How To Make Money From Art: Make Art That Simply Takes Money

How To Make Money From Art: Make Art That Simply Takes Money

Conceptual artist Caleb Larsen shares thoughts on how to make money from normally valueless things.

Kyle Studstill
  • 10 december 2010

At the beginning of the year we picked up on Caleb Larson’s thesis project for his 2009 MFA from the Rhode Island School Of Design, a collection of works around the manufacture of value titled The Value Of Nothing. The most stand-out item from this project was titled “A Tool To Deceive And Slaughter,” featured in our article Transient Artwork Continually Sells Itself On eBay – a nondescript box that makes money for the buyer, simply by automatically beginning a new auction for itself after purchase.

We’re now seeing Caleb’s work emerge again in blogs covering innovation in art like The Post Family, displaying his full thoughts in a video that hints at how value is created from seemingly superfluous or unnecessary experiences. In the case of A Tool To Deceive And Slaughter, what would normally be a black acrylic box and some Ethernet cable is sold continuously on eBay every week, valuable because of a combination of the code written to automate it and the story Caleb places behind it – it can be said that the value of owning “a sculpture that exists in eternal transactional flux” and being able to share that experience with others is in fact equivalent to the multiple thousands of dollars people pay for it each week.

$10,000 Sculpture (In Progress)

To illustrate further, Caleb explains another piece of his – $10000 Sculpture (in progress) – below:

All my projects are playful experiments in how to make money from art. …For one exhibition I just took a dollar bill acceptor and installed that into a wall. So it just simply takes people’s money.

[There are] no clues to inform the viewer as to the nature of the piece. Nor does it suggest what might happen if they were to insert a dollar bill. The title is the only thing that provides any insight into conceptual workings.

[As an artist] you can sell your work – or, you can just have your work take people’s money.

See the video of Caleb’s explanation below:

A Tool To Deceive And Slaughter

$10,000 Sculpture (in progress)

Caleb Larsen


Fitness Advocate: Paving The Future of Workouts With Audio

Fitness & Sport
Innovation Yesterday

After The Initial Success Of AR Gaming, What Does The Future Hold?

With Pokemon GO earning up to $10m a day, R&D departments are busy searching for the next phase

Arts & Culture Yesterday

The Next Great Art Movement Will Come At The Swipe Of A Finger

An improved app, optimized digital display and monthly art discovery service round out Electric Objects' renewed commitment to democratizing the art world


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Retail Yesterday

A TV Streaming Service Is Designed Just For Kids

Toca TV is a new platform offering thousands of original and curated children's videos for a monthly subscription fee

Travel Yesterday

Bus Stop Transformed Into A Fitness Station For Commuters

Sports drink company Lucozade live-streamed an athletic trainer working out at a stop in Manchester to encourage travelers to get moving

Related Expert

Angelo Semeraro

Interactive Developer

Technology Yesterday

Shiseido And Microsoft Have Created A Makeup Filter For Women Who Telecommute

The Japanese cosmetic company built an augmented reality app that works alongside Skype for Business

Mobile Yesterday

Samsung Is Using AR To Help Beachgoers Stay Safe

Pocket Patrol utilizes a phone's camera to promote beach safety and educate people about hidden hazards

Design & Architecture Yesterday

500 Plastic Chairs Used To Create A Recyclable Pavilion

Design agency CODA built a grandoise art piece from simple lawn furniture


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Marketing Experts: Millennials And The Power Of Cool

'Good Is The New Cool' Authors Afdhel Aziz and Bobby Jones share their 7 principles for branding with a social impact

PSFK Labs Yesterday

The Keys For Exceptional Performance On And Off The Field

PSFK Labs' new report highlights five important insights for businesses to perform better than the competition

Retail Yesterday

Exchange Your Old Razors For New Ones At This Bartershop

The subscription-based shaving company lets customers trade their unwanted razors for Harry's brand steel at a temporary New York pop-up

Food Yesterday

A Brewer Has Created The Most Expensive Chips To Snack On

St. Eriks Brewery created crisps made from rare mushrooms to go with its artisan beer, donating all proceeds to charity

Travel Yesterday

Melbourne Hotel Lets Guests Stay In Their Own Chrome Airstream Trailers

Notel is a luxury rooftop with six guest rooms made from vintage 1970s mobile homes

Infants Yesterday

Battery Powered Cradle Will Rock Itself

NoomiNoomi is a clever device that makes it easier to put babies to sleep

Sustainability Yesterday

Swedish Citizens Get A Tax Break For Repairing Old Goods

A sustainability initiative encourages people to fix, rather than replace, broken objects

Fitness & Sport Yesterday

How Precision Data Can Make Anyone A Better Performer

The Sports Debrief from PSFK Labs looks at how analytic tools are being developed to optimize human performance across all industries

Home Yesterday

You Can Now Buy Furniture From A Daytime TV Show

Home furnishing online retailer Wayfair is partnering with Lifetime to create a shoppable life improvement television program

Social Media Yesterday

Instagram Tool Prevents People From Harming Themselves

A new anonymous reporting option on the social media platform hopes to provide better emotional support for users

No search results found.