Introduction: How to Make Art.

About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author of t…

Art-making is one of the easiest and most lucrative of human activities.

A finished work of art can be exchanged for many desirable things such as food, shelter, sex, fame and money (which in turn could be used to purchase food, shelter, sex and fame).

So, it is understandable that you might want to know how to make art.

In the steps that follow I will share the wealth of my knowledge.

Randy Sarafan is full of credentials. He is a virtual Fellow with the FAT (Free Art and Technology) Lab and was a Resident Artist in the R&D OpenLab at Eyebeam. His works have been in museums and galleries. For a number of years he has been the proud owner of an $80,000 art school education.

Step 1: Justify Your Existence.

Before you can make art, you have to understand what art is.

A breif history:

Western art has a rich history, arguably dating back to ancient Greece. Of course, since visual artists historically have toiled with their hands, Greeks viewed painters and sculptors as we would today view cabinet makers; skilled laborers. In an attempt to get laid more, eat better and party with the Popes, artists in the renaissance reinterpreted the role of visual artists in antiquity to elevate their position in society. From here, western visual art was kind of like a snowball rolling down a hill of loosely packed snow. In short, it started an avalanch of rationalism that eventually landed upon abstract expressionism (think of a canvas painted white with a slash in it). Three hours later, when we finally dug Jackson Pollock out from under ten feet of packed snow, he was somehow still alive, but very pale and slightly braindead. We now called him Andy Warhol. He, along with a number of other avalanch survivors, created postmodern art. This lead Marshal McLuhan to proclaim:

"Art is anything that you can get away with."

This will be our working definition of art.

I can attempt to justify this definition by going on and on about death of the grand narrative or by poorly paraphrasing "The Practice of Everyday Life," but I'm not going to.

Remember, our goal is not to justify our definition of art itself, but to justify our creative (or non-creative) efforts as art. This is easy to do because "Art is anything you can get away with."

Step 2: Getting Away With It.

How do I get away with it?

This is the easiest part! If more people understood this, we would all be artists!

To get away with it, all you need to do is:

1) Tell people it's art with a straight face. Never let on otherwise.

2) Determine some sort of theoretical basis and/or historical context for the creation of your work. If anyone ever question's the integrity of your work, quickly refer to its theoretical basis (no matter how silly or ill-informed it may be).

3) Context! Context! Context! Remember, a shovel in a museum is priceless. A shovel in your garage is a shovel... unless...

4) You tell people that the shovel in your garage is a priceless work art and act accordingly. It's important to always be self-righteous and hold your ground.

5) (optional) It always helps to make something utterly useless outside of its own creation. If your art starts having some sort of social use-value or benefit, then people will have trouble believing its art and not something more practical, such as, for instance, a shovel.

Step 3: Chicken or the Egg.

Once you understand the principle of artistic creation, the next step would be to actually make art.

There are two ways to approach this:

1) The more modern (and still very popular way) is to start with a medium (i.e. painting) and then to create something along an ideological theme.

2) The more post-modern approach (and my usual method of creation) is to start with a an ideological basis and then select the best medium for illustrating that point.

For instance:

Artist 1) I am a female artist who always works with charcoal. I decide to respond to the purity of the female form by creating a drawing of a naked woman.

Artist 2) I am a female artist looking to respond to the purity of the female form. At first I consider making a charcoal drawing of a naked woman, then I explore the possibility of sculpting a placenta out of macaroni noodles and, finally, I decide the best course of action is to make a plaster replica of my right breast.

Arguments could be made for each approach, but I would venture to say, that in my opinion, approach 2 is better since it is easier to justify. Approach 1 has some very real conceptual weak spots which could be exploited by careful historical analysis.

Step 4: Now Make Something.

Once you have determined what artistic medium you intend to use and what the artwork is to be about, you are finally left to do the grunt work; producing the actual artwork.

For instance, with Tazer Tag I wanted to illustrate that people would forego their own personal safety to inflict pain upon others. To do this I created a tele-tactile game of submission and fun. In short, I made a game in which player can give each other varying electric shocks dependent on proximity to one another.

When I was done I put it in a gallery to prove that it is art.

Step 5: Self-promotion-a-go-go

After having created a work of art, it's then important to tell everyone you know (and many people that you don't know) just how great and historically significant it is.

Inform all of your friends of the creation of your new work.

Inform all of your enemies too.

Submit it for inclusion in gallery shows and exhibitions.

Create a buzz about it on the internet by submitting it for consideration on a number of influential blogs.

Contact the press!

Talk about it ceaselessly at every chance you get.

Step 6: Reap the Benefits.

If you have done everything right, you will be eating well, sleeping indoors and having lots of sex with people who not only respect you for your genius and talent, but also respect you for your incredible wealth and fame.

You are now an artist. Keep making art.

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