This fall thousands of boys and girls began art school in hopes of someday attaining Art Stardom. Other young men and women journey to New York’s Chelsea art districts, navigating sweaty seas of hipsters at crowded openings. Still others debase themselves by schmoozing gallerists, the gatekeepers to the secret order of Art Stars.
In the end, some fail. Many go broke. Most go mad.
But, young artists, don’t despair. I’ve created a handy program for attaining Art Stardom -- no student loans, art bins or social skills needed! Just read on and follow the steps closely.
1. Eliminate hobbies.
Everything an Art Star does should be done with obsessive / compulsive zeal. As an Art Star, you should have one goal in life -- to produce art, art, art! Anything that interferes with this goal should be eliminated from your existence.
To take an example from my own life, it wasn’t enough for me to simply collect trolls. Instead, I opened a Troll Museum. I was still able to engage in the gratifying act of collecting trolls while also finagling my way onto the evening news, thus exposing those who lead normal lives to the Art Star way of life, and with any luck beaming a ray of hope to disaffected youths everywhere.
If you’re thinking of collecting Legos, go for it, but make sure you do something obsessive with those Legos. Why not build a giant Lego fort and attempt to live in it for a week?
This brings me to the second rule of Art Stardom:
2. Carry through on even the craziest ideas.
You might be sitting at a bar with a friend, discussing Teletubbies, and you might say, "Wouldn’t it be fun to dress as a drunken teletubby and visit various toy stores throughout the city?"
A true Art Star wouldn’t just talk the teletubby talk, they’d waddle the teletubby waddle, and the next day they’d go out and make that costume. Or they would have it made, it doesn’t matter -- they’d make this idea a reality. Art Stars live in the land of show me. Their favorite state is Missouri, the "Show Me" state. Their favorite cable channel is. . . Showtime.
3. Avoid self-improvement.
Unless you plan on learning an obscure language like Elvish (the language of elves), avoid self-improvement. Self-improvement is for people with time on their hands and Art Stars have no time on their hands. An Art Star should have no spiritual life and no sense of who they are. Who Art Stars are and what they believe is something other people called critics ponder after they are dead.
4. Practice dating as "performance art" (or what I like to call extreme dating).
Nothing will sap an Art Star’s art-making energy faster than a serious human relationship. Date only as a form of performance art. Date people who fascinate you, not people who appear to be boyfriend or girlfriend material. You can save a lot of money by dating a crazy person because you don’t even have to go out (Craigslist is a terrific resource in this regard). Just listening to the delusions of your date should be inspiration enough.
5. Be fashionably early.
If you are invited to a party that offers an open bar and the party is scheduled to start at 8 pm -- get there at 7:59. There is no sense in pretending that you are there for the party when all you care about is the free liquor and food. Straight-shooters get respect, even if later in the night they can’t walk all that straight.
If you are an Art Star in recovery, plant yourself near the kitchen so that you can snag the yummy ham-and-cheese on toothpick skewers and crab cakes in green sauce as soon as they come out, sparing other partygoers these fatty snacks. It’s part of your duty as an Art Star.
6. Only take jobs that offer no room for advancement or personal growth.
The last thing you want is to get roped into a job that will prohibit you from staying out until four in the morning five nights a week (pursuing your muse, of course). This is why I recommend taking the crappiest job you can find.
Note: Try to find a crappy job where you have access to a photocopy machine ("copier"), the Internet ("world wide web") and a fax machine ("faxer"). These items are essential to furthering an art career. With a copy machine, one can make flyers, posters, books, limited editions of up to 1,000, etc. With a fax machine and the Internet, one can send out press releases in a fun and modern way.
Do accept raises. Don’t accept promotions. A promotion means more work. No Art Star wants more work.
7. Get a strange-looking pet and name it after yourself.
Art Stardom is all about name recognition. And this way, when you die, you leave behind a tiny four-legged Art Star who will carry on your name, if nothing else. Don’t bother having kids, as they will only turn out to be computer programmers in order to infuriate their Art Star parents (also definitely do not have kids if you are following the "dating as performance art" rule [see 4, above]). A pet cannot rebel against you.
It’s important to get a strange-looking pet so that you can incorporate it into your art in photographs, films and comic books. Being an Art Star is sort of like being a superhero only without the super powers -- and all superheroes need a sidekick.
8. Take your hair seriously.
It’s fine if you want to wear elf ears, platform shoes, wacky hats or underwear over your outerwear -- but don’t joke around with your hair. You still want to get laid.
9. Develop a signature "style."
A good rule of thumb is to take your favorite clothes and put them on all at once. If it’s too hot, rotate (if it is too cold, you are screwed). When choosing a style, be careful with anything permanent like plastic surgery or facial tattoos. At least until you graduate from art school.
10. Learn to deal with rejection.
Rejection is really no big deal. It’s simply the whimsical act of a misguided person deeming everything you’ve poured your heart, soul and mind into worthless, totally worthless. Accept that they must be a bad person for not liking your work and move on.
11. Make art.
This is really important. I would do this myself, but I am too busy trying to help others.
12. Write filthy gossip about yourself in local bar bathrooms.
This bit of advice might not seem that crucial -- but once you scrawl your first bit of filthy self-aggrandizement on a bathroom wall, you will be amazed at the far-reaching consequences for your career. There are hundred of bars out there and that means hundreds of free press quotes all pertaining to your remarkable skill as a lover.
13. Have fun.
This is more of an overall guideline than a rule. In fact, if you’re having fun, you probably don’t need this list. If you’re not having fun, ask yourself, "What do I really want to do?" And then do it like the Art Star you are. Being an Art Star means figuring out exactly what you want to do and then doing it even if it is absurd, illogical or really ugly.
In simpler terms, "To thine own self be true." Shakespeare totally nailed it. And look where it got him. Retired at 46.
REVEREND JEN is an art star, urban elf, troll museum founder and up-and-coming celebrity personality. She is the author of Reverend Jen’s Really Cool Neighborhood and Sex Symbol for the Insane.