NIKKI! You should totally get your red hair back! :) I like it when it's blond, but you see, I have to live vicariously through you... because I'm too scared to dye my own hair red. So that means: You have to dye your hair red again! :) :) :)
Emily, I know your love for red hair….you should do it too! Maybe just some highlights or underneath??? Yeah? When I go home we should dye our hair :)
Be a loser. The world of art and design doesn’t have to be an Olympics where a few win and everyone else is forgotten. Even though the art market and celebrity culture is set up to support the idea of hyper-competition and to make everyone but the stars feel like failures, there’s also a world out there of artistic cooperation and collaboration that’s not about raging egos. That’s the one we joined, and the one you can join, too. Get beyond the outdated assumption that only a handful of you will “make it.” Don’t all waste your time running after the same few carrots. Be impatient. Don’t wait for a stamp of approval from the system. Don’t wait around to be asked to dance. Claim your place. Put on your own shows, create your own companies, develop your own projects. To steal a phrase from the Dali Lama, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” In other words, Be the artworld you want to take part in. Be crazy. Political art that just points to something and says “this is bad” is like preaching to the choir. Try to change people’s minds about issues. Do it in an outrageous, unforgettable way. A lot of people in the art and film world didn’t believe things were as bad as we said they were and we brought them around….with facts, humor and a little fake fur. Here’s a trick we learned: If you can get someone who disagrees with you to you to laugh at an issue, you have a hook into their brain. Once inside you have a better chance of changing their minds. Be anonymous. You’d be surprised what comes out of your mouth when you’re wearing a gorilla mask. We started wearing them to protect our careers, but soon realized it was one of the secrets of our success. Anonymous free speech is protected by the First Amendment. So join that long line of anonymous masked avengers, like Robin Hood, Batman, and of course, Wonder Woman. Be an outsider. Maybe having a secret identity isn’t for you. But even if you end up working inside the system, act like an outsider. Look for the understory, the subtext, the overlooked, and the downright unfair, then expose it. We’ve empowered lots of people inside museums, universities and film studios to jam their culture and dis their institutions. Lead a double life. Be a split personality. Be two, three, four, five artists in one body, like me. I’m an artist / activist / writer / graphic designer. Be a hybrid. Hybrids are so green. Just do one thing. If it works, do another. If it doesn’t, try it another way. Over time, we promise you it will all add up to something effective and great. Don’t be paralyzed because you can’t do it all right away. Just keep on chipping away. Don’t make only FINE art. Make some cheap art that can be owned by everyone, like books and movies can. Sell out. If people start paying attention to you, don’t waste time wondering if you’ve lost your edge. Take your critique right inside the galleries and institutions to a larger audience. When our work appears at venerable venues like the Venice Biennale, the Tate Modern, or The National Gallery in DC, we get hundreds of letters from people saying they were blown away by our analysis of art and culture. Give collectors, curators, and museum directors tough love: (Bear with me, this is a long rant.) It’s a pity that public art museums have to compete with billionaire art investors to own significant artworks. And then depend on those investors to donate the works! It’s outrageous that art by women and artists of color sold at auction bring 10-20% of the price of art by white males. It’s unethical that wealthy art collectors who put lots of money in the art market can then become museum trustees, overseeing museums that in turn validate their investments. What a lousy way to write and preserve our history! If things continue like they’re going, a hundred years from now, many museums will be showing only the white male version of art history, with a few tokens thrown in. You need to keep that from happening. Make sure that museums cast a wider net and collect the real story of our culture. How can you deliver tough love to the art world? Demand ethical standards inside museums. No more insider trading. No more conflicts of interest! No more cookie cutter collections of Art That Costs The Most (Eli Broad, do you hear us?) While you’re at it, give some tough love to design and architecture, where women and people of color face a crushing glass ceiling. And finally, educators out there, don’t teach a history constructed by corrupt institutions. Write your own! Complain, complain, complain. But be creative about it. Sure we’ve done 45 feet high banners and billboards all over the world. But here’s some simpler things we’ve done: Put anti-film industry stickers in movie theatre bathrooms, insert fliers with facts about art world discrimination into books in museum stores, send anonymous postcards to museum directors. Want more ideas? How about attaching political hangtags to items in clothing stores, putting up street art or billboards across from your office, slapping stickers on fashion magazine covers. You can probably think up a million better ideas than we can. Use the F word. Be a feminist. For decades the majority of art school graduates have been women. Your class is no exception. But after school, when you find a too-small number of women and people of color in your field, especially at the top, then you know there’s got to be discrimination, conscious or unconscious, going on. Don’t just put up with it, say something. We think its ridiculous that so many people who believe in the tenets of feminism have been brainwashed by negative stereotypes in the media and society and refuse to call themselves feminists. And guys, that means you, too. Time to man up, whether you’re female, male, trans, etc. and speak up for women. Women’s rights, civil rights, and gay, lesbian and trans rights are the great human rights movements of our time. There’s still a long way to go.
And last, but not least, be a great ape. In 1917, Franz Kafka wrote a short story titled A Report to An Academy, in which an ape spoke about what it was like to be taken into captivity by a bunch of educated, intellectual types. The published story ends with the ape tamed and broken by the stultified academics. But in an earlier draft, Kafka tells a different story. The ape ends his report by instructing other apes NOT to allow themselves to be tamed. He says instead: “break the bars of your cages, bite a hole through them, squeeze through an opening…and ask yourself where do YOU want to go?” Make that YOUR ending, not the tamed and broken one. Oh…And don’t forget to have some serious fun along the way!!!