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.

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

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