“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art,” Andy Warhol famously said. “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”
I have always been fascinated not only by Andy Warhol, the artist, but Andy Warhol, the person. And now, Andy Warhol the business man as I have been reading about this side of him lately. His life was intriguing and I’m sure most of you would agree with me, at times, bizarre. But no matter what, he was a genius during his time. Ahead of his time in a lot of ways. His art…some of the most influential of our time. His work ethic, unmeasurable. And his knowledge and use of business skills in the art world, the top in our field.
So, what sets him apart from the rest of the pack of artists that have come and gone, some making their mark in success, others, not so much?
Well, Warhol first started out after moving to New York, as an illustrator, with clients such as Glamour Magazine, Tiffancy & Co., and Vogue. Pretty good start if you ask me. It was in the 50’s that he began to devote more time to painting and in the early 60’s, his first Pop paintings were birthed started a sensation and launching Warhol into the world known artist as we know him. His art was relevant at the time he made it and what amazes me is how largely relevant it is today, some 50 years after he began in this style.
Warhol was criticized often for pulling ideas from other people. Although I think this is a part of what made him a great artist and business person. We all have heard the saying before, “Nothing is new under the sun”, well it is true. Everything starts from something. It’s a spawn of another product, idea, the universe, something else that might have failed in the past, a person’s thoughts, and so on. We can either fight against this fact or we can embrace it and use it for our good and the good of others who will have the opportunity to buy into what we have to sell. And it’s not just a matter of taking other ideas and using them. That would just be too easy, wouldn’t it. It’s about identifying the good ideas from the bad or taking an idea that might not be so good and turning it into a good idea. Anyone can take an idea or a thought, but it’s a skilled person that can take that idea and turn it into a great product, process, technique, business plan and make it a success and something others will want.
There’s another thing about Warhol that is impressive to me as an artist entrepreneur. A lot of times, in fact I will even go as far as saying MOST of the time, when people find out I’m an artist, they ask me what type of art I do and they try to get me cornered into a small box with only one room in it. I don’t really know how to answer this question a lot of times because even though there are a few techniques that I am pulled towards by nothing but my own love and fascination, I do not limit myself to just that style or process. Warhol was extremely diverse. Not everyone loved his earlier drawings or his pop art or his darker subject matter of “death and disaster” paintings, or his ‘sketchy’ movies but if you take a look at this list, you can see he was all over the place in subject, processes, and concepts. If you don’t like one, chances are you will probably like, or at least appreciate another. I think one of the keys to success is to educate ourselves in other processes and techniques and to diversify in all of the above. Not that we have to be all over the place like a crazed lunatic running from one end of the room to another, but having our hands in a few different places can only help us to be in higher demand and more marketable. People will still be able to identify our work, see our signature markings or our autograph at the bottom of the piece and we will reach a larger audience.
Just some things to think about.