(Thanks to guest blogger, Marlo Spieth from Avvo.com, for this blog post!)
Salvador Dalí was an artist unsatisfied to be famous posthumously. Breaking with tradition, it was his priority to be recognized and compensated for his work during his lifetime.
How did Dalí achieve financial success?
It has been said that Dalí was revolutionary in the sense that he was both an artist and a businessman. History remembers him as an eccentric but, in fact, his peculiarities were the result of a fierce commitment to his brand. In 1924, Andre Breton defined surrealism as “the actual functioning of thought…. in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern” (Surrealist Manifesto, 1924)
To this end, Dalí was on a mission to shock. His quirks— a pet anteater, giving presentations in a scuba suit, etc.– transformed him from mere artist into the literal human embodiment of Surrealism, “the absence of reason, aesthetic, or moral concern”. To this day, the Surrealist movement is synonymous with his name.
Ironically, Breton and the other Surrealists kicked Dalí out of their group in 1934, dubbing him Avida Dollars. The nickname is a phonetic French phrase that mimics “He wants money”. While they found Dalí insincere, it was he who got the last laugh. Dalí is easily the most famous of the group. Indeed, history sees no differentiation between genuineness and lack thereof, only which was more fervent.
Although Dalí was an undeniable talent, his success and legend is in great thanks to his business acumen. For the modern artist, this is why it’s critical to concern yourself with your legal coverage, business affairs, and branding ASAP. It can be difficult and costly to backtrack later on.
How is legal critical in financial success?
Well, one good reason is that, without proper foresight, your personal finances are always at stake. For example, without incorporation, the courts may demand your inheritance from Aunt Sally to settle a totally unrelated business lawsuit. Therefore, as an artist, it’s always a good idea to declare yourself a single-member LLC. This prudence will come to the rescue unexpectedly—like if a client decides to sue.
Furthermore, the modern artist must do the job of an entire corporation: product, marketing, finances, and general council. As such, it’s critical to swallow hard and face the unpleasant administrative duties that will ultimately protect you. Understandably, the jargon can be a little overwhelming, especially in legalese (ugh). To make it digestible, we at Avvo have written a digestible article on the nuances of making art your profession.
Voilà: The Artist’s Guide to Starting a Business… For your viewing pleasure!
Know of other tips to be a business-savvy artist? Feel free to leave in the comments below!
Marlo Spieth is a casual writer and professional relationship builder. She currently does outreach for Avvo, a legal website that connects citizens and lawyers. We make legal faster and easier.