John Waters gives young people advice on how to break into the contemporary art world


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You can’t have contempt about it and go in. You have to learn. You have to study a little. You have to figure it out… and suddenly this whole world opens up to you. You can see it in a completely different way.

I think this is legitimate advice but at the same time i don’t quite agree with it. Art circles are notoriously insular and intellectually masturbatory. Having to alter your art and who you are in order to fit in with the existing cliques is advice that rubs me the wrong way but i guess if someone wants to make a living as a working artist then that’s what you have to do. I personally would prefer to find a way not to play that game, thanks to the internet these days its more possible for people to find alternate ways to make a break.


Went to see the show over the weekend and it was delightfully weird. :slight_smile:


I’m about a five minute walk from the BMA, can’t wait to check it out! Did you also have the chance to see the paintings by Mark Bradford that they have up now – well, paintings and a few sculptural items. I saw it a couple weeks back and was blown away.


Just be an outsider artist. That way when you’re dead, people can pretend to have loved your work all along as it gets traded like frozen concentrated orange juice in the art market.


And a little jealous of your proximity!

Also had a chaser of the Visionary Arts Museum. Seemed appropriate.


I adore that place. :slight_smile:


Totes agree. Though in seriousness I follow quite a few successful small independent artists on various platforms, it’s definitely not necessary to try to “Break into the art world” to have a following and make a living. But if someone is seeking fame or recognition then yeah, go ahead and appeal to the art cliques. Not something i was ever interested in so i’m biased.


What a wonderful man.

And yeah, I have seen the lobster rape and the singing asshole… and the skid-mark.

It, all of it, is almost as wonderful as it’s creator.


have rich parents


From what I have seen of the art world it is absolutely fine, in fact it’s encouraged, to reject any and all fashion and convention. Art people love idiosyncracy, and even if you attack other artists, they (other than your direct targets) will probably just enjoy the melodrama.

What they do expect is for you to know what you are criticising. I think this is what John Waters means by saying you can’t come to it with contempt. A lot of people will walk around a gallery thinking “I like that one” or “that probably took a lot of skill to execute”, and assume their hot take is of equal value to what an experienced art-considerer has to say, since it’s all just subjective opinion. Which, OK, but you’re rejecting the whole premise of fine art, and the people in that world will take it as such.

Also: it’s not like the fine art world acts as a gatekeeper for decorative art, hobbyist watercolors, deviantart, or insta-filtered Kinko’s canvas prints of your grandchildren. It’s only when you spray some soda cans pink and demand to be considered on equal footing with Andy Warhol that people will expect you to back it up with something more than “this is what I like”.


I am endlessly amused that John used the sign from my old school for his art. You can’t write this shit. :smiley:


Very well put.
Art school, for me, was very much a gate keeper of that sort.
The continual question was: “What you’ve done here, why is it?”


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