Make Art Make Money

So if you don’t know me let me fill you in on what I do in my spare time.  I read about 5 books a month.  One of the easiest ways to do that is to listen to books on tape.  I get all of my books on tape through audible.  It’s a good way to catch up on your reading while your getting paper work done or doing housework.

Anyway the book that I read this month was a book about Jim Henson called “Make Money Make Art.”  It’s kind of an esoteric title so let me explain this process.  Since most artists go scarcely unknown throughout their career, i.e. Vincent Van Gogh, Vivien Meier etc.  Artists are more or less kept in the dark from the public eye.  The artists that DO find a way to turn a profit on their art may actually defeat their art by letting the powers of commercialism overtake it and run with it to the extreme.  Jim Henson found a way to make his art while still retaining the highest artistic.

Being poor and making art is just a part of the process. Some people get stuck in it and never get out.  However eventually for those artists with a sense of entrepreneurship they can get their artworks to make money.  It goes in this formula:

Make art- Here you make art simply for arts sake.  You cannot turn a profit on it however you are just focusing on the quality of the art itself.  Making it fantastic, so good in fact that eventually nobody can afford to ignore you.

Make art make money:  Here your art begins to make money.  You may be forced to religated yourself to doing commercial work like Jim Henson did.  However eventually he used the money he made from commercials to fund his other ventures which brings us to the next and final part.

Make money make art: Most of Hensons’ productions were refined to a very fine quality.  He often put

In this book you learn entrepreneurship and how to manage a collective of artists while still getting the best work out of them.  I totally dug on this book and I think it is a great resource to artists.  Jim Henson was a total hippie.

makeartmakemoney_jimhenson 2

What Art Is

So I just finished reading this book by Arthur C. Danto.


The painter Paul DeLaroche decreed that “Painting is dead!”  And it well should be in the advent of photography.  Since art, as Plato and Aristotle determined, was only meant to mimic nature nothing comes closer to depicting visual reality as photography.

Since art only mimics nature it is never truly as powerful as the reality itself.   But that is good.  Art helps us to make a distinction. Art definitely should not be reality right?  Because once art becomes reality it no longer becomes art and we thereby no longer are able to distinguish the two, thus it loses itself in its redundancy.   Now you are probably going to refer to Andy Warhols Brillo boxes. Andy’s Brillo boxes are pretty much identical to any Brillo boxes you find in a department store.  So what makes Andy’s Brillo boxes art?  Instead of answering this question with epistemology we would have to ask ontological questions.  What is the meaning of Andy’s boxes?  So now that we deal into the realm of conceptual art has art all but lost its dance with the aesthetics? As Danto Says, The point of the work is to subtract the perceptual differences between art and reality.  The only things which conceptually change then are not the visible similarities but the invisible differences. We infer meaning, or grasp meaning but meaning is not at all material.  

I’m afraid so and so does Arthur C. Danto.  Art is this sort of open concept it is subject to so many forces like:
 Market: Capitalist economy plays a role in what art becomes popular.

Museum/Academic:  An ouvre meets a certain set of standards therefore it can be considered art.

This is known as Institutional art theory. Something becomes are simply because we say it is art.

In this book Danto questions the aesthetics which, for so long, hounded the arts.  Aesthetics was a direct outgrowth of ethics which was an outgrowth of logic.  However in the early 20th century art began to separate from aesthetics with Duchamps Urinal.  Duchamp showed us that something can be art and not beautiful.

Fountain 1917, replica 1964 Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968 Purchased with assistance from the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1999

Fountain 1917, replica 1964 Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968 Purchased with assistance from the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1999

It’s a good read for anyone interested in conceptual art and the futile attempts to discovery what makes art “art.”

My notes on this book:

Realist artists would be insignificant nowadays with the advent of the camera:
  representation discoveries: Perspective, Chiaroscuro (the study of light and shadow), physiogmy (The study of achieving naturalistic representations)
Ontology- the study of what it means to be something
Suprematist- art focused on geometric shapes
Hans Hoffman says to pollock : abstraction comes from nature pollock replies “I am nature”
Robert Motherwell coined the term doodling under Freudians psychic automatism for painting
Warhol- the transfiguration of the commonplace
Wittgenstein- having a definition does not make us wiser.
Paul delaroche- “painting is dead.”
“Abstract and Representational” -clement Greenberg
Hegel two kinds of spirit objective and absolute

Using Language in Art

Language itself appears in two forms: the spoken form and the written form.  To utilize words in an art piece actually helps to accentuate  central ideas.  Artists employ a variety of linguistic tools in their repertoire.  Some artists use semiotics which tests the visual representation against the thing which is meant to be signified.

Semiotics: the study of symbols and their meanings.

Words are powerful tools for the visual artist.  Using words can articulate complex ideas and embody abstractions to supply cognitive content to the viewer.  Sometimes artists even use words to decode the structure of language itself.

