'Envy will eat you alive...': Jerry Saltz’s 10 Timeless Tips for Art Students
September 11, 2017
A man white bright blond hair and black framed glasses gazing at the camera
Photo of Jerry Saltz.

Last year, New York magazine senior art critic Jerry Saltz delivered a highly insightful and entertaining lecture to a packed room in the MFA Fine Arts department at SVA. With the new school year just getting underway, we thought it would be a good time to re-share some of the timeless bits of wisdom he offered during that lively discussion.

1) Pleasure is an important form of knowledge.

2) Envy will eat you alive; cynicism will eat your work alive.

3) Cynicism simply thinks it knows the truth. It is Republican in character. It believes in certainty; the art world believes in paradox.

4) You have to have doubts. It’s okay if you look at a Rembrandt and go, “It’s kinda brown.”

5) Art critics cannot make or break an artist. Believe me I have tried.

6) You need to be vampires who live in the city with your fellow artists. And stay up all night together.

7) Be in contact with artists all the time. If you don’t, your work will die because you will wake up one day and think you know it all.

8) You need one dealer, one critic, two curators, and three-to-five collectors to be a successful artist. Can you get 10 to 15 people to like your work? You don’t need to be part of a big system.

9) Everyone is sincere. Even Jeff Koons. He’s kinda weird and speaks like a Teletubby but even he’s capable of creating the flower Puppy that made me so incredibly happy. It was like The Beatles.

10) Demons will speak to you till you start working. Then you have newer demons. Work with them. Work. Just work. Or don’t and…

Related post: ‘Be a freedom machine’: Jerry Saltz Offers 5 More Tips for Art Students