Sunday, 16 October 2011

How to bag an art boy

It’s been a big week for the London art scene. Frieze Art Fair was on, as well as at least five satellite art fairs, plus loads of galleries hosting events of their own to tie in with all the arty goings on. There were a lot of people about…and a lot of men in particular.

Having failed to secure some eligible prospects at the nerdfest that was Tweetcamp last week, I thought I’d turn my attention to arty boys. These wouldn’t necessarily have to be artists, but anyone who worked in the art industry. And I felt my odds were good, as in the past I’ve dated more artists than nerds (as well as one artist nerd just to keep things interesting).

I was chatting with Dscreet about this last Wednesday, and asked him what he thought I could do to improve my chances. He said: “Make sure you dress slutty, art dudes love that…mix business with pleasure, it’s a sure fire combination.” I then spent the following day reflecting on his advice, and was unsure whether I should throw my hands up in despair, or if this was simply his warped perspective, and the answer should have been "try striking up a conversation about Nietzsche's influence on contemporary artists" or something a tad more erudite like that.

So I decided to put my question to the floor. I emailed about 40 arty people I know and also put the question to my Twitter followers, asking what their top tip would be for me personally to bag an art boy. The responses were varied, and more than one concurred that slutty dressing was the way forward. I didn’t get to put that clothing tip to the test as walking around an art fair for five hours is best done in flat shoes, but perhaps I’ll give it a shot in the not so distant future. And one artist offered to take me out. So who knows? Maybe I’ll get to wear those stilettos sooner than I think…

Here are their responses in the order they were received. Feel free to add your own advice in the comments section below.

Inkie (artist): “Show an interest in his work and a knowledge of other artists. Plus being creative would help. Slutty dressing is a bonus ;-)”

Samantha Haynes (artist): “I'd say the harder you try the less they'll be interested – surely the 'boy' bit comes before the art every time. I do slightly fear that there might be something in the slutty approach. Maybe more sadomasochist than slut – stronger aesthetic potential ...”

Stephen Davids (artist): “Bag a man not some dumb ass boy :O)”

Oliver Goodrich (photographer & filmmaker): “I think you need to be more specific – are you looking for an artist, or just someone involved/working in Art/The Arts? If it's an artist you are looking for – do you want a trophy artboy (rich, successful, handsome etc.) or a genuine artist (poor, struggling, inspired, inspiring, charismatic etc.), or are you ambitious/naive enough to hope to find the elusive Artist Prince (rich, successful, handsome, inspired, inspiring, charismatic)?”

Adil Dara Kim (graphic designer): “Be yourself!”

Pure Evil (artist): “Make really cool art... art boys love an arty girl”

Anne Lander (graphic designer): “Start wearing flannel? Talk about the transient nature of all things?”

Paul Slee (artist): “Not so sure about dressing slutty, maybe that’s just easy solutions, most artists have, I’d guess, rich imaginations, so let them do all the imagining and fantasising. Dress sober, neutral, plain but tasteful, as if you could be anything (create more options and widen your horizon), and possibly even could be connected to a huge scoop of wealthy art loving relations, (but remember most artists are prob more interested in themselves than in you).
Pretend to be a white canvas, ready to be painted on, mention as little about yourself as possible, act evasive on all direct, historical, questions, but show your interest in the opinions and mutterings of the artist in question. So good luck, and remember not all art boys are worth bagging, some you might rather trash on the spot and leave for stray garbage.”

Andy Edwards (filmmaker): “Art boys are looking for a muse. That involves being interesting (i.e. crazy) and yeah, being slutty. I think you may well be too interested in personal hygiene for the typical art boys, if I were you I'd go for the art dealers/collectors/curators. An ability to talk crap about art and look good whilst quaffing free champagne is all that's required here and I think that's where you'll shine.”

Ben Street (Sluice Art Fair Founder): “All art boys worth their salt are to be found at Sluice.”

Remi Rough (artist): “1. Assuming you've set your sights on one 'Art boy' in particular: Purchase a piece from said 'Art boy'. Nothing major, a small work on paper or a print. Feign interest in his process and methodology and speak with as highbrow and art tongue as you possibly can. This is a big turn on for 'Art boys' in general. Always turn up extremely late to any shows, he is part of or in and try and gauge what colour he wears most. Then coordinate your shoes to colour match his clothing (I realise this is quite a difficult task). But if you're in!
2. Assuming any 'Art boy is adequate and none are a particular target: Be seen to be purchasing art and enjoying it for its aesthetic value only! Never discuss the worth of any art in front of any 'Art boys' and definitely never critique an artist’s work. If it's a group show, feel free to slag off the other artists in the show and stroke the 'Art boy's' egos with your silky smooth words. Lastly 'Art boys' have a tendency to dress like total scruff bags, but you should tell them how dapper and 'Arty' they look. If these two top tips don't bag you an 'Art boy' then I'm a Monkey's uncle.”

Adrienne Cooper (photographer): “It's not really my area of expertise. I'm struggling to get past stereotypes of arty boys. However, based on those stereotypes, I'd say it's about building their confidence (if they make art) and being encouraging...and dressing like a bit of a slut. But in an arty way. For some reason I'm getting visions of a 1990s Catherine Keener.”


  1. My artist ex dumped me for another girl, so if she's anything to go by, you need to go for the following look/vibe: plain, ugly, fat and boring, middle class pretending to be poor. Talk bullshit about your work whilst sitting in an uncomfortable pose to pretend you're interesting. Pretend to be creative, but in fact your work is something i could have put together in my break time at Primary school, and most of all, be a back stabbing bitch! Me, bitter? Noooo!

  2. I think it's tricky cos they're all different. But looking individual & quirky & relaxed with it is definitely a plus. They can be a bit shy, so being amorous when drunk on opening wine can be a plus. BEING an artist helps...birds of a feather & everything. So here's my suggestion: Why not try & have an exhibition of your photos yourself (with your own well-written captions) & have your own opening. Invite all the art boys you fancy, get them all a bit drunk & pinch one of their bums! Then you're in charge of your own party & no art boy can resist the main attraction (you, the main artist) in the room. Flyer art schools & art shops with invites/ads for your opening night, then make it a seductive party. Choose a venue etc. I may help. Get everyone to invite their art friends.

    Other less time-consuming alternative: book yourself on a course at The Prince's Drawing School (Shoreditch). Lots of different courses & a mixture of art schools peeps as well as the general public - not just a sad adult education environment! You'll love it. Also, if you whisk the ones you fancy off to Shoreditch House, who's going to resist you! Oh, but you do have to be serious about learning & making some good art!

    OK, in other thoughts - I think a lot of them like you to dress provocatively but behave very subtly...with the odd shock of a pinched bot when they are drunk...