Blah, Blah, Blah, painting by Mel Bochner

The words or “signs” denote a meaning which is not explicit. Although words mean something different to someone who understands the language the artist uses words in a totally alien context almost rendering them foreign.

Take for instance this art piece by Jean Michel Basquiat.  He writes a word down and then he crosses it out.  This could be said to give the word even more importance for its intentional omission. Their omission gives them new meaning and importance in the context of the image.  titian 2

When you put words in an art piece you can articulate complex ideas and embody abstractions that may lie dormant.  This is because the words themselves supply the cognitive context which causes the viewer to pay attention for longer.


Determining Excellence in a Piece of Art

I have always loved the arts.  Since the day that I could hold a crayon I was obsessed. To this day I love looking at art, there is no question about that.  Even if its bad art I want to see it. I have this driving desire to absorb as much art into my brain as possible. In my 30 years on this planet I’ve seen ALOT of art.  So when I am schmoozing about the art museum there are a couple of factors that I take into account when determining excellence in art.

Uniqueness: Now this term is thrown around a lot in art circles.  I feel someone who says a piece is “unique” can be giving a rather shoddy, off handed critique or compliment.  It’s often too likely to be tacked with implications of kitsch or naiveté.  Let me rephrase it in a more suitable term; a more sufficient tone for what I look for in “uniqueness” in art is how much does an art piece altar the course of history? 
One example of this is Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon).”  Though it was initially met with adversity by the public (which is not wholly uncommon to revolutionary art)  it was the turning point for what would further be considered cubism.  By abandoning three point perspective for a flat two-dimensional depiction Picasso radically changed the course of art history.


Initial Impact: When I approach a piece of art I am reading it, just like when I am beginning a piece of  literature.  I am looking for a certain immediate affect that it has on me. A good piece of art is just like a good book. It sucks you in.  Take for example the beginning of the timeless classic “A Tale of Two Cities:”

 It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

There is something memorable about that quote. It is succinct, yet at the same time it is suggestive. And just as the beginning of a good book draws you in so should a strong piece of art.

I ask myself:  “Why do I respond to this art piece like this?”  

Emotional & Intellectual Resonance:  The artist Marcel Duchamp defined the artist as: Someone able to rethink the world and remake meaning through language rather than someone who produces hand crafted visual objects for ‘retinal’ pleasure.  

Duchamps’ art focused more on the conceptual ideas related to a work rather than traditionally held aesthetic assumptions that arts philosophical focus was “beauty.” Instead the avant garde movements challenged traditional notions and brought a new kind of intellectual art. It didn’t just have to be beautiful but it could be riveting and provocative.  It proves its own worth.


Some general principles:

Often we may be lead to believe that we are supposed to like a certain piece of work.  We are, after all, very influenced by society and its expectations.  I like to ask myself: Can this art stand on its own beyond our own western assumptions of  what art is supposed to be?  If a remote tribe found this piece would they still value it for its inherent quality as art?  Just be aware that sometimes we like a piece of art or not because someone else told us we should.

There are plenty of very famous artists out there.  Just because they are famous does not mean that they are great.

Project of a Cynic or Diogenyes: An Art Installation


I am going to call this art piece “The Project of a Cynic.”

This installation is a block of solid white marble which stands, roughly, ten feet tall. It is a slim and rectangular piece of stone. At it’s base is a Rottweiler which is tethered to a chain.  This dog will be trained to attack anyone who chooses to venture too close to the parameter.  It will give off the effect that the dog is actually protecting the solid white marble block itself. In this way the only way which spectators would be able to view this installation would be by standing away from the art piece itself, at a safe distance (as not to be mauled by the attack dog).  Or if they do wish to approach the stone they will be attacked by the dog.

This vision of a placid, bewildering obelisk jutting up from the ground is meant to suggest an incomprehensible purity.  The marble shall be polished so that it off of its face it reflects the sun, the spectators and appears to glow and sparkle in the daylight.  I want it to have this deep theological omni-benevolent presence to it.  It is meant to stand for the self.  That incomprehensible being that we strongly associate with.

Tethered to this beautiful fascinating stone will be a blood thirsty dog.  By bringing these two dimensions together they compliment each other in a metaphor of cynicism.  How we have to vehemently protect the integrity of this inner being we’ve polished to be an ideal for the world.  An ideal we expect all other things to live up to at which we will protect at any cost necessary. The dog represents the lengths at which people will go to protect their ego.

Of course there will be a trainer on site and the dogs will be switched out ever hour or two to comply with any animal rights laws.

An Art Contest Commemorating the Armenian Genocide


In Los Angeles there is a contest called The Centennial Art Contest which was put out by Council Member Paul Krekorian to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.  Submissions are being accepted up to the date of February 15.  I suggest all Armenians submit a piece of art.  The winner will have her/his art on display on local buses for a whole month.

