I Am A Monster And You Should Be Too
Oh my god. I love money. I love it more than I ever have. And since moving to New York City, I now have fantasies of crushing everyone else around me while wearing a tuxedo. I sincerely despise romanticism, and the nostalgia of the 1950’s art world. And chances are, if you so-much-as reference socio-political ideologies through relational aesthetics, I will laugh in your face and re-calibrate my evening towards making yours as terrible as possible.
Let’s be clear; before you consider writing me letters asking for artist grants, I don’t have anything to give you. At present time, my financial position allows me to eat, announce forbearance on student loans, and occasionally pay rent. I typically network through e-mail or meet with potential clients or partners approximately 60 hours per week. In my spare time, I freelance as a film and television producer, corporate videographer, and sometimes, sometimes, on weekdays after 8pm and on weekends, after I do laundry, buy groceries, call my mother, finish editing projects with intense deadlines, write a dozen cover letters, hold three to ten conference calls, and repeatedly and compulsively check my e-mail for responses to project bids, do I get to make what anyone can sincerely refer to as art.
Oh, does this sound troubling to you? You probably believe that the true artist is liberated from the economic institution. You probably believe that the artist is a poet and sees vibrant shades of mauve in the most mundane of places. You probably believe that the artist works from outside the intuition, and that the process of placing proverbial paint on the proverbial canvas is a beautiful thing. You probably believe in art collectives, and daydream of forming groups of similar minded individuals to create the next great art movement. And if this is true, you are probably a casualty of the biggest institutionally funded hoax of them all.
Who is this institution, and why are they playing jokes on you? And what is the joke?
Does this sound familiar? If so, the institution is you, and you are playing jokes on both yourself and your peers. And the joke is the irony of conformism and cliché brought to us through artists. You should be clawing and scheming your way to the top via the same level of clarity that you apply to your art… because you can locate the emotional or thematic center of your work and clearly express it, right?
If you are an artist, you should be operating with complete agency. You should have absolute control. Your main goal should be to gain as much power as possible, packing away both allegorical and literal authority. Or are you too good to meddle in power dynamics? Do you, like, just want to put that proverbial paint on the proverbial canvas? Allow me to repeat myself: If so, you are a conformist, and worse, you are the institution. Quit art. Or become a wedding videographer, permanent entry-level designer, or photographer’s assistant and emphatically insist that you are still an artist. Maybe paint a nice portrait of a cucumber and hang it on a café wall in Williamsburg. Because, you know, Impressionism is still totally relevant.
If you listened to a single god-damn thing the post-modernists said, you believe in a fracturing of ideologies, and dissolve in grand narratives, and an insistence on agency. With this logic, no group, no neo-whatever wave or movement is going to save you. You are on your own. And if you live in New York as I do, you are going to fight to get funding and make your work. It’s brutal and there is nothing poetic about it. So, take control. Obtain power. Be an artist.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: You started by talking about money. What does that have to do with art?
A: I started talking about money because money is inherently useful. And if you have a lot of it, you will have power. Any one that tells you otherwise is trying to take that away from you.
Q: But I’m a nice guy and I don’t want to become a monster. Can’t I still be an artist?
A: Sure. I forgot to mention that you could also move to Portland, become a vegan and start listening to Damian Marley. Portland loves nice guys.
Q: I’m an artist and am moving from the Midwest to NYC. Do you have any advice for me?
A: Invest in a new wardrobe.
Q: No one understands me. What should I do?
A: Probably everyone understands you. They just hate what you do.
Q: You riffed on wedding videographers, graphic designers, and photographer assistants. I’m a wedding videographer. Are you willing to say that to my face?
A: Sure, but I’m pretty busy these days. Can you come to Park Slope? If not, I’m available on Skype. In the meantime, why don’t you talk to my gaffer and see if you can hold a conversation with him?
Q: My art is about occupying public spaces and building something beautiful in an unused- and unsightly-urban environment. Is this original?
A: Sure. Although Neanderthals also doodled on cave walls. But yours is going to be so much more interesting, right?
Q: There isn’t enough space in my apartment in Queens to paint. What should I do?
A: If you live in Queens, there’s definitely enough space in your apartment and you’re probably paying $250 less than I am per month in rent. But to answer your question, start making videos. And when you realize that if you get good enough you can start making money, become a videographer. And when you become a videographer, start buying lighting kits, audio equipment, OTS cameras, 75lb sticks, and an editing system. Then come back to me and say, “There isn’t enough space in my apartment in Prospect Park to store all of my gear, edit, and shoot a four-person talking heads interview via a three-cam setup (W, CU, 2:2) on a 10×20 backdrop with a 1K (Full CTS) behind a 4×4 215 frame as the key and pizza boxes on duckbills for each fill, with 2x 4-bank Kinos as a the back fill. What should I do?”
You might be thinking this:
Art is about connecting with people; it’s the artist’s duty to create something beautiful.
Or maybe this:
I’m a painter. You can talk all day about the ebb and flow of art dialogue, but when it comes to Art; it’s just me and my brushes.
And probably this:
All of my art comes from an intuitive space, and I act on my impulses. My art is about discovery and knowing what I express as I express it ruins the magic.