Your Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Famous Artist

In 10 easy steps, even you could be the next Jeff Koons!

From left: Jeff Koons, Jasper Johns, Ed Ruscha, and Christopher Wool. Courtesy of Getty Images.

1. Be like these guys.
As some of the most expensive artists at auction, it would be wise to take a cue from Jeff Koons, Jasper Johns, Ed Ruscha, and Christopher Wool. Instead of being a Dead White Male Artist (which also helps), you can stay in the realm of the living!

Shia LaBeouf

Shia LaBeouf in full flow. Courtesy of Central St. Martins.

2. Already be famous.
It works even better if people are already familiar with your face, as evidenced here, here, here, here, and here. (James Franco, Shia LaBeouf, Adrien Brody, Miley Cyrus, and Kanye West, we’re looking at you.)

Damien Hirst's sculpture 'Charity' opposite the Gherkin building on July 16, 2015 in London, England. Courtesy of Rob Stothard/Getty Images.

Damien Hirst’s sculpture Charity opposite the Gherkin building on July 16, 2015 in London, England. Courtesy of Rob Stothard/Getty Images.

3. Be rich to begin with.
It’s the next best qualifying inroad to art world fame and (greater) fortune. For a critical view on this subject, see Ben Davis’s essay: “Do You Have to Be Rich to Make It as an Artist?

Artist Jeff Koons attends the Jeff Koons x Google launch on May 09, 2016 in New York, New York. Photo courtesy of Ben Gabbe/Getty Images.

Artist Jeff Koons attends the Jeff Koons x Google launch on May 09, 2016 in New York, New York. Courtesy of Ben Gabbe/Getty Images.

4. Hire dozens of assistants to make your work.
Just don’t axe them in bulk like Jeff Koons recently did. Sometimes bad publicity kills the brand.

Yayoi Kusama, <em>Infinity Mirrored Room- Filled With the Brilliance of Life</em>. Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirrored Room- Filled With the Brilliance of Life. Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

5. Make sure it’s Instagram-friendly.
Because, why else would anybody go to your show?

From left: Jerry Saltz, Larry Gagosian, and Jans Hoffman. Courtesy of Getty and YouTube.

From left: Jerry Saltz, Larry Gagosian, and Jans Hoffman. Courtesy of Getty and YouTube.

6. Secure the holy trinity.
Critics, collectors, and curators, like the ones pictured above, are key to your success. Collect them all!

Carmen Herrera at work on a painting. Photo by Jason Schmidt. Courtesy of Lisson Gallery, London.

Carmen Herrera at work on a painting. Photo by Jason Schmidt. Courtesy of Lisson Gallery, London.

7. If you’re a woman, be of a certain age.
May this New York Times feature enlighten you on the “very small sampling of the female artists now in their 70s, 80s and 90s we should have known about decades ago.”

Guerrilla Girls, "Do Women have to be Naked to Get into the Met. Museum?" (1989). Courtesy of glasstire.com.

Guerrilla Girls, “Do Women have to be Naked to Get into the Met. Museum?” (1989). Courtesy of glasstire.com.

8. Otherwise, be naked.
The artist collective known as the Guerrilla Girls has been stressing this point for the past three decades. Haven’t you been listening?

Ai Weiwei Photo: Ai Weiwei on Instagram

Ai Weiwei. Courtesy of Ai Weiwei on Instagram.

9. Antagonize the government.
As Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei recently conceded to the secret police: “Without the power that you represent I would never have become what I am today.”

Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait (1887)Photo via: Wikipedia

Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait (1887). Courtesy of Wikipedia.

10. Die.
May we forever worship Vincent, Frida, and other patron saints of the celebrated Expensive Dead Artist cohort.

*This is a satirical post. 


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