Most university students spend their academic careers elbow-deep in couch cushions, digging for bus fare and maxing out that “emergency” credit card their parents pay off for them. But, for the modern Fine Arts student, being broke now is just a warm-up to being broke forever. Indeed, the average fine arts student pays up to $10,000 a year to obtain a mostly-pointless BFA. This roughly equates to buying a car and driving it off a cliff, again and again, every single year. Upon graduation, these listless souls then discover that “Art” isn’t exactly a “growth industry” and that reality apparently doesn’t need anymore self-styled “artists” trying to represent it better than it can already represent itself.
However, that being said, I’m not here to bust on Fine Arts students. Indeed, it is the artist’s sensitivities that are uniquely attuned to the opaque truths and dangers that permeate us. But since society generally doesn’t care, artists are going to have to play by its rules to make a dime. With that in mind, here’s three things you derelict artists can do right now to start lining the pockets of your tight jeans with free money.
As a burgeoning artist you probably spend more time imagining what it would be like to fly swans across Rousseau landscapes than to giving serious consideration to things like “accruing capital” or “diversifying your investment portfolio.” Perhaps economics just seems so huge that you don’t even bother. However, in reality, economics is just like anything else in life — a giant video game — and you just need to know the right cheat codes to beat the game. Perhaps the greatest “cheat code” of the economics game, the up, up, down, down, left, right, B, A, select, start” if you will, is a little lark called “insurance fraud.” To pull this off you just need a crooked art appraiser, which is actually pretty easy to find since most are basically boozy vagrants who can be bought off for homemade potato hooch. Get one to appraise your work at some completely insane value, and then insure it for that. Then, when nobody’s looking, light all your art on fire, and get paid. Some people will tell you this little bit of antic foolery will make you an “insurance fraud.” Whatever. More like “insurance god.”
You’re a “real artist,” so your common sense probably starts tingling any time the words “sell” and “out” hang together in close proximity. Nowadays, however, these words have been replaced by the decidedly more ambiguous “graphic” and “design.” And while “graphic design” might have a vague air of appeal, it’s really the artistic equivalent of a tepid summer breeze. Sure, you will be well-compensated for churning out product within tight corporate frameworks. But your true legacy will be in the countless years spent getting mad at InDesign and making other assholes a lot of money. Pretty boring, but I guess you can always cling to the hope that you’ll get one of those biographers that just makes stuff up.
Did you hear about that mediocre Brett Whitley original that just sold at auction for $1.1 million? How about the abstract expressionist scrawl by Vasudeo Gaitonde that just bagged over half of that? The only real advantage these artworks have over yours is that they are by artists who are way more dead than you. Indeed, anyone who self-identifies as an “artist” knows that they will likely be unappreciated in their own time. And, while we would never advocate going out of your way to die, it is a surefire way of getting cash for your art, even if you’ll never actually see it yourself.
One problem: dying is kind of hard to do. Unless you hang out around explosions, the odds of being traumatically killed are about once in every 1,700 years. However, if you do somehow happen to get yourself into a situation where death is nigh, try to go out via “latent hypoxia.” This is a totally first-class death in which you hyperventilate yourself, and then drown, causing your oxygen-starved lungs to literally suck the blood out of your melting brain. Apparently, this massive blood rush actually feels pretty cool. Ah, imagine riding out the last moments of your brutal and meager existence on a huge death-wave of euphoria, all the way into the dollar-sign sunset of artistic glory.