Sunday, February 27, 2011

The most fascinating kind of art

Tupperware Party: domestic fans gather to
socialize and consume (circa 1950s).

In The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (1975), Warhol writes: "Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. During the hippie era people put down the idea of business-they'd Money is bad," and "working is bad," but making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art."  Having started out as a commercial artist designing store windows and ending up operating Andy Warhol Enterprises publishing magazines and cranking out portrait commissions holding this view makes sense. As Warhol wrote, calling an artist a $ELL OUT was the greatest of insults decades ago. Warhol predicted if not forged the way for the current possibility of "artist as entrepreneur" which has captured the mainstream media imagination with a spate of articles. The Economist wrote in its February 17, 2011 issue, "If businesspeople should take art more seriously, artists too should take business more seriously. Commerce is a central part of the human experience. More prosaically, it is what billions of people do all day." 

Warhol, Koons, and Hirst demonstrated that both fame and wealth could be achieved while an artist was still alive to benefit. The starving artist became stereotype than lapsed into "boho" lifestyle. Indeed the Internet has created new opportunities for young artists to make and sell artwork. Like a Tupperware party, young artists can develop networks of fans and friends, an inner circle of supporters willing to buy their wares. In 2007, Jen Bekman created 20x200 offering a "large selection of high-quality artwork starting at only $20." She welcomes novice consumers with only $20 to spend and hopes to turn them into art fans by offering editions of prints by an array of both the famous and the up and coming. Kate Bingaman-Bert started drawing then selling her drawings of her credit card statements to help get herself out of debt. Then she began drawing everything she bought and posting the drawings online as a project. The ongoing project evolved into her Tumblr blog Obsessive Consumption/The Office of Kate Bingaman Burt and a book. Even Minneapolis photographer Alec Soth, who has been embraced by the chic Chelsea art world has found a creative outlet in the realm of selling cheap items online to "fans." He recently established Little Brown Mushroom Books to publish and sell posters, zines, t-shirts, hats and books ranging in price from $7 to $950. Artists can craft an online artist profile using FaceBook then blog about their artistic process and projects for free on BlogSpot and selling hand made items on Etsy. It is free and easy but it takes a degree of persistence, resilience, adaptability and vision to stand out in the increasingly crowded online world of artists self-promoting and business becomes an art in itself as Andy said.