BgArt News Blog
Friday, May 19, 2006
  Artist Anthony White Interview
australian artistThe Australian artist Anthony White was recently working as a stockbroker for Credit Suisse First Boston. Early this year he quit his day job as a stockbroker to take up painting full time. He hasn't completely left the money industry behind though, as he is now painting it.

I asked him a few questions about his money series that he is currently working on..

# What got you started on the money series?

My girlfriend got sick of me thinking about money all the time. I guess this happens when you work as a stockbroker. My girlfriend thought I needed to get a hobby to try and get a more rounded personality. I went back to art and The Money Series was the first thing that came out.

# How did a stockbroker become an artist? (Paul Gauguin was also a stockbroker before being an artist)

I started painting and exhibiting my work about 15 years ago before I became a stockbroker. Being dedicated to my art generally kept me quite poor. I worked part time to support my art habit. During this time I was also trading shares which I was quite good at. Unfortunately I never had big funds behind me so I was only making a lot of small wins. When I started working for Credit Suisse First Boston I was well and truly over being the poor artist. During the last 6 years that I worked as a stockbroker I was able to acquire some property and more shares. I left stockbroking in February to go back to art. I guess I am a glutton for punishment.

For inspiration I tend to think of Jeff Koons who was a commodities trader which is similar but different to stockbroking.

# How have you been marketing/selling your work?

Living in a small town of 11 000 people I try and take advantage of all local opportunities because I don’t get many. I don’t think I will sell too many more works locally because everyone who wants one of The Money Series has already bought one. A lot of locals hate my work but I find that they do the best job when it comes to advertising.

I try and use the internet to overcome the lack of local exhibiting opportunities. When I sell a painting I always write my web address on the back. This is not really artistic but it is good marketing. At a couple of group art exhibits I have entered a painting that all it had on it was my web address.

eBay has been very good. I would say don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. This could be the future of art sales.

I do send out press releases but they never seem to be well written. I think I need to have sex with someone famous for anyone to take notice.

I keep good records of people who have bought my work and tend to get in touch every six months. I also aim for 100% customer service and I think this results in repeat sales.

I spend a lot of time writing to curators of corporate art collections and private galleries telling them to buy my work.

I find that I focus a lot more on marketing than the production side. When I am not focused on marketing then I don’t tend to get the sales.

# You sell the works for whatever the amount is painted on them. Do you plan to stop at any number? What about more currencies like the Yen and Euro?

I don’t really have any incentive to stop at any particular number. If people stop buying my work then I will stop painting them. I think the series will just get better with age. I do see it as a large piece of conceptual art that gets better as the numbers go up and more people from around the world participate in it. I see my web site as an integral part of the work as well. I am aiming to launch the Euro in London next year. I have not really worked out how to make money from the Yen yet.

See more of Anthony's art at his website - Anthony White
>> Artist Interviews
BgArt News Blog Comments:
Makes me think of Andy Warhol's money printing. He painted what he loved; money and fame.
Sounds like a funny guy, although I have this romantic idea about always painting, no matter if you sell or not (to the extent that you can afford it). I guess my view on art is a little bit romantic, still not fully business thinking as I see it as therapeutic, spiritual if you will, very very personal. Now of course most artists do commissions they have no feelings for at all, and that's where the business side of it all comes in for me. Everyone has to make a living, but I wish the romantic side of it could be there as a side dish too. Or the other way around, if I can hope.
This is the second time in the past couple of days I have read about the strategy of sleeping with someone with "pull" in order to further an art career. I wonder how important this actually is in the big picture.

Interesting to see the internet based marketing approach. I hope you will give us an update on how this pans out.
In fact then we could use his paintings as currency if it always sells for the price what is written on it ;-)

I like Anthony's strategy and "customercare", but in fact it is the strategy of art as a product, what I do not like that much. Yesterday I read about the silly idea of Hirst to make literally the most "expensive" piece of art.

Interesting post of Edward Winkleman today too. Best regards
That would be interesting going to the supermarket if everyone paid with paintings.
We would have to come up with some painted credit cards.. or bank cards.
Maybe that could be a series for somebody? The credit card paintings!

And yeah, I'm somewhere inbetween a romantic and seeing art as a product.

It's all fine when you're the romantic painter painting only for the love of it, but when your studio (if you can afford a studio!) quickly fills with unsold paintings and you can't afford to buy proper art supplies, you have to start thinking about how to sell works.
The Credit-Card-Paintings:

Last October on the 2nd Art Caucasus in Tbilisi I saw a nice piece of Misha Shengelia, who spent a couple of month in a residence programme in New York. He was overriden by the use of Credit Cards in the US, "as you are no human, if you do not own a couple" as he told me. He did not have one in the first weeks and had a very hard life in New York.

He showed 3 or 4 credit cards, glued on the wall and added some pencil strokes to them, to make a train from them, the first was the locomotive with drawed steam, and the others the waggons. It was a simple piece, but with quite something to think.

Best regards, Hans
This art reminds me of a story I read just today about the 1000 paintings. A fun art concept, I think.

Thanks for sharing this interview!
Hi Hans -
I too was at Art Caucasus and met Misha Shengalia - I purchased one of his works, in the series of de Medici paintings - I love it.
We then went dancing at the Police Mans Cafe, opposite the Trade Center. What a fine meeting.
No Skill, No Art. Anthony White simply sucks.
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