Productivity, Warhol-Style


In Napoleon Hill’s book The Law of Success, he explained that the people who are largely successful do not only have a definite chief aim in life, they go for it with action. They don’t procrastinate. They need to go out and build the business that they want to be a part of. What does this have to do with Andy Warhol?

Andy Warhol was interested in money. He was interested in success and fame. More to the point, he was an action taker, even in the early stages of his career, and he did what he needed to skyrocket his career, no matter what it took.

He rented out a studio and he called it “The Factory.”As you can imagine, he was prolific, perhaps fueled by the name that he gave his illustrious studio in the Lower West side of Manhattan. In the book The Andy Warhol Diaries, edited by Pat Hackett, Warhol reveals that he often had to pound the pavement and show his portfolio to anybody who would be willing to take a look at it.

Warhol-Style Productivity

In his diaries, there’s no evidence that he was ever caught off guard doing what he wanted to do. He never went down a path that didn’t lead him toward growing his career even more. He never got married. He knew what he wanted to do and who he wanted to be. And then he went for it. He was a lot of things, but he was never lost.

He was always doing creative and artistic work, interspersed with media appearances and public relations events. Ultimately, Warhol had worked out a way to make his love and passions serve him, financially. An artist’s dream. How did he achieve this? The answer is plainly written across the hundreds of pages of his diary.

Warhol always did his work.

He was a machine. He would often stay in the studio working until 7 or 8 at night before going out.

His prolifically would eventually form his brand.

Warhol-Style Branding

His appearance was very unique. He had white hair, his own way of walking, his own demean or, his own style of clothing. In fact, at some point, he even hired actors to pose as him to be at different events, for more exposure.

There are moments in the diary where he pauses to think about how unproductive he was with his work and where he thinks that all he did was to go to parties. In reality, he attended parties to increase his presence, his notoriety, and his social proof. To fuel the work that he always did. And yet…

He didn’t view himself as being productive and he didn’t view himself as being some kind of revolutionary artist who changes the way artists and the general public thinks. He thought of himself as someone who made ends meet and as someone who was doing the art that he wanted to do, while of course being in the right place at the right time.

Unspoken Success Laws for Artists to Emulate

Few books on entrepreneurship speak about this hidden factor of success, this sense of being in the right place at the right time. Stuart Wilde speaks about this in his book The Trick to Money is Having Some! as does Daniel Smith in his account of Leonardo Da Vinci’s career, Think Like Da Vinci.

Warhol’s Secret Sauce

Warhol always tried to find ways of propping up the value of his artwork by being seen by various reporters, public figures, entertainers, and photographers and paparazzi. Part of this effort also included efforts in creating as much work as humanly possible and diversifying his portfolio in different media in order to get his work out there.

He also knew that he wanted to attract wealthy clients—an effective strategy of his overall campaign. He was able to attract many people who could afford to pay him $25,000 per portrait and who could afford to have him travel to Europe so he could feature some of his artwork in a gallery, usually in France. He created his own demand and then supplied that demand himself, sometimes with the help of others, sometimes all on his own.

Warhol’s Legacy

Warhol left behind countless paintings-many of them co-produced with other artists. He made tons of film as well. He did photography too.

Warhol knew who he was. He knew his passions early on. He was, for all intents and purposes, like a machine, a factory. Not only did he create a factory of his work, but his productivity was unparalleled in relation to other artists who frequently got caught up in different issues of the day that often mired them and prevented them from moving forward-drugs, relationships, celebrity. It all worked against most people, but not Warhol. None of this stopped Warhol from achieving his legacy of being an artist of the era. Warhol never got in his own way, and, true to fashion of the great artists of history, was ultimately able to manufacture his own demand the world would remember for decades.

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