This contest is important to me because I strongly believe that it gives Armenians a chance to engage and share their own culture.  For one we get to recognize and reflect on our history while at the same time building and creating elements of our culture through artistic medium. It is opportunities like this that help us to keep our identity alive and shape ourselves ethnically as a people.

For my art piece I used a digital painting program called Corel Painter. This allowed me to be incredibly versatile in the way that I worked my image.  It allowed me to make the mistakes I needed to make while still retaining a buffer by which to have time to adjust in order to refine the piece down to minute details.

The painting is called “A Memory of the Armenian Genocide for the Next Generation.”  This piece is meant to reflect on the resilience of the Armenians as a people to endure great hardships. Through specific imagery I show how the Armenian culture has survived and grown stronger through adversity.

Two central elements which I drew from were the colors of the Armenian flag and the stylistic imitation of the highly skilled artistry of Armenian rugs. These symbols are meant to provide a sense of historicity behind the art piece.  For one Armenian rugs have been a staple of Armenian art for generations and the national flag of Armenia is a symbol of solidarity of a people.

“WE ARE ALIVE!”  The art piece proclaims.  It makes it’s bold statement from the crimson red sheets of Armenian lettering which make up the center of the image as well as the English translation below. Here the very presence of this art piece is evidence that the Armenian culture is very much alive and thriving.  This art piece is meant to be bold and announces its presence to the City of Los Angeles where so many Armenians sought refuge after immigrating from their lost homelands.

I am very fortunate to be considered as an applicant of this generous contest.  I feel that I am making my contribution to my community and an addition to the Armenian culture in general.  I hope that I can help to inspire many more Armenian artists to keep our culture alive.

Freaks of Nature Presents: The Sword of Damocles

The freedom of potentiality is a looming dagger of anxiety
Contingent space separates me from the thin thread of becomming
The I am is not what it is soon to become
The flux of temporality surges me toward unforeseen fate
separated by the thin thread of possibility
What content holds a being I am not yet
This state to the next is sustained by the teathers of causality
This anguish of lamenting freedom of possibility hurls me blindly toward an immanent future unforeseen
A future with no conent
A voidness at my face which cannot be pierced
I am not what I will be
I am not what I was
Freedom demands I reinvent myself a new
In the contingent liberty death of existence becomes a real woe
The sword of damocles sways upon its tether
The prior dies and the subsequent is born
And having been is a with past I am
Sustaining its parasitic existence on the lonely island of my psyche
dead to all but itself
Who other than the subject can add value to its existence
The present exigence must die in past in order to be a found
Existence is constantly dying before my eyes
This is the melody of my humanity
The responsibility of life should be left to those
Who can let alone the itch
Of contingency
Stare down the spike of the sword
As it stares down at them
Life is a great fortune and great peril
For who would bare such fardels?
And to give this presence meaning
falls on me
Condemned to be free
My feet kick against the current
Hoping to hit upon land
It reaches out to something outside itself
Falls on nothing
We swim the ocean of nothingness until we drown
There the sword of anguish balances upon its string
Vanity of vanities

How I Turned A Bloody Paycheck Stub into Art

   This series was called “Bureau” because there were very specific conditions which needed to be in place during its creation. 

  These conditions were:

  • That each piece be assembled during business hours at an ordinary job
  •  Second that each object be created entirely from items found in a typical office

    I decided to pursue this series because, like most Americans in the middle class, I found myself in a cycle of conventional wage employment unable to escape in order to actualize my own life.  My identity was consistently being haunted by the specter of corporate management due to the fact that my actions were daily under their external control.   For eight hours a day I observed the object of my body  as an appendage of the corporation. Everything that I produced was the private ownership of the other.  I had for once experienced a form of soft slavery.  This alienation from the product of my labor caused me to realize that in order to actualize I had to re-establish a new identity the subject of which could not be this corporate entity. That is how I began this body of work. 

   I am including a few pieces which are actual invoices from the company I work at.  I shredded them and reassembled them.  This is an index of rebirth. It is meant to be the shedding off of the corporate image.  It is, instead, employee as the subject and not the object.  Another piece which I have included is the joining together of my own blood onto a real paycheck stub.  This exposure of my personal information is shared together with the exposure of the veins from my body.  Blood alone turns the wheels of history and this is shown through not only the exposure of the contents of my veins but the contents of my personal information.   The paycheck stub is also a symbol of  an event or experience.  Since the paycheck is only an object to represent metaphysical sequence of memories the personal blood that splatters on the face of the paper is the coming together of that material world and the metaphysical dimensions of memory.   

   These images are important because they not only reflect a deep personal history but because they are also a part of the history of the American working class.

