Why do some artists spend their whole careers doing stupid stuff like mutilating mannequins or painting old bits of wood with baffling phrases? Why does everyone in the art world get paid, apart from the artists? Why do most students spend years doing their MA, closely followed by them doing sweet FA? Who are the HoWiAs, and what the hell do they think they’re doing? How and why did a bunch of paintings that looked like vandalised portraits of SpongeBob Squarepants get taken so seriously as an international art fair?
‘Career Suicide: Ten Years as a Free Range Artist’ was and indeed still is my book about the realities of working in the art world for most professional artists, the thousands of unfashionable, underpaid and little-known ones who have to do all manner of unfashionable, underpaid and little-known things to survive. You should buy it, it’s really great because I’m a really excellent writer and I’m much more interesting than most of the boring old tools who write books about art.
The book is quite popular, but it isn’t being made into a major motion picture. That was a lie. Unfortunately, almost everyone in the art world is either a barefaced liar, a deluded fantasist, a candidate for the psychiatric ward or some exotic but annoying combination of the aforementioned, so you may as well get used it.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win” is frequently but apocryphally attributed to Gandhi. I like it, regardless of its true origin. He definitely did say (in 1922, when accused by the British authorities in India of inciting disorder): “If one has no affection for a person or a system, one should feel free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection so long as he does not contemplate, promote, or incite violence.” Sometimes I can’t help suggesting that the best thing for an artist is not an expression of disaffection but instead a kick up the arse or a slap. I’m not Gandhi, evidently.
If you think of the book as a bomb dropped on my own profession, US army “friendly fire” style, then this blog is the street-to-street skirmishing that inevitably follows. I’ll be writing about the exhibitions and art projects I see in the course of my work and my travels. Whether I like them or not (I warn you now, it’s usually not) I’ll always be honest about them, which is one of the two great heresies one can commit in the art world. Honesty and having fun are strictly verboten by proper art people, which makes me all the more determined to indulge in both. Thanks to ArtSway Associates for supporting me in my ongoing, quixotic quest to prove that my vitriol is strong enough to etch its slow way through the art world’s stupidity.