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Money as Art


This is a story on how an artist thinks and does business. It’s not gonna be a funny story, but you might learn something from it. As for me it seems way to late…

I am the artist. And now I am going to tell you how 600.000 interested people visited my website while I was drinking beer, sinking my relationship and running around out wondering if I would ever be Rich, Famous and Loved.

I call it the Van Gogh-Syndrome, the ever occupied artist that wants to change the world and doesn’t make a penny on his (sometimes genius) work. He can’t sell a piece of his soul, all the emotions..how can he ever express it in cash…!??! We know many artists suffer from this disease. Thank God, the farmers, baker and butchers in the world don’t suffer from it. It would be quite a hustle having a baker emotionally attatched to his bread. And a butcher who wants to sign his steaks…

Anyway, in 2000 and 2001 I painted 16 One Dollar bills. Leaving the face of George Washington uncovered, I would paint him a small body and a miniature world around it. George would be standing in a mariuahana field saying: ‘I grow Hemp.!’. Which he acctually did. Or he would be riding a Pink Elephant saying:”Respect Yourself”. It was funny to see how the expressions of George would be different on supposedly totally equal prints. Sometimes he looked arrogant, sometimes sad and lonely.

The real adventure came when I started to play with Abraham Lincoln on the 5 dollar bill.! I saw a whole story of the 5 stages of reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln popping out of the bill… (read: “The Incredible Story of the Reincarnations of Abraham Lincoln” elsewhere on this blog)

My friend Jesse Limmen liked the Art Bills and created a simple website, no shop, no contact, just the artworks and my name. I had my first website, and sat on my ass. Someone put it on a blog…

It was when FHM called me in my studio that I started to have a feeling that there was something happening. Two weeks later Playboy called if they could do some small article and show some of my Art Bills…

As a real businessman I started to work on a webshop. Three months later it was finished. When I called the host of my old little website, he said: What do you mean ‘small’ website, you are our biggest site.!!

He grabbed the statistics: 600.000 individual visitors in 5 months..!!! He showed a peek of over 10.000 people a day some months ago, and than the steep way downwards…I opened my webshop and still sold 27 prints of my Art Bills…

It’s been pretty silent ever since….

( I mean, untill the director of the Exchanghibition Bank Mr. Dadara asked if I could tell the story of my failure so it could still be transformed into a succes story…)

6 thoughts on “Money as Art

  1. Thank you Kamiel. The care with which you handle your life is your greatest gift as I see it , same goes for Dadara. This cumpulsion to seek out something new in this world and see it for yourself, then To have to show it to the rest of the world- it can be dabilitating( been living out of my car for a year now to funnel all my rent money into the project).
    We are in a new age where knowledge is transforming from a limited pool of pay-per-fact students to a more self driven explorative exsistence. I have no delusions of making money doing this stuff. Certainly there will be times when popularity will increase cause it some how coincides with pop culture and more people visit the project/s. Dadara is a model to emulate. The sharing on such a global scale in so many mediums. Touching so deeply with all encompassing ideas.

    I have lost my train of thought ( I blame the tiny iPhone screen).

    Kamiel I would like to reccomend the movie Mr. Nobody(2009). No matter which path you take your life has just as mch meaning.

    I know my life is forever changed by you from the few meetings we have had (new mexico,bm,drive back,dinner at your house, staying in your glorious apartment- O I miss that apartment!)

    Hard to visualize how much of this world would be considered enough. I know I have a tendancy to always want more. You are loved by many individus in this world , myself being one of them. Knowing your struggle helps me to understand mine. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Of course art change into money if we worked hard for it.. and of course it provide opportunities for self-expression, bringing the inner world into the outer world of concrete reality…

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