Fracture 1 Put Through a Paper Shredder Fracture 2 Put Through a Paper Shredder Fracture hand 1 Master Master:Slave Dialectic The Nest

Letters From the Cubicle Farm

The best days of our lives are being stolen from us. The pay that they give us will not even be a slight recompense to what they take.

The only thing more precious than gold is time.
hint: we never will get it back

Don’t ever dilute yourself into thinking that wage slavey (modern day employment) is some kind of business venture. You don’t make a profit off of your grind. Wage is a simple exchange, it is fixed and predetermined between you and your employer. Don’t ever forget it. Your pay day is just a per diem to ensure your return. Like the slave masters who give their slaves room and board. That’s all a wage is. Pittance. Don’t die so you can come back tomorrow.

Employer/Employee Dialectics: While the employee wants to do the least amount of work for the most pay the employer wants to get the most amount of work for the least pay.

We’ve been forsaken. To believe in the system that funnels us into passionless mundane jobs. The capitalist system needs complacent employees, that’s what schools were invented for, to train the next batch of rejects.

Good art can’t be made from the cubicle farm.  You have to escape, you have to deprogram yourself and learn to be creative again.  The system doesn’t want creativity, because creativity is a product of imagination.  Imagination is the enemy of the system, it demands subordination, it demands that it’s edicts be followed.

Why don’t people know they are slaves?

I think that Hollywood helps to perpetuate the false life.  For once in the history of humanity a class of people exists purely to facilitate ideology.  With all of their excessive glamour and ostensible lifestyles the entertainment industry has become the virtual life of so many middle class people.  We spend our lives obsessing over the pointless lives of these stars. Watching them religiously, vicariously living their lives and virtually interacting with them through our televisions and computers.

What would a world be like without hollywood or the entertainment industry?  
How would we spend our free time?  

Entertainment has become the new opiate of the masses.  It helps us to cope with the fact that we are, in essence…slaves.

On Finding Your Artistic Voice and Making an Impact on the World

“Talent is when you have something to say but genius is when you have something interesting say.”

The Elements of Artistic Style

Art is your medium of expression. It is the platform by which you communicate with the world. In a world where everybody is a winner it is really hard to tell if your work is ingenius or if your just being placated by your peers.  You may have plenty of talent but talent is the result of years of labor intense building upon your craft.  On top of that you may have focused too hard on the technical aspects of your work making your study far too systemic for exploration.  Style is essential to having an impact on the world.


Be Recognizable:   

Artistic style is like a thumbprint, it is particular to the artist who created it. Your art will have to embody your personal character.

If you get to know the work of Dali or Picasso you begin to see an overall consistency within the body of work. If I see a painting  with long flowing penmanship, a dynamic attention to detail, a precise layering of paint, like an old masters work, along with strange phantasmagorical imagery, I know that I am looking at an art piece by Salvador Dali.

There should be a distinctness to you work that viewers can only trace back to you.

Study the Styles of Others:

The study of Art can be omnivorous! Keep a database of all your favorite artists.  That includes: musicians, painters, sculptors, philosophers, entrepreneurs or anyone that inspires you.  Most likely the way that they inspire you, in some way,contributes to your own personality.  If you follow the element of artistic style your personality will be woven into the fabric of your art piece and so will  all those who you emulate.

Broaden your Horizons:

In order to make your art a lasting and meaningful experience you yourself have to have lasting and meaningful experiences.  Artists take people out of their reality.  If you have vibrant experiences or dreams then your art will be vibrant too and people are drawn to vibrancy and beauty.

Draw Outside the Lines:  

Don’t focus solely on technique. In order to create you have to play around.  Have tons of fun.  Treat your work like play.  When you reach a level of mastery those dynamic elements will be toys for your amusement.   Now you can draw from your vast experiences and put things together like an erector set or legos.


To explore the realm of the human experience I like to study Philosophy.  For me I want my art to be deep and thought provoking and nothing is more so than the study of philosophy.

 note:  You can draw from whatever you want whether it be entertainment or your own history.  You don’t necessarily have to study philosophy in order to have an amazing message in your artwork.  

When we think of philosophy most people think of conniving old men in togas engaged in discourse about ascertaining the absolute truth.  Philsopophy is actually quite modest.  It is the most efficient modelling of human reality that we have.  Philosophy for ages has been obsessed with trying to interpret the human experience and draws upon a wide array of knowledge like:

1. metaphysics: the study of abstract dimensions.

2. Logic: Rationality and reason.

3. Aesthetics: Beauty and Art.

4. Ethics: Questions of morality and how men should interact with others.

5. Epistemology: Study of the empirical world.

I feel philosophy helps me to make my art deeper and more thought provoking.  Regardless of what study you find interesting in your studies the message you are trying to convey should come out seamlessly in your artwork.  Art is a way for us to see things through the subject of another.  It takes us out of our solipsism and helps us to engage reality in a whole new way.

COOL Beans