The Philosophy of Andy Warhol
Good business is art.
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I finished The Philosophy of Andy Warhol this week and I feel so validated. Warhol wasn't into fancy high art. He was into art that made money. I feel the same way about writing.
When I was in college, I never submitted work to the fancy literary magazines. I wrote for the local newspaper which paid $50/article — better than the volunteer school paper. If I'm going to spend my time on a project, I want to get paid for it.
I highly recommend Warhol's book. It's weird, very unstructured, and definitely an acquired taste. I almost put it down after the first chapter. But, it reminds me a lot of one of my favorites On The Road by Jack Kerouac.
Here's a few of my favorite quotes from The Philosophy of Andy Warhol.
"Making money is art. Working is art. Good business is the best art."
Advertising is poetry. Negotiating deals is screenwriting. Pitching startups is storytelling. Doing good business is an artform to master.
Learning how to do business is equivalent to learning a craft like woodworking or painting. All the get-rich-quick YouTube videos in the world won't teach you the best way to close a deal in your niche. Only practice and experience will.
Like woodworking, becoming an apprentice is the best way to learn how to run a business. I've apprenticed for writing legends like Greg Isenberg and Cami Russo, but my first time apprenticing was helping my Dad out with his law firm.
I grew up helping him staple papers, hearing him on phone calls with clients, and watching him edit individual client-facing emails for 10-20 minutes. I learned young that when you're in the business of words, your communication skills are everything. When I have kids, I hope to teach them similar lessons.
“Why do people think artists are special? It’s just another job."
As a kid, I thought great artists were so special: godlike beings with supernatural gifts.
I didn't realize they just worked on their art with the drive of Goldman Sachs bankers.
I didn't realize they started out shitty and failed miserably for years. I thought they were born with their skill already developed. No, they hustle, learn, and persevere.
I've been listening to this song since 2016 working on winning the great online game. I failed for 10+ years in total. Success online takes time, grit, and perseverance.
"As soon as I became a loner, that's when I got what you might call a 'following'"
This is true for me as well. When I started spending more time alone and prioritizing my writing and reading, people started respecting my work more.
I grew a following on Twitter for tweeting thoughts I had while alone. All of my best work on Cyber Patterns comes from me sitting solo writing at the kitchen table.
Every great artist I know spends most of time their alone — behind a laptop, piano, or canvas. You just can't create great work while out drinking with the boys.
“It’s not discipline. It’s knowing what you really want.”
“No, I’m not disciplined, really,” Warhol wrote. “It just looks that way because I do what people tell me to do and I don’t complain about it while it’s happening."
I struggled with discipline for years.
Once I went all-in on writing, I become obsessed. I frequently turn down social events because I have writing to do. I don't mind. I often prefer writing to shmoozing anyways.
People say I'm a machine because I produce so much work. I know what I want and I don't complain about the sacrifices. As Elon says, "Fuck that, we'll get it done."