Attention Artists: Don't Throw Anything Away. Ever.
January 29, 2014 7:46 PM   Subscribe

As with other human beings, the chances of an artist becoming deceased increase with age. In the unlikely event of your demise, have you thought about what would happen to your art? has thought about this unlikely event in Artist Tips: Checklist for Planning Your Art Estate.

No matter what you unearth or what condition it's in, don't throw anything away. To repeat: Don't throw anything away. Even if you can't believe you ever made or wrote it, think it's meaningless, stupid, bad, incompetent, has nothing to do with who or where you are now, reminds you of unpleasant events in your past, or is irrelevant for any other reason, don't throw anything away.
posted by Bella Donna (14 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Oh god, I've already got two closets full of half completed art projects. I guess I better hope to have heirs who can at least make something of themselves instead of managing my estate.
posted by klangklangston at 9:01 PM on January 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't stress out too much guys; in all likelihood, nobody will remember you after you're gone. :)
posted by jeisme at 11:41 PM on January 29, 2014

I think I'm going to be sick
posted by donblood at 12:04 AM on January 30, 2014

What, you're not working hoarding into your work? So 2010s.
posted by rhizome at 12:12 AM on January 30, 2014

Just develop your work using public repository sites like github, society might start ignoring and forgetting any works not collaboratively developed shortly anyways.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:13 AM on January 30, 2014

What if it's really bad?
posted by louche mustachio at 4:23 AM on January 30, 2014


I mean, what should I really expect from a website called ''?

The reverse is actually true: throw everything away. Throw. It. All. Away. If it's good, you'll remake it better. For instance, I think the original manuscript for Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keilor was originally left in a taxi cab, so he had to re-write it.
posted by The River Ivel at 5:16 AM on January 30, 2014

A poorly controlled estate is never good for an artist's reputation, so develop a long-term presentation strategy and make sure your heirs follow it.

By haunting them from beyond the grave, I assume.
posted by pie ninja at 5:32 AM on January 30, 2014

in art school we were advised by a professor to regularly weed our work and NOT keep anything around we thought was subpar because it would not do our legacy/estate any good at all. I think his advice was good. The other comments in the article about organizing and so forth aren't bad but I have also seen market arguments against dating works because there are times people won't want it if it's not one's most current work. An archivist's nightmare right there!
posted by leslies at 6:44 AM on January 30, 2014

I plan on destroying everything. My heirs will need to make their own heartbreaking works of staggering genius.
posted by ckape at 9:54 AM on January 30, 2014

As someone who recently had to deal with a (poor) artist's passing -- this makes way to many presumptions about the quality of the art and how much others time is worth in relation to it. If you aren't planning to have any money when you die, don't bother -- just get rid of it now -- throw most of it out and give the rest away ASAP -- most insolvent estates are walked away from -- for good reason.

If you haven't sold it or no one wants it, it's probably not worth anything by definition. If you have substantial funds to back it up, then maybe you have an option -- but like the article says -- plan for a third party who is used to dealing with it. Even that is no guarantee your art will not just be recycled by another artist at maximum, taken to the dump at minimum. You are not that special.

It is the worst feeling in the world to have to find a place for someone's life work when it has no where to go -- even if you aren't literally trashing it -- and no, labeling everything does not solve the problem. The problem is funding of the estate and the quality of the art.
posted by smidgen at 10:38 AM on January 30, 2014

That said, at least the article recommends discussing (vs. just telling) others about your plans. As with most estate planning, that is going to vastly improve the lives of the people who have to clean up after you.
posted by smidgen at 10:44 AM on January 30, 2014

I mean, what should I really expect from a website called ''?

Despite the poor choice of name and almost offensive logotype, the site has probably the best documentation of the contemporary bay area art scene available online. The guy who runs the site, Alan Bamberger, shows up at lots of openings, takes pictures, does some (usually minimal) commentary. If you go to openings in SF, you'll definitely see him sooner or later.
posted by beerbajay at 1:49 AM on January 31, 2014

« Older Keep it short and descriptive   |   Cats Taking Selfies Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments