July 23, 2010

How to be a Famous Artist

Last year I spent some time reading Wikipedia biographies of several famous artists and musicians. Quickly I noticed a disturbing but distinct pattern beginning to emerge. Here is the wisdom I gleaned from the lives of these famous celebrities:

How to be a Famous Artist*
*not to be taken seriously

  1. Make a movie/book/poem/painting/song.
  2. Make sure that this art draws on your history of childhood abuse and trauma. 
  3. Your art should offend at least one group of people (preferably older people.)
  4. Have at least one type of mental illness.
  5. One word: drugs.
  6. Another word: alcohol.
  7. Get married at least three times. One of the marriages must be an alopement, preferably to the best friend of one of your exes.
  8. Make sure that there are rumors circulating about your alleged homosexual affairs. This will get you into college textbooks and posthumous documentaries.
  9. Have a unique and easily recognizable “look,” so that young hipsters will emblazon images of your face on their t-shirts long after you’re gone.
  10. Most importantly: die young and tragically. Suicide is highly fame-inducing, especially if it’s by some ironic fashion and at the age of 27. Also acceptable: accidental drug overdose, tuberculosis and assassination.
  11. Have someone start conspiracy theories after your death.

Sit back and enjoy your fame!

Note that this list is not a guarantee of fame and adoration. For example, Elvis fullfilled several of the requirements, such as offending older people, having a "look," battling substance abuse, dying young and tragically, and conspiracy theories about his death are widely known. Although famous, today he is considered an icon of kitsch instead of cool, and hipsters do not wear his face on their t-shirts. I call this "the Elvis Paradox."

Which of the above do you intend to put into action today?* Do you have any additions to the list, or any theories as to why Elvis is not considered hip?

*please don't


  1. Who is that to the right of Joplin?

  2. They say we play with the line of the craziness when we're artists because we're so in touch with the bigger picture, the connectedness, the spiritual side of the world. While I hope that's true, I honestly believe you don't need to fulfill this list to be a 'successful' and 'fulfilled' artist.

  3. I agree with you, MME. The list was satirical.

  4. Add to the list: Have no sense of humor, and Take yourself way tooo seriously.

    Spellcheck: elopement

  5. Woah, I had better get to work!!

  6. Hahaha, that's awesome. It's true though - all the amazing artists out there have had some big problem at one point in their lives.

    clothed much, a modest fashion blog

  7. I wonder if the real demon here is the oppportunity for self-indulgence that comes with fame and fortune. Let's say Jim Morrison had gotten married, had kids, and worked a regular job. Maybe his dark side would've been kept in check rather than indulged. Were Beethoven, Michaelangelo, Da Vinci, Mozart, and all those other guys were similarly maladjusted?

  8. hahahahaha.. what an unsual discovery you have here XD XD

  9. Good point Appendage, otherwise normal people can be warped by fame, wealth, power, etc.

  10. Hahaha pretty funny.
    Don't forget that choking on your own vomit is up there, although it may fall under the 'drug' catergory.
    Elvis = anyone could like his music, therefore not cool. It's gotta be reeeeal non-conformist.


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