with your art.


Milo Moire stands with a viewer of her latest piece, Naked Selfie.Photo: Brian Boucher.

Milo Moire stands with a viewer of her latest piece, Naked Selfie.
Photo: Courtesy of Brian Boucher.

1. Get naked
Taking “Naked Selfie” artist Milo Moiré’s lead, you may want to flash some–or all–of your flesh in the course of your practice. This can really get a budding artist some traction. Lately, Moiré has been racking up the column inches with her bare bodied antics like it’s nobody’s business. Her unauthorized performances got her turned away from Art Basel 2014, shocked many at Art Cologne, and had her arrested in Paris.

“Through the immediate high level of intimacy, the subject behaves differently than when taking a regular selfie, because of my obvious presence, a new meta level of self-staging emerges,” Moiré says of her most famous project, which involves taking selfies with willing participants, completely in the buff. There are many tried and tested creative approaches you can take, but if you decide to adopt it—as did this Swiss Performance art festival—we advise you take the highly public and deadpan route.

A selection of shots from the shoot Photo: via Oyster Magazine

A selection of shots from the shoot. 
Photo: via the Mirror.

2. Totally weird people out
One of the most recent examples of an artwork (however wide you’re willing to stretch the definition) that launched an Internet frenzy was the collaboration between celebrity uber-couple Kim Kardashian and Kanye West and photographer Juergen Teller.

Brows around the world rapidly knitted, as they tried to make sense of the confusing shoot the trio published in System Magazine earlier this month. The photographs featured builders’ sand, farm equipment, and carry-on luggage. The sight of the usually slick and highly styled couple on piles of rocks and sand in a rough rural setting was so weird it was almost too much for the Internet to handle.

To our consternation, Kanye’s love for the art world is fast becoming less of an object of fascination and more of a real proposition with the imminent release of a collaboration with Steve McQueen.


Unknown vandals splattered yellow paint on Kapoor's Dirty Corner (2011) Photo: @ walkergarden via Instagram

Unknown vandals splattered yellow paint on Kapoor’s Dirty Corner (2011).
Photo: Courtesy of @walkergarden via Instagram.


3. Get vandalized
Another sure-fire way to get those much-needed clicks is to annoy the public to the extent that somebody takes the law of aesthetics into their own hands.

When Anish Kapoor opened his critically acclaimed show at the Palace of Versailles, he called his work, Dirty Corner (2011), “the vagina of the queen who took power.” This invoked trepidation from some quarters in France, as evidenced by the Tweet of one minister: “#Versailles Anish Kapoor skids on the green carpet.”

Shortly after the exhibition opened, the huge iron sculpture was daubed with paint, which caused a media furor.

To employ this strategy by design, it is essential to walk the fine line between friendly agitator and persona non grata. Although, it seems easy to offend at the palace of Versailles. Just ask Jeff Koons.



Richard Prince, Portrait of NightCoreGirl, ink jet on canvas, 48X58, 2014.
Photo: via richardprince4’s Instagram.

4. Steal someone else’s work and pass it off as your own
Yes, this is appropriation, a well-worn practice that is highly associated with Richard Prince, but most of the world doesn’t know what it is or that artists made this common practice decades ago, so it still manages to get people bizarrely enraged.

Prince has barely been out of the art news in the last couple of months and, for the most part, things have not been pretty. See Paddy Johnson skewer his Gagosian show this past October. Then in May, people got excited all over again when the website SuicideGirls printed out a version of one of Prince’s works (an Instagram selfie that he had appropriated from one of their images) and sold it for a mere $90. Websites were pointing out that Prince’s works, in contrast to theirs, were selling for nearly $100,000.

Whether or not the images have artistic merit has been the subject of much discussion, but Prince’s smash and grab approach in this project has given the artist lots of fresh publicity, even if most of it was highly negative.

Shia LaBeouf preparing to pass the baton during his "METAMARATHON" event/performance piece at Amsterdam's Stedeijk's Museum. Photo: EPA.

Shia LaBeouf preparing to pass the baton during his “METAMARATHON” event/performance piece at Amsterdam’s Stedeijk’s Museum.
Photo: Courtesy of EPA.

5. Align yourself with a celebrity who would like to be an artist
Don’t know Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner? Yes you do. They’re the artists who work with Shia LaBeouf.

The three art world provocateurs have gained themselves hits-a-plenty and much notoriety with projects like #METAMARATHON, #FOLLOWMYHEART, and #INTRODUCTIONS.

These projects have been well received by the art world and the world-wide-web. The #INTRODUCTIONS project was staged in conjunction with London’s St. Martins art college and gained over 20 million hits.

LaBeouf was already known for stuff of the traditional enfant terrible variety, but his conceptual art endeavors, although sadly putting him in harms way, have also given his post-Transformers identity, if not his credibility, a much-needed boost.

To make this work, you’ll have to move to Los Angeles or hang out in London’s “Theatreland” until you come across a creatively starved film star to team up with.



James Franco, New Film Still #58 (2013).
© 2014 Pace Gallery, All Rights Reserved. © the artist, Pace Gallery.

6. If you’re James Franco, you can just copy people
This is another way to gain attention in a big way. Take another artist’s idea and recreate it, stepping into the place of the other artist. The lovely James Franco, as intelligent and talented as he is as an actor, just can’t seem to digest that mimicry is not pastiche.

After deeply offending the art world by dressing up as Cindy Sherman and recreating some of her iconic images with himself in the photos, he then made us howl with laughter with his “Just Poo It” video (remaking a LaBeouf video), but for all the wrong reasons.

Check out more weird, wild, and wacky art, hot tips for promoting your artwork on Instagram, and rules for navigating the art world as a newbie.

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